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Cairo Rumours: One of the Only Bars in Mohandiseen
The neighbourhood of Mohandiseen isn’t exactly known for its vivid nightlife. Though a safe bet for shopping, eating or having a cup of coffee, it is not the first place that comes to mind when going for a night out. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any bars in Mohandiseen. Cairo Rumours is located on Syria Street just above Asian restaurant Chopsticks.
After entering, take the stairs up, and you will immediately find yourself on the dance floor of the venue. At the time of our visit, the place was extremely dark and there weren’t many other guests present. There are a lot of high tables and some seats at the bar. A mirrored wall gives the impression is bigger than it actually is. We settled for one of the high tables in a corner. Tables are very close to one another, and so it wasn’t the most comfortable seating arrangement. Despite being one of the few customers, it took the staff a while to finally deliver our menu.
The menu was one big collection of grammar and spelling mistakes such as; ‘coctal’, ‘bloody merry’, ‘Black Russiar’ and ‘Bena Colade’. We opted for a Negroni (50LE), Margarita (50LE) and a Long Island (60LE).
After waiting a good fifteen minutes, our drinks finally arrived and this is where the disappointment began. The Negroni had the cough syrup taste it's supposed to have, but it was a bit overdone, and ironically made us cough and splutter. The Margarita was more of a slush puppy gone wrong, and we struggled to find any alcohol in it. The Long Island however, was high on spirits with an overdose of gin. Although it tasted a bit bitterer than it should, it definitely got our blood running. Throughout the night, we were presented with a complimentary nut mix.
The music at the time of our visit was pretty bland, and actually stopped every once in a while (usually just as we were screaming to each other how disappointing the drinks were and how we didn’t like the place). In the meantime, the resident DJ was getting ready to set up. He plays every Monday and and Friday from 11PM and sticks to r&b and hip-hop. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday there is live entertainment. There is also a small food menu with small Asian dishes prepared by downstairs restaurant Chopsticks.
Though this isn’t the worst place we’ve ever been to, we weren’t too impressed. The venue lacked atmosphere and the drinks were concocted very poorly. However, it is the only bar in close proximity to the area, and it probably wouldn’t hurt to knock down a beer here. As long as you stay away from the ‘coctals’, you’ll be fine.
Located on Qasr El Nil Street, right next to Qasr El Nil Theatre in Downtown Cairo, VENT offers local culture enthusiasts an alternative to the better established bars and clubs in Cairo by labelling itself as both a bar and cultural space.
Taking over the venue that was once Arabesque, VENT is relatively easy to spot, with the sign of the previous bar remaining in place.
Offering a variety of culture events, from live music, film screenings, to site-specific plays, an entrance fee of 50LE is required on all nights except on Thursday when the fee gets bumped up to 150LE. Having recently celebrated a six-month anniversary, VENT is everything an ‘underground’ space should be.
The interior is characterised by lighting choice, utilising a stark contrast between the dark and intense lights during upbeat DJ performances, and more mellow and relaxing lighting during live musician performances. Contrasting the poster-decorated walls are old tile clad floors, emblematic of Downtown’s rich heritage.
A spacious bar takes up most of the facing wall once you enter, offering a range of drinks, with a Heineken going for 30LE and soft drinks for 15LE. There is also a decent-sized menu that includes a choice of mezza platters (40LE-65LE), nachos (30LE), sandwiches (30LE-50LE) and pastas (45LE).
We opted for a Club Sandwich (40LE) which was thick and juicy, stacked with fresh ingredients and served with deliciously thick-cut French fries.
Their nachos are a good on-the-go choice, though they could do with more generous dressings as we found the dish to be slightly dry as opposed to gooey and luscious.
However, VENT is not particularly about the food, but much rather about the show. A monthly schedule provides information on upcoming events and while VENT promises a range of cultural doings, music has for the most part taken over.
With live musicians such as PanSTARSS, Aya Metwalli and the Invisible Hands taking to the stage, as have quite a few local and international DJs, there have also been the more obscure of music nights such as the one featuring Maxime Denuc; a sound producer from France.
Though the music line-ups and their variety have given music buffs a reason to leave their house in search of new sounds, VENT's hosting of non-music events is somewhat lacking - a stark reality of Cairo's cultural landscape.
All in all, Vent has come as an uplifting change from the monotonous, musically bland nightlife scene in Cairo, securing a safe haven for those uninterested in pretentious attitudes, repetitive crowds and the 'thud, thud, thud' atmosphere of the city's most frequented bars.