Why?Not Club Zanzibar – A little slice of heaven

    image @rosascipion.photo

    Having been lucky enough to recently visit the absolutely stunning Tanzanian island of Zanzibar, it is clear to see what draws holiday makers and hedonistic dancers to the raw beauty of this tropical destination. The deep blue sea meets pristine golden, sandy beaches, swaying palm trees, and with Africa in general enjoying some of the world’s most hospitable locations, every day seems like a dream. The team behind Why?Not Club have certainly chosen the site of their venue extremely well.

    With Why?Not now being a recognised stop off for music lovers the world over, it is important to understand where the roots of the project come from and its fundamental elements. From the moment that we arrived in Paje, the area of Zanzibar that houses The Jambo Beach Hotel and Why?Not Club, the sense of community and inclusivity is almost tangible. This is no chance occurrence. From the centrally located swimming pool and accompanying pool bar to the beach side chalets that encircle the pool, there is a distinct sense of community to be found at this resort. This is something that Why? Not are very keen to distill into each of their finely curated events and with their guests both behind the decks and in front. 

    Even with all these organically stunning elements in place there is still no guarantee of success and with each passing event there are lessons to be learnt and the team have had more than a few parties. To get a better understanding of the project and its beginnings as  I sat down with the co-founder and one of the driving forces of Why?Not – Marlon Schäder, “The first season was not easy in terms of creating a name for ourselves and gaining the trust of our community. Also financially, it wasn’t easy to manage to survive the first 12 months, but we knew this from the beginning and it’s also part of the process and we believe the path is the goal. Our program gained a lot more consistency in the second season, meaning us being able to bring International acts and concepts/promoters every week but we always have in mind our local artists who supported us so much in the first season.”

    image @rosascipion.photo – Trommel Party w/ Melina, Jakob Seidensticker, and Todd

    Taking stock of our own party and countless others, the warm vibe enjoyed around the resort starts inside the club and immediately radiates outwards. From the staff that treat the club and care for it as if it were their own, to the operations team, and resident DJ’s to a man, the team moves and acts as one. Throughout our main event that ran from just before midnight until well into the blistering sunshine of the morning, every track was welcomed with broad smiles, cheers, or simply a responding dance. Every element and person had their own special part to play in the success of the night, such is the nature of this special club. This also cascaded effortlessly into the DJ booth where a similarly warm scene was unfolding. With each artist each being given the opportunity to showcase their individual sounds it would seem We R The Aliens founders Jakob Seidensticker, Melina, and Trommel resident Todd would then go on to share the decks together for many hours. Much to the delight of the dancefloor that didn’t seem to want to leave the club.

    If you spend any amount of time on the island then you will not be able to escape the clear Afro roots that the many walks of local life presents. In the taxis, in the restaurants, the bars, in the many beach front stores, Afro music is the preferred flavour of sound across the island. So, with the prospect of a purely electronic and decidedly underground musical program being curated at Why?Not, it was interesting to see the positive embrace the venue has received from the community, “Locals actually love coming to dance to Why?Not and are a big part of our dance floor.”

    With the club now getting on towards the business end of their second season now was as good a time as ever to take a temperature of their progress and what was still to come, “Things have been very good down here and beyond expectations. Celebrating our one year anniversary with Tristan da Cunha marking the second season, having projects like Wareika, Trommel, Repeers, Sunny Side up, Fantome de nuit…” With roots firmly in the Euro scene, there is more heat on its way to Paje, “We are looking forward to the rest of the season with Jazzy from Madrid with great artists we also call friends from Ibiza and all the region of Spain. Then of course the power house Slapfunk joining us now beginning of February and collaborating with Butik and Light House Festival will be the perfect end before our grand closing week.”

    image @lookattodd

    The team is a permanent fixture on the island and so over the course of nearly two seasons there has already been changes to the club, explains Marlon, “Notable changes have been done inside the club like lighting and sounds have improved. As we like to say we created a white canvas last year that we are now starting to paint and colour bit by bit together with all the creatives all over the world. For example we have a famous painter from Italy Joys that will paint our venue from the outside next week. Also in terms of operation, we had big improvements, we have a great team working all together and it’s a notable change for the experience of our customers.” Marlon continues to explain that it is not all plain sailing, especially when it comes to island life, “There are always small challenges like electricity problems that are out of our control, but we always manage to face them and learn to be prepared for the unexpected. It’s part of the process.” As you might expect from such a close knit team these adversities were overcome with a combination of, “Dedication, consistency, teamwork and love to the music.”

    During our time at the Jambo Beach Hotel and Paje in general, we couldn’t help but be struck by the raw beauty of the area. Having visited many corners of the world, Zanzibar definitely is a path less traveled. Tourism is still in its infancy here, but this does not seem to phase the local communities one bit. Everybody we met was warm, welcoming and very keen to learn more about where their new friend has traveled from. With the island recently emerging from United Kingdom “ownership” in the late 60’s, the now independent island off the coast of Tanzania is beginning to benefit from holiday makers looking for a tropical getaway. This is of course great to hear as long as it is not at the detriment to the way of life and conservation of the island and its people. 

    image @jenniferannetodd

    This is of course something that the Why? Not team are extremely mindful of and as well as bringing a venue source to the community they also have a number of initiatives to help do their part, “We encourage everyone who comes down here to bring clothes and colouring books, pencils etc…We have a local project where we help local schools and our team went to paint a school together with the kids.” With a focus being on the next generation of Zanzibaris, great strides are being made by the team to ensure that there is support for the children and that their education is paramount, “We also have a project we are working on that you can support a child with a yearly fee to support him/her at school (uniform, books, etc). We will reveal this soon so people can also take action. We are planning to give music classes to local kids, for example Tristan da Cunha sponsored us a drum machine for kids to play around and gain interest in electronic music. This also extends to us gathering funds to build a skatepark free for the community

    Arriving in Paje and the beach is of course the focal point of the area and rightly so. The unspoilt stretch of sand and sea is like a movie that travels as far as the eye can see in both directions, but there is more to this sea than just somewhere to cool off when the heat invariably gets too much. Zanzibar has a thriving marine ecosystem and this lends itself extremely well to the age-old local fishing rights as does a newer and flourishing export which is algaculture. At low tide you can see where the seaweed crops have culminated, and while other parts of Zanzibar are far more active in this respect this is a growing industry that should also be protected from the inherent side effects of human beings. With Why? Not almost being part of the sea, it is paramount that the club should not impact the sea at all, “To do this we use biodegradable cups in our club, so even if ending up in the ocean they won’t harm the environment one bit.” This comment regarding being a part of the sea is not an exaggeration as a lot of work has gone into waterproofing the club, as during high tide the waves dramatically crash high up against the windows of the club making for a very theatrical addition to the party that we were delighted to be a part of during our own event.

    image @rosascipion.photo Samuel Deep, Reiss, & Doudou MD – S1 Opening Party

    With a project of this size and given the already huge strides they have made in developing a rather special haven for music conversion soon turned to brand development and off season plans, “To continue to paint that canvas year by year and focus on the club culture not only in Zanzibar but also in east Africa and worldwide. Why?not never sleeps so we are planning many showcases starting with Malta at the Sunny Side Festival together with After Caposile. We will also be revealing other showcases soon around Spain, Portugal, Germany, Netherlands etc… so watch this space!”

    With the run of parties that has included an extended stay from the SlapFunk crew and the combined event from Why?Not, Butik Festival, and Lighthouse Festival there just remains the all important culmination of their season with a two part marathon. Beginning on Tuesday, March 5th Argentinian artist Desiree Falessi will take her place at the island’s hottest spot for a two date stint at Why?Not. Joining her at the first date will be residents Ramez and Michka and then on the final date (07.03.24) she will be joined by Max Hackauff and a yet to be announced cast of artists. If you haven’t already booked your flights then we suggest you should make a move.

    More info on Why?Not Club Zanzibar

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