The Jazz Hands Behind the CJC
Going strong for well over a decade, the Cairo Jazz Club is a veritable Egyptian institution. From the well bred to the well bearded it’s always been the place to go, to guarantee yourself a monkey-dancing good time...
We had this idea of asking Alex the owner to come in for an interview for our Egyptian Entrepreneurs segment, but when we spoke to him he said the strangest thing, “The real power behind this venue is not me. It’s the team. They are responsible for our success so if you’re going to interview anyone, interview them.” At first we were really confused because if doing business in Egypt has taught us anything it is that owners ought to always take all the credit for themselves while simultaneously suffocating their staff’s dreams and desires. Nevertheless, bewildered and befuddled, we invited over the the CJC’s real trifecta of success: TAIMOUR HOSNI - the cheery burly German venue manager who’s probably told you “couples only” one too many times, NARIMAN EL BAKRY their funky, feisty and funny marketing exec and the brilliant big boss lady marketing manager SARA REDY to discuss blacklists, stripping at the door, their new venue and those damned CJC bathrooms…
Have you ever thought about changing the logo so it doesn’t look like Cairo Lazz Club?
S: It’s an artistic J.
N: We all write our J’s like that.
So CJC has created this fantastically successful formula - eclectic music, live bands, cool DJs, no two nights the same. It has always bewildered us why other clubs haven’t simply emulated you and jumped on the bandwagon of your awesomeness. What is that about?
N: Other clubs target more of a commercial scene while we like to keep it a little more indie. We simply try to cater to everyone and do our best to be unbiased.
What’s the most annoying thing that happens on any given night?
T: Last Monday was a big disaster… the police came and they checked the bottles.
S: Usually they just come in a group of four and you wouldn’t notice but this time they came in with an army.
T: Thankfully they didn’t find anything. We’re a clean club.
And what’s the most bizarre thing that’s ever happened on your watch?
N: Someone took their pants off at the Halloween party. He claimed it was because he didn’t have a costume and was improvising. So the bouncer asked what his costume was and he said, “I’m a naked man.” The bouncer pointed out that he wasn’t exactly naked, he just didn’t have a shirt on. So he whipped his pants off.
How do you deal with trouble makers?
T: They get blacklisted pending further investigation. Once we get to the bottom of exactly what’s happened, we decide whether to let them back or ban them for life.
So what’s the criteria to be blacklisted for life? How bad does it have to be?
T: If you smash a glass on someone’s face.
What if we took a glass, went to the bathroom and urinated into it then poured it over the DJ’s equipment because we don’t like the music. Would that get us blacklisted?
T: Yes, definitely.
What’s your favourite memory from the CJC?
N: I would have to say a few weeks ago it was the Cadillacs and Glass Onion.
S: Sooper Lox and Ouzo.
T: I enjoy every day.
Aww but you must get tired of the noise and the people and the partying every single night Taimour?
T: No I don’t actually, you can’t be happy every day but it’s part of the job.
Do you feel like people personally hate you when you bounce them?
T: Look I know how to talk to people and if you know how to talk they won’t be that pissed off. Bouncing is 90% talking. It’s not about picking a fight or kicking them out.
Do you go out to different places?
T: Of course, I go to other venues.
Do you feel like a traitor?
T: For Nariman and Sara it’s different because they are in the office and I’m always in the club as the face of the club. So if i go to another venue it’s like, “What are you doing here?” The most difficult thing about going to other venues is meeting people that you’ve blacklisted. Like last time I went to Audio Damiana. I got in at five am and everyone was drunk and I stayed exactly 15 minutes and I had six discussions about the door at the Jazz Club.
So you guys have alot of international artists come in. What are their impressions after they play?
N: They say it’s the best they’ve ever had.
T: They love the venue.
Who was your favourite international performer?
S: During Artbeat there was D’Callos, a Spanish band, the singer had a beautiful voice.
CJC seems like the best place to be for up and coming artists to play in Egypt so how do you decide who will play?
S: We listen to demos and if it’s not too progressive we’ll book for a night and see how the crowd reacts…
S: Usually I get sent the DJs.
Have you ever been too drunk to do your job?
T: Look I’m there to do business!
S: Haha, I’ve got pictures!
T: Look I’m working in this business for eight years so when I know I’m getting really drunk I can tell a half hour before. So I usually just finish what needs to be done. But we had a shot tasting once with 18 shots and we started at 9:00 p.m. and finished at 11:00 p.m. and I was so drunk I told Alex (the owner) that I’m too drunk to work and he said, “That’s very good just do whatever you want!.”
If you could have anyone in the world perform at CJC who would it be?
N: I don’t know. The kind of music I’m into wouldn’t fit the CJC. I’m into triphop, maybe Portishead.
T: Definitely not David Guetta. I don’t know, how about David Hasslehoff. Yes, David Hasslehoff!
N: Who would you like to see?
David Hasslehoff. Out of the Egyptian DJs who gets the crowd going the most?
T: DJ Ramy. He plays for the crowd and not for himself…
So we hear you have a new venue opening…
S: Yes, very soon. It’s in Dokki and it’s called Alchemy. It’s a bar/lounge. No live music, just a nice place to come have a chilled dinner and nice drinks.
T: And then you finish and come to CJC! The food is amazing though.
When is the official opening?
S: This month.
Are you worried about politics affecting business?
T: They may try and raise the tax on alcohol or the police could get more controlling.
Sometimes the CJC gets so packed you can barely move. Why is that? Could it possibly be because MO4 does your digital marketing?
N: Yes. Thank you MO4.
You’re welcome CJC.
T: Don’t forget we have a lot of regular customers and we can’t tell them that we’re too full if they come later than the others.
What’s your favorite thing about CJC?
N: I respect the integrity behind it, it’s not easy to support the independent music scene particularly because there’s not much support from the crowds..
Are there any bands whose careers you’d say the CJC has launched?
All: Yes, absolutely!
S: Wust El Balad, Cairokee…
N: We’ll go the extra mile to give people that push.
Okay final question, when do you plan on replacing those death doors in the bathroom and finally getting more bathrooms!
S: Next year, I’m trying to do a petition haha.