Cape Town’s coolest things this week (7-13 March 2016)

We’ve got our finger on the pulse to bring you the three of the hippest happenings…

1. A night at the museum…

Make like Ben Stiller and explore the wild and wacky specimens of Cape Town’s museums after dark. Add music and late-night snacks for a truly irresistible excursion for those with curious minds. Read more

2. Boogie at the break of dawn

Dance at dawn and shimmy as the sun rises at this incredibly cool early-morning body-jamming session that moves to a different secret location each month. Work up a sweat or just breathe in the morning air with a bunch of happy crazies. Read more – and even more

3. It’s carnival!

Hit the streets of central Cape Town to marvel at this mind-blowing parade of dancers, floats and music maestros as they sweep through the city in a colourful celebration of our diverse culture. Read more

Dance For All: transforming lives one perfect step at a time

Dance For All has changed the life course of hundreds of young people from Cape Town through the magic of movement. Former principal dancer Phillip Boyd, who founded the organisation with his wife, the late legendary South African prima ballerina Phyllis Spira, tells all.

I always had this idea of making dance as popular as sport in South Africa. That’s what inspired me to create an organisation and structure for children to have the same opportunity I had during my formative years. And I wanted to make this possible for all children – no matter where they came from.

My late wife, Prima Ballerina Assoluta Phyllis Spira, co-founded Dance For All (DFA) with me, and we started off at Sivuyile College in Gugulethu in 1991 with a small group of 34 students. When we later moved to Masikhanye Centre, also in Gugulethu, we were able to expand the stage area and install a wooden floor, ballet barres and mirrors to give our students their own dance studio. We wanted the children to use the right clothes and look at themselves in the mirror and see true dancers.

In 2007 we moved to our own building in Athlone, where we have three different rooms for classes and more than 20 teachers. Today we teach more than 1 500 students in a professional school environment, most of them for free.

Seeing these talented students develop and grow artistically made Phyllis and I realise it was necessary to create a professional arm for DFA. The DFA Youth Company showcases the dancers’ work and training and creates a pool of role models for other young dancers.

One of the most important aspects of our work – and ultimately what DFA is all about – is that some of our former students are now working in their communities, creating opportunities for others and sharing their knowledge.

The discipline an artistic life requires is also a strong way of taking children from the streets and keeping them away from drugs and violence. Dance is hope, and that’s what we provide.

How you can help
Sponsor dance training for underprivileged students, or help fund the Phyllis Spira Trust, which helps talented dancers follow a professional career. For more information, visit www.danceforall.co.za

Music for the masses at these top dance clubs

If you’re itching for a night of reckless abandon accompanied by a soundtrack of quality dance music, Cape Town’s city centre offers many options and they’re all within walking distance of each other.

At the upper end of Long Street (the city’s main nightlife drag) you’ll find Fiction DJ Bar, home to Cape Town’s best underground and non-commercial dance music. There is an age restriction of 21 for every event night other than Tuesdays, which features the club’s longest running student night, Untamed Youth. Thursday nights feature drum ‘n’ bass while weekend nights range between DJs playing house, techno and bass music. The venue comprises two floors, with two bars, one dancefloor and balconies overlooking Long Street.

Vice City is situated on a side street around the corner from Fiction. The basement-like dancefloor area creates the sense that you could be in a club in any city in the world. Thursday nights host psy-trance while Friday is for techno and Saturday for house.

Era on Loop Street is Cape Town’s premium clubbing experience, so expect to pay a higher cover charge than at the other dance clubs. You pay for the experience as well as the entertainment. Open on Friday and Saturday nights only, the venue features two dancefloors. You enter on the lower level and are greeted by a tunnel-shaped dancefloor with a ceiling adorned with L.E.D light strips that move to the pulsating rhythm of the techno played on this floor. The upstairs Groove Bar hosts an array of house music DJs and is also the smoking-friendly dancefloor. Each floor has a bar with efficient and friendly staff. Both floors have bathrooms — take note that  the upper level facilities are unisex. The age restriction is 21 for ladies and 23 for guys, proof of identity is essential and their dress code is strict.

Across the road from Era, COCO is a decadent nightclub run by experienced members of the local dance music scene. It caters to deep house, hip-hop and commercial music lovers. The venue offers VIP experiences and premium bottle service. The dress code is strict, there is a cover charge and entry into the club is discretionary — don’t even try coming here in flip-flops.

Secret Sunrise: Rise with the rhythm

All About Cape Town’s in-house journo Marie-Claire de Villiers joined the Secret Sunrise crew for their regular pump session at dawn. The Castle of Good Hope was this edition’s secret location for some wakey-wakey dancing.

Cape Town’s city centre is already wide awake by 6am. People scuttle past me on the Grand Parade on their way to catch their bus or train. I’m wide awake too, and on my way to the Castle of Good Hope. I’ve been to this Mother City monument before, but that was years ago and it was wasn’t to dance at dawn.

I shiver in the morning chill as I join a group of strangers walking towards the centuries-old building. We’re handed headphones and head over to join an increasingly odd bunch stretching on the Castle’s lawn. The theme is Zombies and Vampires. Some people have dressed up, others are in gym wear and a few look like serious clubbers. It’s a 6am witching hour.

So where am I? Secret Sunrise, the dance party that goes down every two weeks or so in a new secret location, and boogies its way into a new day. We’re on a large lawn space, blocked from the outside world but with Table Mountain peeking over towering walls. There are no rules at Secret Sunrise events and we’re all part of the organised chaos. We start with a warm-up, a slow stretch. There’s a nineties rave track playing in my headphones – and Michael Jackson’s legendary Thriller will make an appearance a later.

I look at these beautiful Capetonians around me. Some are a little awkward at first, some are flying free. All quickly lose their inhibitions and start focusing on the aim of the morning: having fun.

The voice of our instructor-cum-personal guru is clear in my headphones, and I watch him at the front, all calm and leader-like. Lie down. Partner up. Clap hands with one another. Go solo again. Hip thrust your sexy self. Jump up. Dance like no-one’s watching. Be a zombie. Catch someone’s eye. Show them how sexy you are – you rule that dance floor, babe.

Next to me, a black-clad vampire is doing cartwheels. I wonder what his story is… Turns out he’s a professional dancer. “This is what we all need,” he tells me. “Every day! We need to move and we need to connect with each other.”

It doesn’t matter how fast you run, how high you jump or how hard you dance. Doing only a little is fine, but inevitably the music and people sway you into giving yourself a rather kick-ass workout. The instructor gives a little spiritual push, though. “If you give someone a compliment, you make someone’s day. Take this positivity with you into your day today and to every person you meet,” he urges.  Following his instructions, I smile at the person next to me. Looking around, I find others are doing the same, and the more we smile, the freer we dance. We’re morning vampires. We’re alive. We’re free.

Want to greet the day with a dancing session with a difference? Find out more about Secret Sunrise and the next session here

The best of electronic dance music in Cape Town

Over the last few years electronic dance music events have exploded in Cape Town. Manager and events booker Dominique Gawlowski breaks down which venues best showcase EDM.

It’s astonishing how much electronic dance music is growing and developing when you take into consideration our geographical and economic disadvantages. Despite these we are still finding ways to bring international artists to Cape Town, as well as seeing more and more European and American tours by South African artists. Ten years ago these things just didn’t happen.

Currently we have a number of electronic music festivals, such as the Cape Town Electronic Music Festival, Grietfest, Sonar, Ultra, Resonance and Earthdance. There’s also a rise in the number of successful genre-based boutique music festivals catering to the electronic dance music EDM audiences, such as Wolfkop, Twilight, We Love Summer and Tropical Roast. That’s a pretty impressive amount when you factor in the limited demographics of people who are able to afford these events and generally be interested in electronic dance music.

When my overseas friends come to visit Cape Town I give them three names: The Assembly, Fiction and Era. I know these are no big secrets, but they truly are where you should go to see and hear real quality.

All three have their completely separate charms. Fiction has hosted literally the biggest names in the world such as Skrillex, Boysnoize, Pendulum, DJ Fresh, Friction, Cyantific and more, yet only has a dance floor for 250 people.

Era is a club that is completely on par with the best of the best by international standards. It’s a basement techno and house club that has immaculate attention to detail, to-die-for sound and a general good vibe.

The Assembly is a monument to achievement in bringing a quality space for international and local stars to come and play. Its size alone makes it a sought-after venue for any travelling act, as does its attention to quality audio, stage production and never compromising on always rewarding their audiences with a good show. This is simply not possible in the smaller venues. No matter what your taste in electronic dance music is you’ll find it in one of those three venues.

Where to party in Cape Town’s southern suburbs

Only 15 minutes drive from Cape Town’s city centre, the leafy suburb of Claremont is the nightlife centre of the area known as the Southern Suburbs. When night falls, the predominantly student population comes out to party!

Main Road is the long, primary arterial road leading out of Cape Town central towards the False Bay coast. The Claremont section of this road houses a complex known as Stadium On Main. Inside you’ll find Tin Roof, the perfect place to let your hair down and dance up a storm. The music varies from old school hip hop to classic rock and the dress code is smart casual. A bonus is that there is no cover charge, which fits the budget of the many students and young adults who make this their local.

With a host of cool events, including the odd wet T-shirt competition, Tiger Tiger is one of the more lively clubs in the area. Also in Stadium on Main, but upstairs from Tin Roof, the music here is more of a commercial dance variety. Entrance fee is R50 (but free before 21h30) and age restriction is 18 on Thursday nights but 21 otherwise. Dress code is smart. This is a great club to meet singles and get down on the dance floor.

A decent option if you’re not looking for a “club” is the local Stones. Part of a Cape Town chain, these are non-sleazy pool bars where young people gather to play pool or foosball, chat and sometimes dance to whatever’s on offer. The music here is old school commercial during the day and changes to commercial house at night, depending on the crowd.

Last but not least, Oblivion is a European style wine bar and restaurant located in Chichester Street, Claremont. There is no entrance fee and this club attracts a slightly older age group around 25 to 35. The music varies from pop to commercial. This is great for a crazy night of dancing on tables and the multi-coloured dance floor.

Where to party in Sea Point

Sea Point, Green Point and the surrounding areas are well known for their popularity amongst visitors to Cape Town. Accommodation is of a high standard and appeals to a range of budgets. Add to this the fact that you don’t have to travel into the city centre in order to go clubbing, and your choice of destination could not be more ideal.

On the main road of Sea Point a brightly lit doorway welcomes you to the underground dance club DecoDance. If you’re looking for a diverse crowd of all age groups dancing and singing along to hits from the ‘60s, ’70s and ’80s, then this is the place for you. The venue, which often hosts bachelorette and birthday parties as well, has both a smoking and non-smoking dancefloor.

Nestled above Mano’s restaurant on Green Point’s Main Road, Jade Champagne Bar & Lounge is an upmarket, more discerning club with a strict age restriction of 23. There is no cover charge, but there is a semi-formal dress code and access is at the discretion of the door staff. The music on offer is an array of r’n’b, hip-hop, nu disco, house and funk, depending on the night.

On the outskirts of the city in the De Waterkant district, the gay community reigns supreme. Whether you are straight or gay, Crew Bar, Beaulah Bar and a whole host of other venues will offer you a night of decadence, good-looking shirtless barmen and a playlist of commercial electronic dance music, house and disco.