Before social media: Hangouts where celebrities and fans converged

Social media has undoubtedly changed the scope of human interactions. Many fans nowadays can interact with their favorite celebrities on various social media platforms, but a few years ago this was not possible. Beyond seeing stars on TV screens and at events, there were places, especially in Lagos, where fans could be sure to meet performers. Merrymakers takes a look at some of these places, many of which have seen better days

Ojez Bar, national stadium

Ojez Restaurant and Bar is a former hangout located in Surulere National Stadium, Lagos. There was a nightclub and a bar where people went dancing and had drinks. It also offered local and international cuisines.

It was a place where you were sure to meet Nollywood stars and other artists. It also offered up-and-coming actors the opportunity to meet veterans and top actors, strike deals, and build fruitful relationships.

stadium hotel

Located on Oyerokun Street in Surulere, Lagos, the hotel which is a short drive from the National Stadium was owned by the late highlife musician Victor Olaiya.

The hotel was one of the most popular places to have fun in Lagos, and celebrities were not left out.

Many years ago, Olaiya, accompanied by his All-Stars International Orchestra, entertained celebrities and other guests at the hotel’s Papingo Night Club every Saturday.

It was also a place where many actors got their first gigs in the film industry.

The hotel still exists but it is no longer the melting pot of artists and their fans that it once was.

Winis Hotel and Bar

Also located in Surulere, Lagos, the Winis Hotel and Bar was once a thriving hub for film stars. It is less than 10 minutes drive from National Stadium and less than 20 minutes drive from Iganmu National Theatre.

A few years ago, Winis was the favorite haunt of celebrities. Many auditions and casting calls were held there, and any aspiring actor who frequented the place was very likely to be scouted by one or another of the producers. Up-and-coming actors were known to always visit the place back then to get mentorship and acting tutelage from veteran movie stars. Many actors have also talked about how they got their first chance to star at Winis many years ago.

National Theater

The National Theater located in Iganmu, Lagos was once a traditional venue where actors, actresses and film crews would meet to rehearse, do auditions and prepare beginners. The venue hosted open casting events, with people interested in acting always coming to show off their talents and skills.

It also offered people the opportunity to meet and interact with actors.

Feminine Cafe

Feminar Café, located in the premises of Lagos Television, Agidingbi, was once a joint where important people in the entertainment and media industries retired after work.

It was one of those places where artists usually hang out, with journalists always present seeking interviews and scoops. It was also a place where people interested in becoming movie stars went to meet veteran actors. It is without a doubt that many people have become celebrities thanks to the relationships they have been able to make at Feminar.

Niteshift Coliseum

The Niteshift Coliseum was opened in 1988 as the NiteShift Club along Opebi Road, Ikeja, Lagos. The club served as a meeting point for professionals, entrepreneurs and thought leaders, as well as a place where an exclusive class of Nigerians and foreigners could relax, chat and have fun without restraint.

At some point, the club became one of the leading centers of entertainment in Nigeria. The upscale event venue moved to its permanent site on February 2, 1999 and operated there successfully until December 18, 2003, when the arena (club floor) was razed by fire.

Reconstruction and rehabilitation work on the redesigned Colosseum began in January 2004, and it was officially reopened on August 5, 2005. The Colosseum includes the Baby Coliseum (security tower), the Summit (multipurpose conference/banquet hall), the Arena (club level) and The Dacha (a 12-room bed and breakfast accommodation).

Highlighting its exclusivity, the founder, Ken Olumese, popularly known as G’uvnor, had in a 2017 interview with City People’s Magazine, said the club was not for everyone. He said: “It was for a few talents and I had that audience for 25 years. The public was (for) the very responsible, not only the middle class but the public who would not normally go to clubs. I had governors (like Gbenga Daniel, a former governor of Ogun State, and Uzor Kalu, a former governor of Abia State) as club members. I chose my audience. Membership was never purchased; I only gave it to people who deserved it.

Needless to say, in its heyday, the Niteshift Coliseum was a melting pot for artists, their fans, and other members of society, especially the elite.

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