While most men prefer a cigar, a vicio of a different stripe has entered social smoking circles in the last decade. ‘LLEROs, meet the hookah.
What Is It
While you may have seen it imitated in videos and there’s even a merengue song about it, “Prende la Juca,” most folks may not know what exactly hookah is. In essence, it’s a group activity that allows multiple people to smoke vaporized flavored tobacco through a pipe. The tobacco is packed in a bowl and heated by hot coals. The resulting smoke is inhaled through a mouthpiece. The “hookah” is the actual device which includes the pipes, and bowl which steams the “shisha” or tobacco.
The Middle Eastern practice popped up wherever their communities lived in large populations, usually in the form of bars and restaurants. It took off in popularity in the early 00’s, some believe, thanks to returning vets who got used to smoking it in Iraq. Today you can find lounges dotted throughout Dominican neighborhoods and restaurants that let people have a space with the caveat that they’ll rent a hookah and smoke. It’s a lot like the concept of going to a dance club and getting bottle service to hook up you and your friends with drinks throughout the night. The “puff puff give” practice, since you are in a circle sharing it with friends, makes it an easy way to socialize with others. It also gives a quick fix for those who smoke cigarettes but don’t look forward to being banned to the outdoors in the hot or cold weather.
Curious to try it? Here are a few things you should know…
On average you’ll pay up to $25 — that includes renting a device as well as a pack of tobacco.
Pick your favorite fruit and there’s likely a tobacco to go with it: apple, cherry, cinnamon or mint, the options are endless.
Sorry fellas, but the tobacco smoked is no better or worse than what you find in cigarettes. A recent study even found that it has its own set of unique health problems. Let’s not forget using charcoal which releases carbon monoxide you directly inhale isn’t super fun for your lungs. Finally, sharing and passing the mouthpiece means you’re also sharing communicable diseases like bronchitis or herpes. There is a way to avoid the latter though, if your going to indulge you can often request a separate and disposable mouthpiece.
Get it to Go
The trend has become so popular that people can buy electronic hookah pens, much like e-cigarettes, that they can carry around wherever they go (minus the social circle of course). No muss, no fuss!