Hookah 101: What to Expect

Hookah party

When, as a young suburban high schooler, I was invited to a party significantly above my coolness pay grade I found myself in a world of new experiences. Many of these experiences are better left un-discussed, but one of the more impactful ones for me was the first time I smoked hookah. I coughed and wheezed, and generally made a fool out of myself, but that doesn’t have to be the case for everyone. With a dissertation’s worth of research in the field of “looking like an idiot in public” I have collected what information is necessary to make your first experience better than mine.

Hookah is for fun

There is no reason to smoke hookah unless it is going to be for your benefit. Social circles oftentimes make decisions for the entire group and soft spoken members end up in unpleasant situations. There is no better way to turn yourself off to an experience than doing it on someone else’s terms in a circumstance with which you are uncomfortable. Don’t get caught in this trap; realize that hookah is dissimilar from alcohol or weed because you don’t have to participate in the activity to be a part of the group. More often than not a circle of friends smoking hookah forgets the order of whose turn it is within the first go-around.

Hookah is a community activity

While perfectly acceptable to smoke alone, hookah was meant to be had with good conversation, and, on occasion, good alcohol (more hookah pairing suggestions).

Hookah can be active or passive

This one is really a matter of setting. I’ve had friends dress themselves like they were starring in a Jason Derulo music video simply because they were going out to a hookah bar. For those who were looking for a night out hookah was their activity. At the same time it’s not uncommon for me to find friends casually smoking their own hookahs in their apartments or houses. In this way hookah transcends the difference between an activity that demands your focus and one that you can engage in passively. If you are new to hookah then I would definitely recommend hookah bars and the like. Going out with a good attitude is the difference between “Yeah, we just kinda hung out and smoked his hookah” and “We all got together and went out to a hookah bar. We weren’t sure what to get so the cute waitress- was she Greek or Pakistani?- anyway, she recommended this tobacco stuff that was some combination between a nectarine and a strawberry and ohmygawd it was amazing. ”

Hookah is best in moderation

Y’know the guy that went to your school who was always telling you how many beers he could shotgun? You remember that time he drank enough to piss his pants or blackout and he proceeded to do both? Don’t be that guy when it comes to hookah. This is a simple pleasure best appreciated for its subtlety. This is a type of tobacco that was made to be smoked and rolled around in a person’s mouth before being pleasantly exhaled. Like a cigar or a fine wine hookah is to be tasted, contemplated, and let go so don’t breath it into your lungs if you can avoid it. Taking a hard hit of hookah will make you wish you never picked it up in the first place so take your time and try to enjoy yourself.

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