Clubs, pubs, and taverns galore decorate the streets of South Africa’s most touristy city during its pulsating weekend nightlife – but what’s there to do and see when the weekend is a distant dream and we need a fix for those Monday to Thursday blues?
Cape Town is home to several cultural activities, and when the daytime fades and the streetlights come on, it’s time to play. But for those not in the local know-how, what can one do during the weekday that doesn’t leave you digging deeply through your wallet?
1.) Go to House of The Machine on Tuesdays for Open Mike night
You’ll be forgiven for believing that “open-mike” is synonymous with karaoke-level quality singing, implying a variety of performers ranging in levels from poor to semi-professional.
The House of Machines, based in the heart of central Cape Town, throws all of that out the window by showcasing top-shelf singers, exotic instrument players, rappers, and slam poetry artists – sometimes a dizzying combination of all the above. The MC of the evening – Andy Lund – is no exception; effortlessly juggling between hyping up the crowd and playing a few songs of his own (both originals and covers). He has been the main attraction of The House of Machines since its inception.
It’s open seating with no bookings, so first come first served!
Venue: The House of Machines – 84 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town.
Day of the week: Tuesday
Times: Registration to perform opens at 8 PM, performances begin at 9 PM
Cost: No cover charge.
2) See a show at Alexander Bar
Alexander Bar is a hidden hole-in-the-wall bar in the centre of town and the centre of the heart of every theatre nut in Cape Town.
Home to a diverse crowd made up of avant-garde soaked youth and classically-aged thespians, this sought-after venue requires booking in advance, with shows typically selling out a week before opening. The Theatre Upstairs has hosted a hotbed of dramatically charged one-man-performances, comedic stylings of South African satire, live music, poetic art readings and jaw-dropping magic shows.
It’s the ideal venue to enjoy a light meal and a sensual glass of wine with lovers and friends before soaking in the raw talent of the deep waters of Cape Town’s underground entertainment scene.
Venue: 76 Strand Street, Cape Town.
Day(s) of the week: Monday to Saturday.
Times: 5 PM to midnight
Cost: Tickets range from R50 to R220 depending on the show.
3) Play Bitchy Bingo at Beefcakes
The stakes of a Bingo game have never been higher than when a large man in drag yells out obscenities between winning ball numbers.
Enjoy the finest buns and meat in town, paired with fresh cocktails and fresher-faced waiters. There are great prizes to be won and greater laughs to be had every Thursday at Beefcakes in the Greenpoint area of Cape Town.
Beefcakes was inspired by the Heydays of the ’50s and the trend-setting styles of Miami’s South Beach, as shown by its fabulous displays of frolicking flamingos and its buffed up beefy waiters. A family-friendly luncheon by day, a decadent stage by night.
You have been warned.
Venue: 36 Somerset Rd, Greenpoint, Cape Town,
Day(s) of the week: Thursday (Regular drag shows on Friday and Saturday)
Times: performance starts at 9 PM
Cost: R150 – Includes a Dinner
4) Mojo Market
Do you feel like Italian-style pasta tonight? Mexican tortillas? Turkish kebab? South African Dessert? American Smash Burgers? Wood-fire Pizza?
Ugh, why do we have to choose?
Well, now you can get all these and more under one roof. Adorned with live music, the latest in modern indoor décor, and a warm and welcoming ambience, Mojo Market is located within the bustling heart of Cape Town’s Seapoint region and is an ongoing hotspot for those craving entertainment and a culinary experience you can write home about.
Venue: 30 Regent Road, Seapoint, Cape Town
Day(s) of the week: Monday – Sunday
Times: 8 AM to 11 PM
Cost: No cover charge
5) Labia Theatre movie night
Don’t worry, this isn’t your regular movie theatre, it’s one of the hottest spots for locals to meet up on a night out.
The Labia Theatre is a renowned Cape Town relic and the oldest independent cinema in South Africa. Originally the Italian Embassy’s Ballroom, it was opened by the royal Princess Labia in the year 1949, before being converted to a public cinema by theatre-lover Ludi Kraus in 1989.
It aims to feature mostly screen cult classics and art movies with the occasional box office hit. Many original features remain within the theatre to this day, including the ticket booth, snacks counter and the cinema seats.
Tickets are cheaper here than at other larger company cinemas, often accompanied by drink and dinner specials that promise to deliver a night of movie-stardom adventures and old school classics in one of Cape Town’s most esoteric entertainment venues.
Venue: 68 Orange Street, Cape Town.
Day(s) of the week: Mondays to Sundays
Times: They differ depending on the season, but typically from 12 PM to 9 PM
Cost: All shows are R50