Belfast Telegraph

Say Viva! to the return of my partying days

By Frances Burscough

It's official. I'm a party animal. Well, this week I was, briefly, having been invited to two parties on consecutive nights, going to them both and suffering the consequences for days afterwards ... which leads me to the conclusion that I'm not really cut out to be a party animal after all. Besides, I did feel like a bit of a fraud at each of them anyway.


The first was courtesy of Thompson's Garage, the legendary Belfast underground nightclub that's been open for donkey's years and is still going strong. The last time I'd been in Thompsons was about 15 years ago and even then, in my mid-thirties, I'd felt like an anachronistic old-timer dancing alongside so many energetic youngsters.

So naturally, to go along to one of their events now that I'm in my late (very, very late) forties was only going to make me feel (and look) like someone's embarrassing auntie who'd got lost on her way to the bingo.

Ok, I do still love my dance music and I can still, er, “cut the rug” like the best of 'em, but it's the principal of the thing. Forty-niners like me just don't go clubbing do they? It's just wrong.

But this was slightly different. Instead of downstairs in a smoky subterranean den of iniquity, this was being held onboard a boat, sailing into the Lagan sunset in that glorious summer weather of last week. The temptation was just too great.

So there I was, boogying my butt off to the hippest hip-hop tunes of the last two decades courtesy of resident Funkarama DJs Hix, Jon-Boi and Duke, in full public view of the entire Belfast Harbour Estate and its environs ... as well as a boat-load of the beautiful people, all young enough to be my children, if not indeed my grandchildren.

Great craic, but I felt like I needed a hip replacement the next day.

At the second event in my brief foray as a socialite, I felt like a possible imposter for another reason.

“Cafe Havana invites you to a fiesta in honour of the 60th Anniversary of the Cuban Revolution!” the invitation read.

Now, I have to admit that not only did I not know there was a place called Cafe Havana in Belfast; I didn't know a single thing about the revolution either. I'd never visited Cuba and, apart from having the obligatory Che Guevara poster on my wall as a student (as did everyone else) and an occasional Havana cigar on special occasions, the only thing I knew for certain about the place was what I could recall from the movies Scarface and The Godfather. So you could hardly call me an aficionado.

But then the phrase ‘Free Mojito’ caught my attention and all of a sudden I really did feel like celebrating. It would have been rude not to! It also conveniently gave me an excuse to wear the embroidered bolero I'd bought in Spain and those Cuban heels from TK Maxx I'd never had the occasion to wear. I'll blend in nicely with all the Cuban folk there, I thought.

As I got ready, I just hoped I wouldn't get asked about my views on the Revolución ... basically, because I didn't have any and I didn't really have time to Google it either.

I needn't have worried. Although the restaurant itself is exactly how you would imagine an authentic Latino eaterie might be — with bold and vibrant murals on the wall, lively salsa music playing and a menu including lots of exotic Carribbean, Spanish and Mexican influences — the staff I met were all locals from Belfast and not far beyond. What a relief!

Now, I may not have been very clued up about certain historical and cultural matters but there was one thing I quickly became an expert in: drinking Mojitos. Lot's of 'em. I didn't know what I'd been missing, all these years of the same old boring and decidedly unexotic white wine spritzers with soda down the pub.

It really was love at first sip.

Heck, that Cuban Revolution is something I'm going to enjoy celebrating every weekend from now on! Viva los Mojitos! Viva Cafe Havana! Viva la Revolución!

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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