In all tourist resorts of Turkey, from the months of April to October, you will note one similarity. Most of the restaurants will hold a Turkish night. I am not talking about the traditional Turkish lokantas but the restaurants that are aimed specifically for foreigners. The restaurants that serve English breakfast and Sunday dinners like they are going out of fashion.
These Turkish nights can vary however a typical format will be folklore dancing from villages around Turkey, a belly dancer, a singer and break dancers or a Michael Jackson impersonator. So I know what you think. What does Michael Jackson or break dancers have to do with Turkey? Nothing , but I got reliably informed that they were added to keep kids entertained who might otherwise be getting bored.
The food for the night will also vary. Some restaurants will lay on a buffet or set menu, others let you choose from the menu and this is designed to please the people who have no intention of trying Turkish cuisine. Some restaurants will give unlimited local drinks as part of your ticket price. Music in the background tends to be the latest European chart music and not Turkish music as you might expect. The reason for this apparently is that the foreigners would not like it. Apparently it has been tried before.
So are these Turkish nights an accurate portrayal of Turkish life? Depends on what way you look at it. A newcomer to Turkey, will be bowed over and enjoy the night. They will enjoy the folklore dancing and shoot dirty looks at their husbands, who keep looking at the belly dancers prize assets. They will also marvel at the kid off the street who has managed to carry off a Michael Jackson impersonator with no professional dance training what so ever.
The problem starts when you have been to that many Turkish nights, you get fed up of them. When I first come to Turkey, I loved watching the village dancing, but now I want to know more. I want to know which village the dance is from and what it resembles. I also want to see people such as whirling dervishes which apparently only show in Istanbul and Cappadocia.
Some people who have seen that many Turkish nights will actually tell you that they think it is tacky. I do not think it is tacky as it served as an useful introduction to Turkey. I have just moved on, and want to see more then your average Turkish night geared up for tourists.
I have been to Turkish nights in Kusadasi, Istanbul, Altinkum and Marmaris. Whenever I go to a new destination, I will probably go to them again, just in case I see something new. The best Turkish nights I have seen so far were at the Galata tower in Istanbul and at the Caravansary in Kusadasi. I will be setting off on my travels in ten days time and hope I will see a Turkish night that will once again wow me.