The long-anticipated opening night of Vent had cool kids from across Cairo queuing up to get a peek. Timmy Mowafi gives the new downtown bar and performance space the once over.
Every story needs a location, a place you experience with future nostalgia of its own importance; where your moments become part of what is bound to be a tiny thread in a historic tapestry. At the beginning of the year, I put in my optimistic two cents on the volcanic music scene that has slowly and surly cultivated its self as of late. The problem was that it was missing one factor that defines any epic sub-cultural boom, and that was an epicentre. The comparison of course is superfluous, but, for the Bohemians it was Warhol’s Factory, for Ravers it was the Hacienda. For the creative Egyptian, the last of a dying breed, who procreate knowledge outside the bubble of our incestuous and banal social circles, who willingly go against the dogmatic grain, that place is Vent. It's ironic, sad and very promising that a venue so reflective our times is also a venue that makes you feel like you're not in Cairo.
Call it westernisation or elitism or racism, but that's usually my first test when I walk into a venue in Cairo. Am I in Cairo? And the fact is, when I walked into Vent for the first time on their opening night last Thursday, I wasn't. With Ahmed Samy in his own universe of dark minimal beats and what I imagined were Nightmare Before Christmas characters swirling around his head, the walls slathered in thick matte black, cement pillars with tongue in cheek ‘house rules ‘graffited on, chalk board menus and chained light bulbs accenting the industrial, grungy, interiors it was much more reminiscent of an underground club in, say, Berlin or London. It's as if the five young Egyptians involved in the curation of this hipster Mecca got drunk on every euphoric image of a night out they'd ever had and urinated it over 6, Kasr el Nil St, in a moment of awesome public dissonance.
And for the record, getting drunk at the alternative downtown space is pretty cheap ,with a beer costing you only 23 LE; just as it should. For the time being, the service is a bit slow and uncommunicative, but it is understandable for a venue which has just stared. Unfortunetly there was an issue with one of the mixer's channels during the Wetrobots <3 Bosaina performance that left the vocals somewhat inaudible but was redeemed by the explosive showmanship and the sound, coming out of Funktion 1 speakers was rectified promptly in time for DJ Rags from the UK.
He followed the 'Bots up with a seriously diverse Hip Hop set that showed the venue isn't after alienating its crowd, instead willing to give it some words it knows with some sounds it doesn’t. It was a great choice for an opening act and I'm looking forward to the other international artists they'll be getting in soon. More exciting than that though is a sense that the local acts have a feeling of appreciation and satisfaction that they can do whatever the fuck they feel like on stage and it's okay because no one’s going to tell them to play Mambo No 5 for their paycheck.
The place is open every day from midday and is great for a chilled lunch with a beer or a pre-party snack. I tried the burger, it was delicious. Three nights a week there'll be live entertainment including a DJ night and a Hip Hop night, as well as a whole host of art exhibitions and theatre that is soon to be announced.
Vent is a bubble. It's a bubble to vent. And the more you vent every single piece of you that's just dying to get out there, the bigger the bubble grows. So here's to venting into that bubble and blowing up the epicentre of something very special.
Keep up to date with Vent and follow @VentCairo on Twitter.