BY KERSTIN LEE
Club culture at Stellenbosch University (SU) is an integral facet of student life. It serves as a break from a rigid class schedule and demanding modules. It is a time for one to release their inhibitions and escape to a world of thumping bass and dancing strobe lights.
The music, the fashion and the clubs may have changed, but throughout the decades, there has always been a place to celebrate the day’s triumphs or dance away from its woes.
One such place to lose all sense of self was “The Square” (Drostdy Square). Once the hub of Stellenbosch nightlife, “The Square” played host to Tin Roof, Terrace, Catwalk, Stones and Cubaña. Although the fate of “The Square” has been sealed, it has been in the lives of Stellenbosch students for a long time. Each club has a personality of its own. The quaint names, unique décor and the memories embedded in the establishments have inspired numerous articles published by Die Matie over the years on perfect places to have a night out and opinion pieces on the best DJs.
In past publications, Nu’Bar was highlighted as having notoriously long lines; Catwalk was quoted as “diversity galore” whereas Springboks (now closed), was described as “kort rompies galore”. Entourage has always been the home of house music and hip-hop, whereas De Lapa caters for ‘someone looking for a bit of everything’.
Every student has their own story (or perhaps multiple stories) of “going to town”. There may be decades between them, but there are always a few quirks of the town that tie all SU students together.
De Akker is the oldest pub in Stellenbosch and has seen its fair share of memorable evenings and restless nights. It is the epitome of old charm. Its name was derived from the oak trees peppered throughout the town (although it had held previous names like the ‘Railway Bar’ and the ‘Station Bar’).
The patrons are the light and life of this pub. “The atmosphere is like nowhere else in Stellenbosch. It feels like home,” said Sidney Smuts, a regular patron reminiscing on her time spent at the pub (Die Matie, 10 February 2010).
De Akker has also played host to multiple celebrities over the years, such as Schalk Burger, Koos Kombuis and Arno Carstens to name a few. De Akker is an institution in its own right. The establishment of the building (initially a thatched roof manor) is shrouded in mystery. Records of its origin were destroyed in a fire during a slave revolt in the 1800s when the municipality building was burnt down. It is suspected that De Akker was built between 1780 and 1813.
However, in 2008, it almost closed its doors due to a change in ownership. Many were worried that De Akker’s unique atmosphere would be altered by the change. But, it has stood the test of time and remains the familiar kuierplek it is today. The pub still has a long-standing reign ahead of it, but its most memorable stories are immortalised by the patrons who step through its doors.
Whatever state the world may be in and no matter how much a student has on their mind, there is always a club and a good time that awaits them at SU. Students of SU will always find solace in their beloved and unique clubs. The pandemic may have halted evenings out, and developments and closures have dampened spirits. However, wherever there is a Stellenbosch student, you will find them having a good time with friends, no matter the decade.