Heineken Star Club: My love for Heineken began on a trip to visit my best friend in Amsterdam last year. Back then it was a hard choice between the sweetest but most repulsive apple cider, or a beer.  I was stuck between a nauseating and alcoholic version of Appletizer and a half loaf of bread in calories (apparently), judging by my muffin top it’s pretty obvious that I chose the beer. We’ve been buddies since.

 

Earlier this year, the Heineken Star Mansion, hosted at Le Chatelat in Sandton dazzled me. Lavish doesn’t do it – it was damn classy. There was Heineken on tap around every corner, fountains, good food, a Heineken closet where we could do our best impersonation of one of the best adverts we’ve seen, and good music, with Ralf Gum on the decks and The Muses closing the event. I’m not about to pretend I know this life, but I’m willing to learn.

 

I wasn’t expecting anything less at the Heineken Star Club, presented by Heineken Live Access, which is a new music platform creating distinctive music experiences around the world. New York’s Quentin Harris and the legendary Kerri Chandler kicked off the South African debut at Nasrec Expo Centre on 29 November. Some of my fellow house music-loving nightriders that I dragged along expressed an initial discomfort with the potential ‘ghettoness’ of the event, but once they walked into the hall, they too were seduced by the classiness. The venue was spacious, the lighting and stage were world-class, the bar fully stocked with beautiful bottles of Heineken (momento, anyone?), plenty of bartenders and the sound system was doing more than justice to the sweet and deep sounds of Ralf Gum.

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My Spidey senses warned that this would be an event with more men than ever appropriate so I recruited my male cousin – good move. Simply put, it was a sausage fest. So it was basically like UJ’s notorious Fresher’s bash, minus the rubber bullets. What a sorry sight. I now understand why the ‘ladies free before’ rule exists. It was a jungle out there!

We seemed to settle in the epicenter of crazy town: there was an elderly (by my standards) man who took delight in constantly nudging and mimicking me; one guy was trashed by 10pm but clearly didn’t have any friends (now I know why) to take him home or rein him in; and a woman was tearing it up in the midst of all of this mess, my hero. Her sister, Palesa, who can do some exceptional things with her bosom (you have to see it to believe it), became my refuge.

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Given the tense circumstance its understandable that when Quentin Harris, and then Kerri Chandler hit the stage, and when the female acrobats were dangling from the ceiling, or even when the hologram popped up, I wasn’t exactly on a high. The fact is, I came to close my eyes, feel the music, raise my hands and stomp. But once Palesa’s sister and the village drunk became dancing partners and opened a circle of all that crazy goodness, I had to keep vigilant not to step into that circus or become the target of drunken courting.

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I was also disappointed with Harris’ set.  Many people were left standing still or having conversations as he hit us with upbeat tracks without any kind of transition or build-up. And that one track (my post-Heineken brain can’t remember which one exactly) that, at first, had the whole crowd turnt up but was milked for far too long. Thanks for putting on a surprisingly entertaining performance though. But you can do better, Quentin. And Kerri Chandler? Well, they don’t call him legendary for nothing.

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Other than that, the production was, well, top class. I probably have unrealistic expectations for future house music lives sets, which means Heineken did what they came to do.

Next up is Shimmy Beach Club on Sunday, 1 December, in Cape Town. You don’t want to miss this.