Oliver WainwrightLast modified on Wed 9 Jan 2019 09.29 GMT
Tehran’s traffic jams have spawned a curious social phenomenon. The affluent car-driving youth of the northern districts have turned gridlock into a way of meeting members of the opposite sex.
Known as “dor-dor” (“turn-turn” in Farsi), separate groups of young men and womendrive around, pulling up alongside each other in congested traffic so they can flirt and pass phone numbers through the window. The cars are either all-girl or all-boy to avoid censorship by the Islamic morality police. If the police do show up they can make a (slow) getaway.
This furtive car-cruising is just one of the signs of youthful rebellion against draconian moral codes, and an indication that the Iranian capital might be becoming gradually more relaxed. In Ab-o-Atash park, a teenage girl in skinny jeans and rollerblades allows her headscarf to drop briefly as she coasts past a group of gawping boys. Nearby, a tape of religious music is drowned out by the blaring hip-hop coming from the skatepark. Gaggles of families pose for selfies, while black-cloaked women shuffle past on their way to the mosque.
If we’d been seen out with a boy like this, we would have been forced to marry them
“We never had spaces like this when we were growing up here,” says a middle-aged woman visiting from Canada with her sister, where they have both lived for the past 20 years after moving from Iran. “Even a few years ago, a scene like this would have been unthinkable.”