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#21DaysofTrends: Cape Town's Wonderland Ushers In The Return To Great South African Nightclubs

Wonderland nightclub in the City Bowl takes us back to the glamour of the nightclub era with fabulous pattern, neon lights and an epic historical building.

Greg Cox

Wonderland, Cape Town | House and Leisure

A former synagogue has become Wonderland, one of Cape Town’s most luxurious and cutting-edge nightclubs – a hedonistic explosion of colour, neon lights and plush fabrics. The perfectly named club in the City Bowl embodies House and Leisure's prediction that the coming years will see some interiors return to an opulent disco aesthetic. (As, meanwhile, other spaces will make a turn toward a pure and monastic feeling.)

Wonderland, Cape Town | House and Leisure

Wonderland designer Andrea Graff's portfolio of work spans the world and incorporates both residential and commercial projects. Graff explained that when hospitality guru Johnny Papadakis (who is also responsible for Cape Town institutions such as Love Thy Neighbour) approached her for some ideas for his new project, together they envisioned a space that was a sanctuary for ‘total escapism’ – and a return to the nightclubs of their youths. ‘I wanted Wonderland to be a space where everyone who walks in feels totally fabulous… and of course, a club that they would want to come back to again and again,’ Graff says. 

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Wonderland, Cape Town | House and Leisure
Wonderland designer Andrea Graff with hospitality guru Johnny Papadakis.


The synagogue’s original features inspired much of the conceptualisation of the space itself, and inspired Papadakis and Graff to restore many of the original features. Hard work went into projects like the restoration of 1950s wooden panelling: once restored to its former glory, it was removed from the walls, backed with soundproofing material, and then reapplied. Other elements – such as the suspended wooden floor and mezzanine floors overlooking the central dance space – have created what Graff describes as the sort of ‘old-school, proper nightclub’ that Cape Town was once famous for. 

Wonderland, Cape Town | House and LeisureWonderland, Cape Town | House and Leisure

‘I’ve loved watching everyone dress up in their most glam looks, and creating a place for people who appreciate a space where they can be themselves. It’s incredible to look down from the upper levels as the city dances to some of the best music in the country,’ Graff says.   

Cape Town’s club crowd has embraced the space, with disco and electronic parties over the weekends drawing massive crowds of locals. Wonderland is a tribute to the fun, frivolity and fantasy of the nightclub, and we are hoping to see more of these spaces opening across the country — let the party live!

For more about Wonderland, follow them on Instagram.

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