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Africa’s renewal


Tommy’s maintains the feel but improves the essentials

By Kara-Leah Grant

It’s been a long 10 days for the bar rats, but last night for Halloween, Tommy Africa’s finally unveiled its new look.

There’s a new lighting system and a new audio-visual system. The DJ booth has been ripped down and a brand new plexi-glass booth sits in between the go-go podiums, front and centre of the dance floor. (There’s even a bench behind the booth for all the groupies to hang out on.)

Serious cash has gone into a new sound system, including a permanent four-turntable set-up. The old coat-check has moved to the old front entrance and in its place is a funky alcove and cushy seating.

Gone are the bamboo walls and most of the tiki lounge decor, with the exception of the area around the washrooms, the beer pit and the coconuts by the pool tables. And the entrance is now beside Affinity Sports, putting the bar right in the visitor eye.

Welcome to the new Tommy Africa’s, completely re-done, revitalized and revamped.

"It’s been a massive undertaking," said Alastair Gregor, general manager. "This is the biggest change the club has seen since it opened in 1987."

The changes, prompted by a desire to keep Tommy’s at the cutting edge of nightclub entertainment, streamline the décor of the bar and up-grade its look while retaining the flavour of the tiki lounge.

"We wanted to dress the club up a little because the younger crowd is more sophisticated than they used to be. So we’ve got new granite bar tops and new granite tables," said Gregor.

"People are more high tech now and they know what is cool and looks great in dance clubs. We want to keep our young crowd but as they mature we want to continue to appeal to them. So now the bar has the sophistication to cover the full spectrum."

Lorne Brownmiller, co-owner of Tommy’s with Warren Gabriel, has headed up the renovations.

"The renovations are all about improving the sound, the lighting and the DJ booth," said Brownmiller. "Entertainment in clubs is so much better than a few years ago. DJs are specialists and they need a platform to show what they can do. We’ve provided them with that platform."

Gregor concurs.

"Before we’d have great DJs come in and they couldn’t see the crowd and the crowd couldn’t see them. Now the DJ can see the whole breadth and width of the club and there is total interaction between the dancers in the bar and the DJ. This is the best place to dance period in Whistler."