Before it became the scene of a New Year’s Eve bloodbath, the Reina nightclub in Istanbul was a glittering waterside venue frequented by Turkey’s wealthy secular millennials and international celebrities.
Nestled on the western shore of the Bosphorus strait — the waterway separating Europe from Asia — the glamorous club was regarded as among the top places to be seen in Istanbul and one of the city’s most sought-after spots to ring in 2017.
Ortakoy, where Reina is located, is a vibrant seaside neighborhood that caters to a wide range of people, from the uber-rich who party at clubs like Reina to students who buy stuffed baked potatoes from vendors along the Bosphorus.
Reina itself was one of the first clubs to open along the famous strait more than a decade ago. Exclusive and spectacularly expensive by Turkish standards, it offers spectacular views of the Bosphorus and the Bogaziçi suspension bridge. Those wishing to avoid queues at the door can arrive by boat.
Clubgoers lucky enough to get past the burly bouncers may rub shoulders with a few famous faces. Such celebs as Kylie Minogue, Bon Jovi and members of U2 have all partied the night away there.
The nightspot oozes glamor, with its restaurant overlooking the open-air dance floor and the water below. While it may have lost some of its sparkle over the years, it is still a go-to spot for out-of-towners who want to experience the grand views, thumping beats and decadent food.
Due to an increasing number of violent incidents in Turkey in the last months of 2016, security around the city and at the club had been beefed up ahead of New Year’s Eve.
In a statement posted on the club’s official Facebook page, owner Mehmet Kocarslan expressed his condolences to his patrons and staff.
“This terrible incident is a terror attack against our citizens, peace, brotherhood, serenity, economy, tourism: in short; against our nation,” he wrote.
Kocarslan added that security has been high in the neighborhood during the last two weeks, and police were watching the area 24 hours a day with help from the coast guard.
“Despite those high security measures this heinous incident happened. We don’t know what to say. We are speechless,” he added. “We believe that this terror incident won’t harm our unity.”