Hotel Victoria Mews on New Street is not what it appears to be. After years masquerading as a hotel, the Vic has been revived as a music venue.
In the ‘80s, the Vic was one of Grahamstown’s main clubs and was hugely popular with Rhodes students. Local musician Strato Copteros says that the Vic was synonymous in those days with the raucous student lifestyle. “Back then it was mad and completely different to what it is now,” he says. “It was always packed with students.”
Sophia Zacharellis, the mother of venue owner Anna Zacharellis, agreed that the club had a great energy when it was first bought. “It was full of students and local bands,” she says. “The first night they had it even I was on the dance floor.”
Eventually, however, Zacharellis family converted the dance floor into a restaurant, The Henry Ate, one of the venues for which Victoria Mews has been best known since.
This year the Vic is making a comeback on Grahamstown’s music scene. With jazz nights and acoustic evenings, the venue is tapping into its musical roots.
Sophia Zacharellis says the venue has matured. “I prefer this scene far more than what the Vic used to be,” she says. “This is far mellower and it’s an amazing space for local artists to perform.”
Copteros says the Vic will once again become a player in the local music scene. “It has definitely been maturing with age,” he says. “It has gained a new style in its old age and it is ready to contribute.”
The Vic will host Fringe music events as well as multiple Late Nite Sessions organised by Copteros (not in programme). In all, fourteen local, national and international musicians will perform during the Festival.
“The Vic stage is going to be packed with artists such as Zebra & Giraffe, Nomadic Orchestra, The Fishwives and Steve Newman,” Copteros says. “It’s going to be an amazing collection of talent.”
Late Nite Sessions, The Vic, 4-9, 11 July, 9pm
– Wynona Latham
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