Stranger than Fiction

Long Street’s favourite alternative club is back

Lovers of techno, nu-rave, indie – basically every alternative music genre you can imagine - were devastated when Fiction Bar closed its doors. The scene stalwart had been open for over five years, and had a passionate following of regulars. Three of them, over a late night drink with the previous owner, jumped at the chance to keep the brand alive. Fast forward six months – and the doors are open again.

We’re downstairs at restaurant and coffee shop Lola’s in Cape Town city centre. New owners, Robbie Mulholland and Thomas Kennedy (the third, Don Blignaut, is upstairs) have been partying at Fiction since its inception.

“In varsity days, we spent all our money there,” says Robbie. Both are in their early twenties, clean cut, good looking guys – a far cry from an image of a shady club owner dripping in gold chains and women.

“It’s not just about the club, but about Long Street in general,” adds Thomas. “In the last couple of years there’s been a deterioration, and we want to help uplift the street, keep it safe.” In order to help accomplish this they’ve installed new CCTV cameras on the street corners, and will be working closely with the Central City Improvement District (CCID), by reporting recorded crimes as well as by hosting monthly charity evenings called ‘Turn the Tables’- whereby different organisations will be highlighted, and funds raised. Altruism paired with alternative music, of course.

The dance floor

We’ve left our sidewalk table for a tour of the newly refurbished club. A heritage building, it dates back to 1856, and in the last six months it’s had a complete structural overhaul. Support columns, new walls, and the unisex bathrooms (that had many girls complaining) have now been moved to the second floor, this time with one for each sex.

The dance floor, previously a space that could fit 50, uncomfortably, now looks as if it could easily hold 200. Thomas points to where the old DJ booth was outlined in masking tape;like a chalk drawing of a dead body. It’s tiny in comparison to the stage that now flanks the far wall.

“Check out our new bar,” he says. “It’s made from 3000 individual pieces of wood—all glued by the three of us.”

Gaming culture meets cocktail hour

The grass is greener upstairs, literally. Carpeted in Astro Turf, stairs of bright emerald lead you to the ‘daytime bar’ on the second level (which used to be office space).  Decked out with wooden benches and counters, the effect is minimalist and fresh.

“This is our baby,” says Thomas. “The concept is around the gaming culture, there’ll be video games and themed drinks; like the Mario and Luigi—a green shot followed by a red one.

“We’ll be open from 12 in the afternoon, serving craft beer and cocktails.”

Up yet more green stairs is the rooftop. The entrance to this is a glass conservatory. “We’ll hang Mario clouds from here,” says Thomas pointing to the glass ceiling. The view is of Cape Town’s architecture, like so many Art Deco wave crests.

Fiction nights

As fans of the brand, the trio will be sticking to the same kind of parties that have made Fiction so popular. “The music will be a journey through different genres,” says Thomas.

New additions include; Equinox Wednesdays, which are progressive and techno hybrid evenings. “We don’t want these nights to be confused with trance parties. There will be some psy acts, but no stretch fabric and mushrooms all over the place.”

There’s a new Friday night too, called  ‘& Friends’. The headlining act of the night will choose the rest of the line-up: “they tell us who else they want to play; and we run it for them.”

Expect the likes of Niskerone, PHfat, Mix & Blend, on any given night. Plus, the first month alone has seen three international acts, including JFK from Paris and indie electro group Zombie Nation.

Can a club in Cape Town beat the odds, and stay open for years to come? It seems stranger than fiction, but this particular club literally has a new lease on life.

By Malu Lambert

Fiction Bar
Opening times:
9pm – 4am; Tuesday to Saturday
226 Long Street | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 424 5709

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