Every neighbourhood has a secret. In the Cape Town city centre, it’s The Bullion Bar, a new underground electronic music venue that is, well, quite literally underground.
Buried deep down in a basement on Burg Street, and with no signage whatsoever to give away its whereabouts, the Berlin-inspired techno haunt is the sort of clandestine spot that’s only frequented by those in the know. It’s also a prime example of how some of the more precious things in life tend to remain concealed.
“We get gold by digging deep,” says co-owner Ernest Ndala, the former manager of hidden Mother City hotspot Julep, explaining the reasoning behind the name of the bar (bullion mean gold bars or slabs). “So here, it’s about going down to find that gold: the exclusive ambience and that special kind of music.”
Unlike some other electronic dance music (EDM) joints that focus on hard techno beats, The Bullion Bar is home to a smoother, softer brand of deep soul tech that provides a bit of flavour on the dance floor and invites plenty of swinging and swaying into the wee hours of the morning. And the masters behind the melodies? Well, the alternative nightlife haunt frequently hosts an impressive line-up of some of the top underground Mother City DJs – think the likes of Bruno Morphet, Floyd Lavine, Malcolm Skene and Lady M – as well as a few international stars (look out for regular organised themed parties featuring big names in the electro world).
While these deck wizards get the party pumping from around 10pm onwards, a little earlier in the evening, the moody, dimly lit venue takes on a more lounge-y feel, making it a good choice for a chilled drink set against the backdrop of instrumental-style electro beats. Patrons can take a seat at the sleek bar or on one of several black leather couches – there are also two African-style feature chairs carved from unpolished wood – and get into the groove of things with a selection of boozy items.
On the menu is your standard selection of potion: beer dumpies, house wine, spirits, liquors, Champagne (Moët & Chandon and G.H. Mumm) and local bubbly. But as of 1 February 2014 (the official launch date), the bar will also be serving a medley of cocktails, including a few arty options that have been created especially for Bullion, like the fruity Citrus Circus (vodka, cranberry and orange juice). Not to mention, on Fridays and Saturdays, guests can pick up a double vodka and Red Bull at the special rate of R50, and on Fridays only, a double brandy and Coke goes for R30.
These deals may pull in slightly larger crowds, but generally, the appeal of the electro establishment remains in the fact that it avoids the commercial limelight and beckons to the sort of party people that prefer to fly beneath the radar. It’s the very fact that this undercover venue is not going to be everyone’s pot of gold that gives the spot its glitter.
Tip: On nights that the bar hosts special organised parties, the first 20 to 30 guests to arrive get in for free!
The Bill: Men are charged a R50 entrance fee and ladies get in for free up until 11pm; after 11pm, ladies pay R50 too. On special party nights, entrance fees are higher. On the drinks side, prices are fair: bottled beer costs R20, a glass of wine rings in at R25 and spirits are priced at between R20 and R25.
Note: The Bullion Bar has an over-21 policy for both men and ladies.