Mark Allen and Eddy Moretti of VICE have been trying to pursue a good angle on the underground parties in Tehran. I had met Eddy through Fareed Zakaria a few times, and I recently got connected to Mark after consulting the news pundit, Rula Jebreal, on a few things she needed help with when she would discuss ISIS or Israel/Palestine on different segments. Mark and I discussed a few stories we hope to pursue together for the HBO show, and one of them was about underground parties in Tehran. I thought the idea would captivate Americans, so I dove head first into the possible avenues which could get me a better picture of what I could produce. For the last few weeks, I have been talking to Farnaz Abdoli who is the amazing designer behind POOSH fashion in Iran. In our correspondence, she told me that getting in to parties in Tehran would probably not be as hard as we think, and that she even knew of a German news organization that had done something similar. With other Iranians, mostly living in London and Dubai, though, the perspective was not the same. They were sure that I was barking up the wrong tree and that I would land someone in prison especially if we tried to secretly film and produce a VICE HBO show that took place at a house party in Tehran. I think that it is complex and that the elites can get away with it and often do. Very often. However, the idea to showcase it internationally, like the young Iranians behind the Happy video did, would be a real crime in the eyes of the Iranian government.
The idea is definitely not dead, and VICE magazine might want to pursue my contacts and pictures, but the only problem is that they don’t want blurred faces. I told them that I really couldn’t promise that I would find someone willing to risk that. I am not sure that this story is anything more than mundane at its very core because some people party everywhere no matter what the law is, but I think that is the beauty of it. Exposing the West to the fact that there is a regular-ness to the Middle East is sort of an obnoxious and “rolls-eyes” commitment to many that know better, but the story is in the regular-ness. So while the pictures below and the “Partying Persian” concept is a little weak because the people of Tehran are obviously not limited to its country’s governing body, it is important to connect one another to the mundane. The pictures below come from both public and private Instagram feeds, so it is interesting that the Iranian government is seemingly not ultra concerned about the partying happening in fact, but that they are more concerned with the facade of an Islamic Republic to the outside world. Every country and culture has partiers amongst its ranks, and they are probably equally annoying and fun. I will leave you with this quote by Marjane Satrapi, the Iranian Graphic Novelist behind Persepolis:
The world is not divided between East and West. You are American, I am Iranian, we don’t know each other, but we talk and we understand each other perfectly. The difference between you and your government is much bigger than the difference between you and me. And the difference between me and my government is much bigger than the difference between me and you. And our governments are very much the same.
Faceless pictures (for now)