Zula’s Grand Opening, Cape Town, 09.07.11.


Zula Sound Bar has been a hosting artists in the Cape Town gig scene for the past 5 years. Initially it was a welcome change in the City Bowl as it provided a new live music venue for bands and electronic artists alike, however, over the years it seemed to get a little worn down and lost some of it’s charm. Over looking Cafe Baghdad’s courtyard and toilet facilities (not a bathroom I’d recommend), the passageways slant towards the sunken courtyard, making the Zula bathroom experience feel like a jungle rope-ladder! Zula’s balcony was always a good place to ‘hang’ and grab and bite and was supported by the inclusion of a new bar in the venue.

A venue foreigners loved thanks to our sexy artists, Zula was never on an equal footing with other live music venues in Cape Town so news of a new location was a welcome change. Unfortunately, their grand opening was delayed for a few weeks due to construction issues, but come July 9th 2011, 3 blocks down from the road, Zula hosted its Grand Opening. I managed to make a turn to Zula’s new venue, which was already causing quite a stir on Facebook and Twitter, on Saturday evening.

Although the condition of the new club leaves much to be desired (construction issues) the actual lay out of the new Zula location is fantastic! It immediately reminded me of clubs I had attended overseas and had many people saying the same thing to me of their experiences. Upon entering there is a V.I.P bar on the left with glass walls, very clever if you’re using celebrities as a pulling card for clientele, on the right is a general bar for everyone. One proceeds to the reception counter on the left where one is greeted by friendly staff who directed the traffic straight into the main room. This space is about 3 times the size of the old Zula dance floor, a drastic improvement of space with a bar positioned on the right and the bathrooms on the left next to the front of the stage.

Upon exiting the downstairs band arena and heading upstairs one can either turn left into a bar and small lounge area or take a right into the electronic dance arena. This room must be gorgeous during the day as there are medievil shaped windows above the dancefloor letting in natural night. The DJs / producers are also well elevated which means it will be more difficult for clientele to dance on the stage – YAY! Now we’ll be able to see who is performing at all times! With red and green lazers penetrating the dancefloor, this arena has massive potential to be a great party venue.

On Saturday the band arena was graced by Wolftown (a female lead 3 piece rock outfit), Holiday Murray (a folk rock group) and the headliner of the evening, aKing. Unfortunately, the bands were running an hour late, so aKing only started at 1:30am which proved too late for many patrons who were not prepared to hang around. Holiday Murray was a mellow 4 piece who performed beautifully but who were too mellow for 00:30am. Wolftown were better suited for the later slot but who played at 23:30pm.

In the dance arena, SFR’s (22:00pm), one of South Africa’s leading contemporary dubstep / drum n bass producers, gave the (initially) small audience hope of a good party. Later, Sedge Warbler dominated the floor with the audience singing along and exhibiting their new trademark ‘W’ hand symbol. Later Haezer, another one of South African’s greatest contemporary electro producers pounded his beats into the hearts of the audience.

The unexpected act of the evening was DJ Sideshow, who played in the small upstairs bar and lounge area. The audience was having such a great sing along and jump along to her rock beats, the wooden floor boards moved so vigorously that the CD-J’s were double bounced off the desk smashing to the floor! Even a drunk sleeping patron on the couch next to the DJ table was bounced up and down as he slumbered. This is how you rock a party! This might have been the smallest music space but DJ Sideshow did not fail to rock the lounge until Boogieman (MC Equalizer) took over.

With reasonable bar prices and entrance fees, Zula’s new location is a far cry from their old premises. Both the band space and electronic space are equal in size and are as wide as they are deep which means viewing a band / DJ from the back is pleasant and does not leave one feeling disconnected from the party. Although the venue is still under construction, hopefully it will be completed beautifully and allowed the chance to be one of Cape Town’s best venues.


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