Late Nights and Lazy Lounging in Cape Town
By Kobus van der Merwe
The inhabitants of the beautiful seaside city of Cape Town, South Africa, are notoriously easygoing. And even though the Mexican idea of siesta has not been instituted here, the concept is certainly not foreign to any deserving Capetonian. No wonder the Mother City's social scene is bursting at the seams with an exciting mix of laid back lounges, serious clubs and trendy bars with a decidedly African twist.
Ironically, one of the coolest hangouts in Cape Town, is called Joburg. Even though most South Africans travel long distances without blinking twice, an invitation to party in Joburg doesn't necessarily mean booking a flight to Johannesburg. This legendary bar-club is situated in the bustling, cosmopolitan Long Street, and attracts an extremely varied crowd - from trendy locals, grungy art students and international models to part-of-the-furniture regulars and weathered backpackers. You might even find the occasional businessman enjoying an after work drink, seamlessly blending in with the relaxed atmosphere of the place.
The quirky, predominantly red interior is enhanced by a mirror ball shaped like the Johannesburg skyline as well as an impressive permanent collection of work by famous local artists including such respected South African icons as Conrad Botes, Doreen Southwood and Brett Murray.
Adjacent to the bar, is the relatively tiny dance area - jokingly referred to as Pretoria - where some of Cape Town's best DJ's do their thing. The eclectic sounds they produce are synonymous with Joburg and include anything from serious Hip-Hop, to Electro Eighties Pop and Live Jazz. From the wall of the raised DJ-box a neon sign declaring the sentence "Know thy worth", casts a sexy glow on the good looking crowd getting down with it, below.
For late night winding down, head a block further up the road to the equally fashionable Marvel, where you'll most definitely find the religious Joburg crowd getting their late night fix of vinyl scratching, while lounging in the bistro-style seating till the early hours of the morning.
Further down the street, the choice of venue is as diverse as the many cultures housed in this city. At Orchard Bank sip on fishbowl-sized cocktails in the minimalist lounge, or head to the huge dance floor in the basement, where a mixed crowd dances to anything from House, to Pop and Reggae.
Diagonally opposite, down a hidden, narrow alley, is the sleek Miam-Miam where early night drinks can easily turn into late night dancing. But if you're not in the mood for a squeaky clean crowd, head upstairs to Zula where Cape Town's Goth crowd headbang to the dark sounds of serious Metal, Goth-Funk and the occasional live band.
On the other side of town, in the slightly more commercial clubbing hot spot of Somerset road in Greenpoint, devoted clubbers rub shoulders with students on mid-week booze binges and trendy suburbanites looking for their fix of serious dancing. Here, designer hangouts like Opium - a winning combination of stylish cocktail lounge and serious dance floor - and the more definitive clubbing hub, Confessions, draw polished crowds who are as serious about their fashionable attire as they are about their dance moves.
On a prominent street corner in this district, Cape Town's oldest and most famous gay club, Bronx, is situated. Here predominantly gay men and a rather strong following of straight women come to enjoy good music and incredibly good-looking barmen. The varied crowd inevitably includes some straight-guys-in-the-know, hoping to find a beautiful girl with her guard down.
If any or all of the above sound like too much of a commitment, head over the mountain to the breathtakingly beautiful Camps Bay, where you can have a quiet drink in a sophisticated cocktail lounge while soaking up the sun and enjoying some of the most spectacular sunsets on the African continent.
With a happening social scene and such a wide range of incredibly cool venue's, Cape Town is any holiday maker's paradise. No matter what your preference or mood - if you plan to visit Cape Town with the intention of winding-down, you're most certainly on your way to the perfect destination.
About The Author
Kobus van der Merwe is the editor of CityGuideSA.com - a comprehensive online travel resource with up-to-date information on where to Eat, Stay and Play in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and the Garden Route.