Monday, March 12, 2007

Khuja and things 

Yet again it's all quiet on the Western front in Smacksville - the usual tales of drinking too much, spending too much money on records and getting told off for sniggering at experimental theatre.

Had a date last week with a jolly chap - though I almost spat my sauvignon when he explained how he liked to treat his body as a temple. As we all know my body is less a temple, more a human waste disposal unit, and a severely overtaxed one at that. Bless him.

Anyway, I digress. Here's my most recent bar review for wont of anything better.

Khuja Lounge

A long time ago, in a land far, far away, after many vodkas and absolutely ghastly singing care of the dreadful Eurovision Song Contest, my so-called ‘friend’ Quentin enticed me to skateboard down a flight of stairs. I accepted the dare – and promptly broke my foot.

The whole foolish incident taught me two things – don’t accept stupid dares and be careful around stairs, especially where alcohol is involved. (And never go to parties at Quentin’s house.)

The stupid dare rule has sadly gone out the window – I am presently sporting a perm thanks to a birthday bet from another ‘friend’ – but the stairs/booze rule remains valid to this day. Which is why I’m amazed that Khuja Lounge is still alive and kicking – or rather, that its patrons are.

I once tried to count the number of stairs leading up to Khuja, but if I did manage to count them all, the total was forgotten by the end of the first round. Suffice to say there are a lot of them (solid concrete no less) and stairwell horror stories feature prominently in many of the Khuja tales I’ve heard over the past decade.

But Khuja is much, much more than its stairway from hell. I’ve spent many a wondrous eve in its sultry confines, but usually have to piece together my night after calling in for ‘just one’ on the way home. Clearly, for reviewing purposes, this would not do. Thus I reconvened the Central City Booze Bitches in order to attempt to objectively sample Khuja’s delights in sober fashion.

We safely navigated the treacherous steps to find the bar heaving. On audio duty were a collection of funkateers I recognised to be one of the various incarnations of the Opensouls, and every creature in the house was shimmying like there was no tomorrow. Booze or boogie? Such is the Khuja dilemma.

After all, if there’s one place in this town that has genuinely earned the right to call itself the soul of Auckland city, it’s Khuja. House bunnies and gurn monkeys need not apply – Khuja has been the premier location for funk, soul, hip hop, world and afrobeat since time immemorial. The DJ line-up is all class, the local band action exquisite and it regularly plays host to some of the finest international acts to venture down under.

After an extended shimmy, I finally made it to the bar, which was five deep, and foolishly requested a mojito. Bless the barman, though – instead of rolling his eyes and telling me to get real, can’t you see all these people waiting, you idiot, he ripped into the mint and started muddling. Good lad. (The next time I returned to the bar I ordered a Tiger and the entire bar breathed an audible sigh of release.)

We danced and drank the night away as you do, and before we knew it, it was 4am and lord, where did the night go. Like many late-night bars, Khuja can often get a bit lecherous towards the end of the night, when drunken punters realise they haven’t pulled and time is running out, and this can leave a bit of an icky taste in your mouth. Mind you, I should probably just go home earlier…

Before we left to try to negotiate those stairs with our beer goggles on and make it home in one piece home to a well-deserved bed, we raised a glass to Khuja – an icon of the Auckland bar scene, a true old school funk classic. We may have stumbled in, but we souled out. Long may it lounge.

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