By Marley and Vanessa

The Ziggies night club made it’s footprints in many people’s lives back in the late ’80s till the late ’90s. Their reunion will be held on 7 October 2016 at The Pub in Nelspruit. We asked some old Ziggie jollers to share some of their memories with us. One such person is Vanessa Massyn, one of our regular readers. Vanessa is a sparkling personality that can tell you a story like no other girl can. Here are her memories of this famous place – Marley.

I started going to Ziggies when I was way too young. It was back in the day when we used our older sister’s ID book to gain entrance. Back in the day when SANAB (South African Narcotics and Alcohol Bureau) used to frequent pubs and nightclubs on the prowl for underage drinkers. This was 1993.

Ziggies used to be located downtown near the old Pick ‘n Pay Centre in Nelspruit. The club itself was situated underneath a pool hall/games arena and during the day, you were none the wiser when driving past. The windows were painted black and the entrance was guarded by a gate under lock and key. At night though, this dodgy dungeon came alive. I vaguely recall the cover charge being around R 5-00, and R 15-00 when a band from out of town was playing – and when I say “band”, I am talking about the likes of Squeal and Wonderboom. Occasionally, we had Lloyd himself doing his thing with his electric guitar and curly mullet on the stage.

And if not any of these, Wikus Malan was the resident DJ and it being the mid-nineties, we bead-banged and moshed our way across the dance floor to the beats of Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Blur, Dr Alban, Metallica, Oasis, Sister of Mercy, The Cure, Madness and the like. It was the grunge era and it was in full swing. Ziggies gave Nelspruit youngsters a taste of the world out there before the sanctions were lifted in 1994 following the referendum.

Archers Peach Schnapps - photo Google
Peach schnapps – I can smell this picture

As dodgy as Ziggies was, it was the only hangout where we could dance, drink shooters, play pool and of course, catch up with our friends. The place even sported a take-away situated right at the back of the club next to the bar. It almost seemed as though Lloyd wanted us to line our tummies before indulging in some serious Friday night drinking. Lloyd actually cared about us.

If there was one thing you could be certain of when you decided to spend a night at Ziggies, it was that you would be met by Lloyd – the man himself – either at the entrance chatting away to Susan who militantly guarded the cash box and ID checks, or at the bar, and if you were a frequent visitor like I was, you would have to enjoy an Archer’s Schnapps with Lloyd. And not just one. And they were always on the house. Much later on at night, the toilets would wreak of peach vomit which gave testament to the amount of Schnapps Lloyd would “make” us consume on an average Friday night. Did we ever turn down a Schnapps? Hell no!

In retrospect, I cannot recall any fights within the club. Ever. I recall foam parties (and I suspect this was the only time the dance floor got a proper cleaning). I recall the dreaded and infamous birthday drink (if it was your birthday, Gary the Barman would pour a hi-ball glass full of tequila, Stroh rum, vodka with a dash of Sprite). You would have to go on stage, down it in front of the crowd, manage to get off the stage and run to the toilet where all the alcohol would go to waste in the town’s sewerage systems while a massive encore was happening on the dance floor. Never a dull moment.

There were other regulars, not just me. There was an old deaf man that used to pop in late at night and just stand at the bar with his hand on the counter. The vibration of the bass on the counter helped him to enjoy the music with us. We also met the Ziggie’s Mr Bean: a youngish guy in his late 20’s who got so drunk, people used to pile up cans of Black Label on top of his head while he was passed out. He never spoke to any of us and he had an uncanny resemblance to Rowan Atkinson, hence the name: Mr Bean.

Lloyd aptly arranged an Archer’s Schnapps promotion at Ziggies one night. Massive giveaways of T-shirts, bottles of booze, keyrings and other promotional items. Back in those days, if it was for mahala, we’ll do anything to get it. The girls were invited to do some form of face paint and compete with one another for a T-shirt. I went into the bathroom and painted the Rolling Stones Lips over my belly button, then proceeded to paint the rest of the face over my entire top torso – the eyes being my boobs. Needless to say, I walked away with the T-shirt as well as 2 bottles of booze. I was a very happy 19-year old that night.

Ziggy Stardust - photo Pinterest

Many of us were not aware at the time that the name for the club was derived from Ziggy Stardust – the character incarnation of David Bowie who featured on several of his albums. Just goes to show the culture that Lloyd tried to incorporate into our small town visions and perspectives. Ziggies allowed us to explore newfound freedom after having lived and grown up with sanctions governed under the apartheid regime. We were able to dance to “Sweet Transvestite” from the Rocky Horror Picture Show (banned in SA during apartheid). We all crooned along to “Sugarman” by Rodriguez (banned in SA during apartheid). And we ALWAYS, and I mean ALWAYS stayed until the very end. When the lights came on and we were given a goodnight Schnapps while being ushered out by Prince’s “Purple Rain”.

“…and these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds are immune to your consultations. They’re quite aware of what they’re going through…”

David Bowie.

RIP Lloyd Loram. Thank you for giving us Ziggies.

Marley is the founder and owner of Small Town Music. Born and bred in Nelspruit aka Nelsparta. Marley loves music (rock being a firm favourite), tattoos, festivals, animals and South Africa. Self-taught photographer and writer.