It started with food. In 2001, Madame Zingara was a stationary restaurant celebrating everything gypsy. But this kind of normality is long forgotten. Today, Madame Zingara is known as The Theatre of Dreams, travelling all over the country and bringing the circus to the dining table – without the creepy clowns and tortured elephants, of course.
The Madame didn’t stop there though. She went on to open four unique yet very entertaining restaurants, one (I Love My Hood) campaign, one performance event company and even a launderette. And now, the latest edition to the Madama Zingara family: A party shop.
As you would expect, this shop is not like any other. Named, This Is Not A Post Office, the only fairly average object you’ll find here is the giant red post box outside on the pavement. Entering this maze will banish any remembrance of a street though. A narrow path leads you through the overwhelming collection of party equipment, twisting and turning through decor to the likes of giant lollipops and rubber ducks hanging from the roof in fishbowls. Flashing lights and smoke only help to make this space anything but an ordinary retail store.
If you look hard enough your average balloons and streamers are there, but they’re completely hidden between disco balls, glittering skull shaped telephones, blow up creatures, and probably the most impressive range of wigs, masks, hats, jewellery and costumes in the city. The more extravagant the party you’re invited to, the better to shop here. You’ll leave fully equipped, to say the least.
And if the flamboyant is not your scene, it’s still worth an investigation. The overwhelmingness has to be experienced. I mean, you even have to crawl through a tiny door and a discotheque tunnel at one stage to reach all the crazy objects hanging, flaunting and parading around on the other side.
This Is Not A Post Office is at 114 Kloof, rather far up and further fueling the Madame’s takeover of Upper Kloof Street. Just a block down there is Cafe Paradiso. Unlike most Kloof Street eateries, it looks more like an enchanted garden than a restaurant with ribbons hanging from the trees and a friendly green gate to welcome you inside. The relaxed, sunny afternoon atmosphere makes for a good contrast between these two Zingara-enterprises and guests are welcomed to relax in the wine room or watch the pasta being made in the pasta room.
Further up Kloof Street, Madame Zingara gets yet another side to her personality at the Bombay Bicycle Club. This time, Bohemian. It’s labeled ‘The oldest gentlemans club in the world’, but don’t let the name fool you. The decor includes Buddha dolls, leaves winding up the rickety staircase and even a bed hanging from the roof supporting a shiny tiger. Also, lots more hats just lying around. So grab them and wear them to make the dinner even more fun. This is quite a popular place though, so book ahead, especially if you’re keen on sitting at the table with swings instead of chairs.
To experience the greatest amount of the Madame’s out of concert magic with the least amount of trouble, wander up Kloof Street. This Zingara-dense spot will start to give you an idea why she is back after touring the country for an entire year to do another series of shows in Cape Town. For more information on the shows and this unique family, visit the website.