This lost review couldn’t run (in the publication to which it was submitted) because Oasis’ license is under review. More a choice of not conflicting with official acts than an ethical prohibition of journalism, no such compunction prohibits me from expressing an opinion about a lounge that adds diversity to the Omaha hospitality scene.
Not one to let my opinions be swayed by even the best of basic cable “docu-reality” programs, I went to Oasis on a recent Saturday night… Unlike 95% of Omaha bars, restaurants, doctors’ offices, gyms and grocery store delicatessens, Oasis does not have multiple television sets blasting sportsball events. Even some of your better Punk Clubs have given in to that most mundane of American pastimes seemingly unaware that not everyone enjoys watching grown men play with their balls…
Oasis: A Place to Chill
Where: 1507 Farnam Street
When: Sunday to Wednesday 7PM–12AM
Thursday to Saturday 7PM–2AM
Info: (402) 502-9893
It has had its ups and downs, but I’ve been intrigued by Oasis Hookah Lounge since my first time there in 2012. Just to clarify any brand confusion, Oasis became Taza after Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue” turned it into more of a nightclub with growing pains in 2013. But Taza is Oasis again for now and with their license up for review and the holidays upon us, what better time for a redemption?
Not one to let my opinions be swayed by even the best of basic cable “docu-reality” programs, I went to Oasis on a recent Saturday night to give it a fair shake with Omaha photographer and muralist Alisha Davis. Her “Building Our Legacy in Love & Light” project is all about the affect of media images on the popular perceptions of our communities, businesses, neighbors and ourselves. So we were decidedly in the right place for that.
The artfully decorated main entryway of Oasis is bound to cause a bit of confusion. It has a large, round bar that would be packed with drinkers anywhere else. Here it’s stocked like a smoke shop. Optimally, one would walk in and order a hookah before anything else. You can choose a medium or large hookah ($18/$21) with regular flavors like mango, mint or vanilla at no extra charge. Exotic and house flavors are like cocktails for $3 with names such as Bugly Fitch, Sweet Shock, Nasty Navarro or Kendall’s Kingdom. Smoking is not mandatory though.
From this point the lounge is up one level (by stairs or ramp) giving Oasis an eagle’s nest vibe. The front section is all seating. People read, talk, work, draw, play and smoke here. A slight partition indicates the back where the DJ booth and bar are located. This is where it gets loud later on and the dancing happens more like a boisterous café than a nightclub.
We ordered a regular hookah of spicy sweet Pirate’s Cave with a little funnel for blowing smoke bubbles. Having enough shisha for four, we invited a couple stragglers to be our new friends for an hour. Mostly, we practiced blowing bubbles and talked photography while waiting for DJ A-Rahb to overcome a technical difficulty. By 10:30, a good crowd with a strong, positive vibe was bouncing in the back and it stayed that way until midnight with no sign of the intensifying drunkenness often associated with an evening out.
Though not the main focus, Oasis has a stocked liquor cabinet. The beer choices cover the basics well: Goose Island IPA, Modelo, Shock Top, Corona, Stella Cidre, Bud Light and Budweiser in cans and bottles. A round for four was under $20.
(Addendum: Unlike 95% of Omaha bars, restaurants, doctors’ offices, gyms and grocery store delicatessens, Oasis does not have multiple television sets blasting sportsball events. Even some of your better Punk Clubs have given in to that most mundane of American pastimes seemingly unaware that not everyone enjoys watching grown men play with their balls.)
I’ve spent a few good hours in hookah lounges from central Paris to central Omaha and each had more in common with a coffee shop than a bar. If Oasis can be the same chill venue it started as — with or without liquor — it contributes needed diversity to Omaha’s burgeoning Neapolitan barscape.