The end – Bronx being demolished (Pic: Gareth Dallas)
The building that housed Cape Town’s most famous gay nightclub, Bronx, is being torn down, marking the end of an era for the city’s gay community.
This week, bulldozers and construction workers were seen demolishing the once popular hotspot that became known not just for its good times but also for its turbulent history.
Scores of former Bronx partygoers expressed their sadness on Facebook at pictures of the venue being demolished.
“I turned 18 in that club” and “Lots of great, fun memories there,” were two comments.
Others said, “My first gay club ever… some amazing times” and
“That’s so sad…at least the first time it was torn down, it popped back up on the other side of the street”.
Philip King, one of the early owners, told Mambaonline that the club began its life in 1994 – the start of the new South Africa – in Green Point’s gay village area across the road from its most recent location.
It was called the Crew Bar then and only became known as Bronx in 1996 or 1997, King said. After that building was demolished to make way for new retail development in 2007, Bronx re-opened on the corner of Somerset and Napier streets.
It was eventually bought by its most recent owner Bruno Bronn and another less-commercial dance venue called Navigaytion was opened upstairs from Bronx in the same building.
Over the years, Bronx grew into an institution for both locals and visitors to the Mother City. It also had its fair share of controversy.
In 2008, it was tarred with racism after bouncers were accused of turning away a black Belgian tourist. Bronn denied the claim and insisted that the man was refused entry because he was a “problem client,” not because of his race.
Over the years there were also accusations by Bronn and his managers that during raids on the club police used excessive force and made homophobic comments against patrons.
The venue also became known for a rumoured epidemic of pick-pocketing and even claims that patron’s drinks were being spiked by criminals and would-be rapists.
Early this year, the club was closed down after the building was sold to property developers. Shortly after, came the most shocking news of all: that of Bronn’s brutal murder.
His body was found by a domestic worker at his Sea Point home on 7 February. It is believed that he was strangled to death. The case generated huge media interest and speculation was rife as to the motive for the murder.
Four men were arrested and will be tried for Bronn’s murder in the coming months.
And what will become of what used to be Bronx?
According to Ian McMahon, MCQP promoter and the owner of the nearby Crew Bar (unrelated to the original), the lot is expected to remain vacant for up to a year as the owners apply for building permissions.
He told Mambaonline that he has been informed that there are plans to build a retail space on the ground floor of the location with offices located above.
Still, Bronx will live on for a while yet.
McMahon revealed that he had rescued some memorabilia from the venue before it was torn down, including the famous Bronx sign, and that he plans to place these items on a “memorial wall” in his venue.