Ladies night: A look into the growing phenomenon of halal parties
Step into any club or bar and you’ll be hard-pressed to find hijab-clad, burqa-wearing women there.
Believe me – I’ve tried. Just minutes inside a central London bar during a work Christmas party I realised that my hijab and I were not welcome, and it’s safe to say that I didn’t return.
The tenants of Islam require women to be modestly dressed in front of men who aren’t their immediate family members and so, the only places we can take our hijabs off and relax are our homes.
"It’s a night off from real life, where women can leave their husbands and children at home and have a good time together. They’re able to take off their hijabs if they want to, and party in a safe space"
But one woman was determined to change that.
Merium Bhuiyan, an English and Maths teacher from Islington, north London decided to host halal, women-only parties to give Muslim women the opportunity to let their hair down.
“The idea for Club CakeFace came from my Moroccan friends who often host the most fun ladies-only parties,” explains Merium.
“I found myself wanting to go to similar parties but became frustrated at the lack of options around me.”
Determined to offer something accessible to women like her, Merium decided to look deeper into an untapped market with a real need. “I conducted some research and found there was a gap in the market,” she explains.
“Muslim women were seeking ladies-only events, but they were either difficult to find online, unaffordable, or just too far. I knew then that I could do something about this.”
From there Merium launched Club CakeFace – an extension of her makeup existing brand, CakeFace Makeup.
“The rules for Club CakeFace are simple: No Boys, No Booze, No Babies,” says Merium.
“It’s a night off from real life, where women can leave their husbands and children at home and have a good time together. They’re able to take off their hijabs if they want to, and party in a safe space.
“There’s no photography, so partygoers can relax knowing they won’t be pictured online. Women have the chance to eat, drink and dance together and make new friends. It’s a space where they won’t be judged or have to explain themselves to anyone.”
The parties were an instant hit with demand continuing to grow since its inception in 2017.
“I’ve found my family, friends and community to be incredibly receptive and supportive,” say Merium. “They often reach out and request more regular events. It feels great to receive such glowing feedback after the parties and I am delighted to be able to provide this kind of service for women like me.”
Despite her growing success Merium still received some pushback, particularly online.
“When the events started to go viral, I received a lot of hate online,” says Merium. “But that’s because people often react to things they don’t really get. To those people, I’d say come and join us and see how fun Club CakeFace is!”
As Merium’s brand continues to grow, she plans to take her parties global: “First stop would have to be Morocco, and maybe after that Turkey as I know the women there would really enjoy the events.
“I’ve also got my eye on America for upcoming parties as there are areas with a large Muslim population. I’m really excited about expanding and can’t wait to see where it goes.”
Sami Rahman is a freelance lifestyle writer based in London.
Follow her on Twitter: @bysamirahman