A poem for Zanzibar : the nightclub where I spent my Newport nineties youth

A poem for Zanzibar : the nightclub where I spent my Newport nineties youth

Something weird has happened the past few days. A former nightclub in Newport has burned down, taking with it the church next door.  I’m not one for sentimentality but the whole thing has made me rather sad.

On Friday night, a fire started in the building formerly known as Zanzibar. It was originally built in the 1860s as a baptist church but converted to a three story nightclub in the 1980s. It’s hard several incarnations since then, but Zanzibar seems to be the one that everyone remembers.

It was an awful thing to see unfold on social media. It’s awful for the church too. It was beautiful and has now been destroyed. My heart goes out to the congregation and the groups it helps.  The are a strong community church and it was hear warming to see them gather tomorrow to have their usual service outside. So many businesses are reaching out to offer help. I’m keeping an eye open for a fundraising page so will update this page with a link as soon as I get it. I’m not as shallow as this post would suggest, I promise.

But I was emotional too for quite a shallow reason, and not just because of the church.

As I watched the action unfold on social media, I also saw video footage taking in the club before it burned down. It has been empty for years and looked like a tornado had ripped through it. This massive three story venue with three dance clubs within it really, was full of syringes, filth and collapsing.  It looked nothing like the place I went to through the nineties.

It hit me how many years I had spent there. I was there at least once a week through my twenties. All my memories of socialising with my friends are wrapped up in this club. On watching this video and then seeing it burn, I selfishly felt sorry that this last piece of my social life as a young woman was literally ending going up in flames before my eyes. 

Of course it’s been about 15 years  since I’ve been there but in my mind I’m still 24 sometimes. I look down though and see how my body has changed, the responsibilities I have and the overwhelming burden of being a grown up which I think we all feel sometimes. 

It only seems like yesterday that I was dancing the night away there. The pace at which life moves is frightening sometimes. So I’ve felt a bit vulnerable these past few days. It’s silly I know and I’m generally okay, no need to worry or anything, but it struck me that I’m really a grown up now. 

At 43 I’m still not sure I’m ready. Can we all just stop for a bit please? ….

That goes for my son too. He’s growing up way too fast for my liking. 

So in the spirit of saying farewell to what was an awesome nightclub I thought I’d share a little ditty I penned about it.  I wrote this a few years ago now but I’m feeling a bit sad that old place has burned down. It’s not just about Zanzibar, but a little club called Rudy’s which we hung out at before then.  


There was a set routine down our town,

Observed most Saturday nights.

We started off up Baileys,

Then down town towards the lights.

First it was the Murrenger,

Newport’s oldest pub,

Then a quick one in The GreyHound,

Before we’d head onto a club.

It used to be called Brooklyn

Heights, then something else as well,

It ended up as Zanzibar,

The difference I can’t tell.

‘Cos it was Rudi’s way back in the day,

When we were only seventeen,

Same routine before hand,

But more casual, less preened.

It only seems like yesterday,

And the rose tint will fade fast,

But I can’t help but think fondly

Of those nights out of the past.

If you are a Welsh Mum then be sure to check out my Welsh Life pages where I keep everything to do with local life. I also have a Facebook group for working mums in Wales that you might want to check out. I’d love it if you joined.

Bookmark this page as I will post an update on any fundraising activities for Bethel Community Church if I hear of any.


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