Bank on a good time at Mofunk
THE 151st Mofunk party takes place at The Bank in Queen Victoria Street tonight, and that is an impressive achievement in the Cape Town club scene. These hugely popular events have been happening since 1998 so I had a few questions for founder Mr Mo.
Eighteen years and 151 events is quite something. To what to you attribute the longevity and success of Mofunk?
To keep it fresh, one has to spread out the events, so it’s something you want to go to as it does not happen very often. Secondly, the venue has to be right, it needs certain panache. I think we have achieved that with The Bank. It’s a huge venue with so much history, and exudes sophistication.
We also change the DJ line-up with someone fresh so we get a new take on the disco, funk and soul that is played.
As the founder, how did it all begin for you?
It all began with a conversation at 169 On Long with the owner Peter Marks in 1998. He is originally from Amsterdam and he was reminiscing about the disco and funk parties that he attended. He asked me to do the event, and as I was an avid funk and disco fan, I jumped at the chance of hosting it. The first one was called An Evening of Motown and Funk, and I think we had about 28 people there . The event took off and later we had over 3 000 people in one night. The rest, as they say, is history.
What are some of your favourite Mofunk highlights?
Definitely the ones at the original 169 On Long. It felt like a family affair. The parties also continued until past 6am sometimes, and those were the ones that go down in history.
Other highlights include Mofunk in Dubai at the Atlantis Hotel on the beach. We had 6 000 people losing their minds under the Arabian night sky.
How has Mofunk evolved over the years?
In the beginning we went large on décor and themes only to realise that when patrons hit the disco inferno, they are having so much fun that they miss it completely. Venues have played a big role as well; it is paramount to the look and feel of Mofunk.
What will this one be like compared to the early years? At the beginning we only played on vinyl, because the DJ technology had not come about yet. It’s only when the CDJs appeared in 2000 that we started using the first CDJ100 with vinyl. When this happened, it was easier to get remixes of anything you wanted.
In the earlier years patrons used to dress up more to a disco theme, but now they are a little more casual, which is great because these people come to dance, and enjoy the general vibe. It’s quite a mixed crowd of people from all walks of life, which is the point of Mofunk – to bring people together.
The music we play promotes that ethos. It’s music to dance to, it’s music to sing to, it’s the soundtrack to what has been before and the soundtrack to what’s to come.
What do you bring to the event as a DJ, and what do you love about Mofunk?
I can read the crowd fairly easily after DJing for 18 years. The odd thing is, I became a DJ just in case one of the DJs did not make it, or was late or sick. The interesting thing is funk as a genre. It’s the music that was the forerunner of disco, and funk also influenced hip hop on a massive scale. The roots of dance are in funk. What I love is that you get to expose those roots, even though they’re almost 50 years old. It’s interesting when you can play the original and everybody thinks you are playing the latest hit single, but then listen to the original and put two and two together. Mofunk for me embodies the history of dance culture through the years.”
Since its inception Mofunk has drawn more than 730 000 punters to parties in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. It pays homage to the original artists that shaped what music is today – Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, The Spinners, The Whispers, Diana Ross, Teddy Pendergrass and James Brown.
Tonight’s roster includes opener Benny Wong, Nick Birkby – the original stick shift DJ who made venues like The Magnet such landmarks in this city’s musical history, and dance floor-filler The Boogieman. Completing the circle is Mr Mo himself, the founder of the Mofunk brand.The venue is one of the last grand Art Deco buildings in South Africa. A space once occupied by tellers, it has a 160m2 hall with a domed ceiling, arched windows, solid teak doors, wood panelling, and white stucco plastered walls – a suitably impressive place for this momentous occasion.
151st Mofunk is from 10pm till 3am at The Bank, 54 Queen Victoria Road, Cape Town. Cover charge is R100.