A bit of a rave at Cairo's jazz enclave

Jonathan Spollen
3 Min Read

Cairo’s appetite for electro music continues to grow. Companies are springing up to cater to the genre, throwing flashy parties in select locations. Nightclubs fly in top DJs from around the world to entertain Egypt’s party people; and now, it seems, the Cairo Jazz Club is getting in on the act. Kind of.

Last Monday night was an experiment of sorts at the popular Mohandiseen nightspot. Renowned for its live jazz and rock performances, as well as its resident DJs, the Jazz Club dedicates its ‘Special Mondays’ to one-off events and visiting artists.

This week’s gig, Subtle Steps, gave Egyptian-American DJ Ramsi Lehner and his buddy Sherif Nakhla the opportunity to try out some of their favourite tunes on the Jazz Club’s regulars. Both graduates of theatre from the American University in Cairo, and both heavily involved in Egyptian theatre, they are eager to introduce their favorite elements from the New York clubbing scene to the growing one in Cairo.

“The New York clubs are awesome; they are what inspire us, says Nakhla. “It is music you can sit and listen to, but it’s also music you can dance to, he explains, pointing to a raucous dance floor.

The pair described it as a ‘Minimal Tech’ night, belting out a range of electronica, funk and techno tunes they had taken from their own collections. “DJs like James Holden and Damien Lazarus are the kind of guys we listened to in New York. They play mostly ‘sexy house’ and electro.

Like others involved in Cairo’s independent music scene – Phiasco Productions for example – Lehner and Nakhla hope to add to the city’s burgeoning “underground without taking it “mainstream.

“We definitely hope this music catches on, Nakhla says, “but we also hope it maintains its own following. This is sophisticated music. It is intelligent – a bit of a challenge for the ear.

Regardless of its IQ, Subtle Steps is going down well with those at the Jazz Club. Guys and girls are going wild on the dance floor, and even those seated or at the bar are nodding their heads and tapping their feet. The Club is throbbing with bass drums and techno beats.

Over the next year, Sherif will take up a Leadership Scholarship at university, “for those who want to contribute to their own culture. Judging by how positively the Jazz Club crowd have reacted to his and Lehner’s contribution to one of Cairo’s growing sub-cultures, he is off to a good start.

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