In the past few years Egypt has had an enormous evolution in its artistic culture and we’ve had the chance to see a lot of underground musicians, poets, live show performers and movie makers, and since everyone starts small and not every stage is willing to accept underground artists, they need places that would accept to host them, they need a space for their undiscovered talents to appear for everyone, they need art spaces.
Art spaces are culture hubs (mostly apartments or big basements) that are open for people with talents to show themselves and El Sawy Culturewheel is not the only place for that in Cairo. While the wheel may be one of the biggest and most famous places comparing to other art spaces, some other places are really worth visiting whether you want to perform, want to attend an event, or just want a nice place to relax in instead of all the noisy and expensive cafes. We went to some of those art spaces and we wish for more people to know about them.
ROOM is an art space located in Garden City which has hosted a large number of amazing musicians since it first started. It’s not so hard to find but I wouldn’t really call it easy but if you have a GPS you should be fine. ROOM was famous in the past few weeks for its statement that they’re going bankrupt and they need the people’s support to continue and luckily they had that kind of support from both the audience and the performers. The staff inside are very friendly and it’s very well decorated. Inside you’ll find an American kitchen with a large variety of choices in the menu but a lot of them weren’t available the time we went there. The place is big compared to other art spaces, but one of its biggest pros is that smoking isn’t allowed inside which is a huge point for them considering that most art spaces allow smoking.
3elbت alwaن (Elbet Alwan) is an art space based in one of Zamalek’s nicest locations. The place is so easy to find that you can almost never lose your way. 3elbت alwaن is actually not new at all, it started in 2005 so they’ve been in the business for a long time. The place is relatively small in size but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun inside. The decoration inside is very underground-ish especially for all the portraits hanging everywhere and it’s really cozy inside. A help yourself kitchen is available inside where a free hot drink is included in concerts/events tickets but I don’t know how much it costs in regular days. They also have a nice collection of books that you can borrow to read inside. 3elbت alwaن is also an art gallery, a studio, a workshops center and they host birthday parties so you can almost do everything there.
I’d say this is one of the biggest art spaces in Cairo. Darb 1718 has been one of the most effective places in hosting different kinds of events. Concerts, independent movie screenings, African festivals and workshops. Whatever you want, you’ll find it there. If you’re a fan of music, art, cinema, sculpting or culture mixing, then this place has to be on your places-to-go list. As big and amazing as it is, it’s not really the easiest place to find so I would recommend going with someone who’s been there before if it’s your first time there, if you can’t find anyone just use the metro and then keep asking and you’ll get there eventually but do not go by your car. You’ve been warned.
One of my favorite art spaces that I have visited so far is Bab 18. Bab 18 is a small art space near El Korba and to be honest, they’ve done a really good job hiding their headquarters. I had a really bad time trying to find it especially that my GPS wasn’t working the first time I went there but if you have better luck than I did and your phone works fine, you should find it easily. Bab 18 might not be the biggest art space in Cairo, but it certainly hosts some really cool concerts. They also provide you with working space in case you want to study or finish some work there. Also if you have a band and need a place to jam or do some rehearsals before your next gig you can do it there. You can also find some nice workshops in there so if you want to learn the guitar, piano, percussion or even graphic design, you can find what you’re looking for there.
Balcon means simplicity, really it is one of the simplest art spaces I have ever been to. What makes Balcon special is its location having most of the art spaces on the other side of Cairo, so an art space in Heliopolis can be a good thing. It can be a really cool place to chill especially if you don’t like much noise and wish to meet your friends in a quite cozy place, which can also be very useful if you need a place to study. Although they are available for hosting concerts, I haven’t seen a concert there in a while but they do have some nice movie screenings so make sure you stay tuned if you like foreign movies.
Located in Dokki, Da House is one of the coolest art spaces you can visit. The place is really popular especially among young bands considering that it is in the same building as VIBE studio and also because its owner is May Diab, Ramy Essam’s wife. The place is really chill from inside and the stage is good sized relatively to the place. The decorations inside are really cool and they have instruments hanging on the walls everywhere so you really feel the atmosphere once you get inside. Also if you’re a performer, I bet you’ll like the microphones and the sound system inside so if your voice was bad at singing or you couldn’t rock your guitar perfectly, don’t go blaming the mics and the speakers. Da House hosts a lot of amazing underground music and poetry shows and it’s a really good place to have your birthday party in.
There are tons of other art spaces and work spaces around cairo waiting to be discovered so leave a comment telling me your favorite place.
*All pictures were taken from the facebook pages of each art space.