Level: Cairo Nightlife Expands With New Zamalek Bar
Imperial Boat, 19 Saray El Gezirah St.
A new nightclub is always a welcome addition to the cliquey Cairo nightlife scene. Observing the hype around the opening of Level on the Imperial Boat in Zamalek, Cairo 360 headed out to their ‘Commercial Night’, late on a Friday night. After confirming our booking with the bouncers in the lobby, we confidently strolled down the spiral stairs and into the club.
The décor was simple but stylish, painted a charcoal grey with funky pop-art adorning the walls. The windows across the side are just above water level and the soft waves affirmed of our floating, mid-Nile position. There was no clear dance-floor, just a space in the middle of all the surrounding chairs and tables.
We scoured the tables for our name, but it appeared that the promoter had only booked us in for bar space, for which we paid a hefty 250LE minimum each. Despite the manager promising us the next free table, our complaint was soon forgotten and never materialised.
On this particular night, the crowd wasn’t especially distinctive; there were a few young party girls in short dresses, but several groups were underdressed, sitting around eating.
We positioned ourselves at the bar, stretched out almost entirely across one side of the club, drinks menu in hand. Having heard good things about the mixing skills of the foreign bar staff, we sought out their resident Johnny Depp look-alike and requested one Melon Smash (65LE) and a double Jack Daniels and coke (135LE), which was served in a tall glass over ice and was followed in quick succession by a French Martini (65LE) and a Porn Star cocktail (65LE) – exotic!
The barman worked extraordinarily quickly and, as promised, produced some of the best cocktails we’ve had in Cairo. The Melon Smash was the most delicious of the three; a vodka-infused mix of watermelon, pomegranate and passion fruit served chilled with a fresh slice of watermelon. The Porn Star was a kinky concoction of vodka, vanilla, mango and passion fruit, with a cheeky side shot of pink champagne. Last but not least, the French Martini was a twist on the original vodka martini and incorporated raspberry and pineapple flavours, and sported a thin layer of froth on top. All the cocktails were superbly mixed and can be served without alcohol.
We began dancing on the spot as the DJ set began with some up-to-date chart hits; however, as the night went on, we noticed some that ancient classics began creeping their way in. The ratio of Arabic-English songs became uneven too, resulting in around ten Arabic songs to every two English. Finding ourselves a little hot and bothered towards the end, occasionally choking from the smoky atmosphere, we left the boat feeling a little disheartened.
We don’t know how Level got it so right but so wrong at the same time. With its unique Nile position, cool décor and delicious cocktails, it should have been a trendy night spot for the young and fashionable to flock to. What we’re left with instead is a new venue whose owners think that they have done all the hardwork already –an inevitable path to disaster.