In the countries where the hookah developed the hookah is considered almost sacred, because of this an intricate system of etiquette developed around the hookah. When the hookah is shared the hose should either be placed on the table to signify that it is available or it should be passed to right. When it is passed, it should be folded so that the mouthpiece is not facing the next person. Ashing cigarettes into the hookah ash tray should be avoided. This system of etiquette is hundreds of years old and developed largely in the Middle East. And it is just fine for traditional hookah bars but as with so many other aspects of culture, the young American and European hipsters and Bohemians who have adopted it, have developed their own, slightly less formal etiquette.
The proliferation of both online and brick and mortar hookah shops has helped move hookahs out of hookah lounges and into the home where they are often the centerpiece of parties and other social events. Unlike the lounges, parties are often less strict about etiquette. That doesn’t mean there are no rules, the rules are just different. The primary rule is usually stated as, “Dude, smoke or pass.” It’s bad form to simply hold onto a hose and not use it, give other people a chance. Amongst the Gen X and Gen Y hipsters and Bohos it is common to hear someone exclaim, “Dude, plug your hole”. If this wasn’t in reference to the practice of placing one’s thumb over the opening of the hose to maintain proper air flow, it would be darn rude. It is also considered bad form to twirl one’s hose like a baton until it falls out of the grommet and then whimper like a puppy that has been stepped on when you aren’t getting any smoke. Also tugging on the hose until the hookah tips over is also generally frowned upon. It gets ash and hot coal all over the place and it’s near impossible to get that smell of hookah water out of the carpet. Another rule at parties is never come empty handed. Come on, you’re visiting someone’s house to essentially smoke for free, bring something, even if it’s not hookah related, drinks and snacks are always appreciated. If you want the host of the party to really think you’re cool, bring over a can or two of shisha or few rolls of coal.
Every activity has its rules. This even applies to social activities such as sharing a hookah bowl…or five with your friends. If your host insists on some sort of rules of etiquette, be cool and follow them. In the end, the rules are there to make the party or lounge safe and pleasant for everyone. Until next time…
…May all your shisha taste like the label promises and may all your smoke be puffy and white.