Opening within days, TIU sees Cairo's fraternity of party pros join forces for the first time ever. In this CairoScene exclusive, Amy Mowafi heads to the site to pick the brains of the men who built an industry from the business of pleasure.
First, the elephant in the room. Tamarai is no more. And it doesn’t matter if you love(d) it or tweeted viciously about it somehow exemplifying all that was/is wrong with ‘elite’ Egypt. It was there, and it was glamorous and there were plenty who wanted to be the anyone who was someone enough to get in and see and be seen, etc. etc.
But politics got in the way. No one much feels like being “exclusive” when there’s a revolution (literal and psychological) going on. So the every-ones who were some-ones just called up their alcohol dealer and kind of sulked off to a house party somewhere. And everyone else climbed up onto their high-horse and made Tamarai the Old Egypt whipping horse, and it all became just so ridiculous. And pretty soon everyone was just over it. Including, one got the sense, the boys behind the brand. It’s not much fun forcing people to have fun when no one’s really feeling it. BUT…
But things are a little different now. It feels like the cloud has been lifted, and it’s not about the politics of it, but the psychology of it. Whichever side of the fence you’re standing on, or if like many you’re kind of just straddling and waiting to see how the hell things are going to pan out, there’s an eagerness to get back to the business of just living and, occasionally, living it up. You saw it on the North Coast this past summer and you saw it on the streets of Cairo this past Eid.
So it seems like the perfect time for rebirth and new beginnings. To that end, there’s a different kind of politicking been going on behind the scenes. The party powerhouses behind the brand Ayman Baky and Ahmed Beltagy have teamed with the infamous Ahmed Ganzoury of ByGanz events. And then hell froze over and pigs flew and everyone got super confused because that is not the natural order of things. But oh-so-smart. Why divide and conquer Cairo’s partygoers when there’s such strength and numbers? Round up the fabulous under one roof and let’s show those hipsters how it’s really done. It’s the equivalent of Al Capone and Lucky Luciano teaming up to screw everyone over all at once.
Ladies and gentleman, a big round of applause please for TIU. The indoor area of the sky-high club has been completely scrapped and now it’s one big multi-leveled multi-faceted rooftop space inspired by the journey of a diamond – formed under pressure and gearing up to glitter in the rough. “Tamarai was a gorgeous and glamorous girl but TIU is a guy - strong, raw, powerful and aggressive,” says Ganzoury, when we meet at the site over the summer. “How bad do you want him?” he adds… of course. There’s the aggressive roar of power tools in the background (appropriately) and the boys have spent the morning getting their hands dirty. And not just for the cameras. They’re involved in every excruciating detail in a bid to make this the best thing that has happened to the Cairo clubbing scene since.
So the design is by Belgian Ghautier Guillame from GG&Grace, the sound and lights are up to high-tech international standards and it all comes served up with that incredible panoramic Nile view. It’s been a long time in the making, this special union. “It was meant to happen a long time ago though it didn’t work out at first,” says Ganzoury. “But deep down we knew we were going to be together at one point. To be honest it was Beltagy who made it happen. He truly believed in what we could do if we joined forces.”
“We all have changed and we’ve all grown up,” adds Beltagy. “We’ve had our share of the success and failures and we reached maturity and decided that no matter what and no matter how different we are, we can make this work, and I truly believe our persistence is going to pay off.”
For a time, Baky was reluctant. The lack of security and the national uncertainty had curbed his enthusiasm and he wanted to focus on smaller, more personal passion projects. But now, according to the boys, he’s the backbone and when I ask just how they plan on dealing with the inevitable disagreements, the outsized egos, the predictable proverbial punch-ups, he’s the first to interject. “I think the most important thing you need to know is that we know each and everyone’s qualifications. So it’s like managing a small company. Everyone knows what he’s doing and everyone has his obligations throughout the next five to ten years, or however long this thing is going to continue. It’s very different to how it was. It’s no longer about ego. It’s more about the business itself and we all really want to make it work.”
ByGanz’s signature events - like Teadance and Disco Fil 90s – will find a permanent new home at the venue, while regular weekly nights will offer up a little something for everyone (who’s anyone). They promise a smorgasbord of after-dark surprises. “At the end of the days it’s about good service and good entertainment,” says Baky. “It’s the cornerstone of any venue anywhere in the world.”
And what of the crowd? Much as they might hate to admit it, the boys are getting older. “Baky got married and then Beltagy got really upset,” jokes Ganzoury. “And now I’m the one who’s really upset because they’re both married.” But joking aside, do they still have what it takes to pull in the young, hot and hip? “We are confident we can mix it up,” says Baky. “ We will have nights the older crowd will love - once every few weeks as they don’t go out as often - and other nights the younger ones will want to be a part of. There is a generation that has come up and this generation understand the music scene and the club scene abroad and I’m sure with Ganzoury’s experience and Beltagy’s music connections we’ll be able to impress.”
While they’re willing to wax lyrical about the behind-the-scenes challenges they remain tight-lipped about what TIU, with its soft opening just days away, will actually look and feel like. They want it to speak for itself. They want you to enter and be enraptured. Even the long term visions remains purposefully vague.
“Look,”Ganz starts, “let’s just say that pretty soon you’ll be back interviewing us about what a success this place has become.” Them fighting words. Let the games begin…
Find out more about TIU ahead of its official launch on their Facebook group here and follow @TIUEG on Instagram.
Photographs by Eslam 'Piko' El Hefny.