Driving along the Constantia Neck road in winter feels like the opening scene of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Will some sweet transvestite open the door to us at the end of this intestinal route? I wonder. But the moment I arrive in Hout Bay, it is lights, sand, music, and some serious beer drinking. I guess if you’re bottlenecked by Chapman’s Peak on one side and Constantia
on the other, the only thing to do is party. Pakalolo (Hawaiian for tobacco and crazy) is certainly no Frankenstein’s palace; rather, as the smell of the nearby ocean mingles with cigarette smoke, it’s a temperate version of the laid-back South Seas where you expect someone to approach you and suggest: “We’re going go get high on da pakalolo braddah. You like try come? ”
Friday nights are live music nights and as usual it’s packed. Outside, north-westerly winds might be howling, but inside bodies generate heat, rubbing together like fire sticks. Tonight the band has a dedicated following. People are crammed in so tightly that they have to sit on the bar. With everyone elbow to elbow, the only way to move is up, and when the three guys on stage get their groove on, everyone starts pogoing madly. Catching me getting grinning to the melodious progressive rock sounds, a young guy shouts, “I reckon this is the best band I’ve seen in ten years.” Tonight it’s a 20-something scene, with lots of fondling and kissing observed by bemused elders that have the knowing look of locals.
Forget the pretentious Camps Bay scene up the road. Here, there’s not a high heel or skimpy cocktail dress in sight. The people in Pakalolo are united by a love of ugg boots. And yet, they’ve got an insouciant sexiness that comes from a regular surfing habit and not too many cares in the world. Once the guys leave the stage, Brian Eno’s “Summer of 69” and Michael Jackson’s ”Thriller” fills the air. The locals set aside their whisky and lurch happily to their favourite, familiar tunes. If you want a local, utterly unpretentious, fun-filled winter night, then Pakalolo is a great place to visit. It might be hard to reach, but there’s a warm welcome at the end of the winding road. Live music at Pakalolo on Fridays from 8pm (rock), and Sundays from 6pm (chill-out/jazz). Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 10 Main Road, Hout Bay, next to Chapman’s Peak Drive, 021 7900 700, www.pakalolo.co.za