Icy Refreshment for South Africa’s Summer

While many South African’s are donning their swimming costumes and heading off to the beach, a number of people in Cape Town are swapping their beach gear for warm winter jackets and thick leggings. These people are heading off to South Africa’s very first Ice Lounge – a complete novelty in a country that receives little snowfall and plenty of hot, sunny weather.

The Ice Lounge was been made out of sixty tonnes of frozen water which was shipped to the country from Canada. It was been set up in a giant freezer room at the V&A Waterfront complex and creators claim it is the largest saloon of its kind to ever be built.

The three-million-rand (400 000 US dollars) project has only just opened its doors to the public and is the ideal way for people to escape the heat. It is very much a novelty and has drawn visitors from across the country that is curious about the lounge’s icy interiors. During the day, Cape Town’s Ice Lounge serves as a family destination complete with an icy slide in the form of a whale which children can play on. At night, the children make way for the adults as the lounge turns into a vibrant nightclub. The Ice Lounge took roughly 150 people a period of three months to build. It was masterminded by James Cussen who co-owner of a local company called Thor Ice which creates ice sculptures.

The building measures 200 square meters in size and can accommodate as many as 150 people at any one time. It seats about 30 but few stay longer than half an hour as many South African’s simply are not used to the –5 to –10 degree temperatures. Inside the Ice Lounge, everything is made of ice and special low-heat lights have been used to reduce melting. Visitors are fascinated by the bar stools, shelves, bar counter, couches and tables as well as cocktail and shot glasses and decorations which are all made of ice. A frozen portrait of Nelson Mandela made from snow and coloured gelatine hands on one wall while beautiful sculptures can be seen everywhere in the lounge.

Visitors are given a polar-fleeced, hooded poncho, gloves and boots when they pay their entry fee which keeps them warm for about 45 minutes. Drinks are generally served chilled and warm ‘bar snacks’ can be consumed shortly after being set out. If all goes well, the lounge will stay open until about April and then will be dismantled and allowed to melt. It is hoped that the Ice Lounge in Cape Town will be come an annual feature which will introduce thousands to the beauty of ice carving. So come to South Africa’s Ice Lounge, take a seat and have something to drink. Just don’t like the walls or your stay may end up taking a little longer than you had planned.