Clubs feel the pinch of a dwindling economy

RHYTHM Divine, once considered one of East London’s hottest nightclubs, was auctioned this week after a drastic decline in the number of patrons saw revenue decline.

Club owner Anthony Ioannides told the Saturday Dispatch the East London nightclub scene had changed dramatically over the years. The Lambert Road, Southernwood club was opened in 2009 and drew many national and local artists.

A scene from Numbers Dance Club Picture Dylan Wearing
PARTY TIME: Revellers enjoy the vibe at Numbers Dance Club Picture: DYLAN WEARING

Ioannides said a lot of people initially supported the club and business had been great. “The first couple of years were good but round about last year things changed for the worse,” he said.

Ioannides also owns Rhythm Bar in Amalinda Main Road. “The bar is doing well. People do not mind going to bars. While there is a decline in club-goers, bar-goers are growing,” he said.

Ioannides said the economy was playing a large part in the decline of nightclubs as people did not have the cash to go clubbing anymore.

Nightclubs have traditionally charged patrons a cover fee.

Numbers Dance Club owner Peter Crowder said he had also noticed a decline in business. “There has been a downward trend that started about three to five years ago but last year was the worst of the years,” he said.

Started in 1981, Numbers has managed to stay popular with East London youth for over 30 years, but Crowder said times had changed.

He refuted rumours doing the rounds that Numbers had been sold or was up for sale. “I won’t comment on rumours but one thing I know is there isn’t any person who can afford Numbers in East London,” he said, adding it was business as usual at the club.

Crowder said anyone planning to start a club in East London should think carefully before doing so.

Vincent’s Bar Kulcha owner Sbu Mtshatsheni said this time of year was always difficult for business as people did not have money following the festive season. “It is a general thing. People don’t go out as often,” he said.

In reply to a question on the decline in the nightclub scene that was posted on the Dispatch Facebook page, some readers said they preferred staying at home while others opted for cheaper alternatives.

“Clubs are pricey. Staying at home is much cheaper and safer,” said Sandiso Malungisa. “I find it pointless and irresponsible driving to a club knowing very well you’re going to drink and still have to drive later.”

Brendan Toughey said most people were feeling the economic pinch. “It is much cheaper to stay at home and braai with a few friends; and not to mention the dangers of going out at night. It is not worth the risk,” he said.

Others responded by saying they could have as much fun in a bar where drinks were often cheaper and without the cover charge. —