The Tafelberg

Who doesn’t love bowling? The thrill of the release, not knowing whether you’ll knock over all (or any) of the pins, the joy when the little suckers knock themselves over. But what many don’t know – especially those who are visitors to Cape Town – is that there is still a place where you can bowl like they used to in the good old days.

The Tafelberg Bowling Alley. Tucked away down a small street in the heart of the City Bowl lies the Tafelberg Hotel, an old dame who’s fast becoming the new (old) cool kid on the block. Here are two bowling lanes not only made out of wood (wood! Imagine!) but still manned by real humans. Yip, you read that right – no mechanized re-stacking of the pins here! Two men stand at the back (and off to the side so that they don’t get injured by the giant bowling balls) and restack the pins every time they fall down. Of course, this can get slightly hazardous as there is also a bar next to the lanes, and the drunker people get the more wildly their bowling swings get, and the less they understand the concept of a real person at the end of the bowling lane.
But still, it’s a fun night out.

Once you’re done with the bowling (the men only work until 10pm, and you’re free to restack the pins on your own from then on if you don’t mind the risk of permanent physical damage from wildly thrown bowling balls), there’s the Tafelberg bar, a slightly seedy bar in the neighbouring hotel, i.e. right next door. This formerly-sleazy-now-quite-hip bar also plays host to bi-monthly Pecha Kucha nights.

Pecha Kucha is an ingenious way to share information and inspiration. Created in Tokyo, Japan in February 2003, Pecha Kucha (which means ‘chit chat’ in Japanese) is now a worldwide event, and a great way for designers and other creative types to meet and discuss new ideas. The format is simple, but very effective: 20 images x 20 seconds. The speaker is given 6.6666 minutes to present 20 slides on a subject, and each slide is only displayed for 20 seconds. This is just enough time to convey the bare bones of an idea, but not so long that people get bored. No matter what the topic, if it’s only being spoken about for 6 minutes, most people will be interested (or, at least, be able to pay attention).

Pecha Kucha in Cape Town has been around for a few years, but recently went into hibernation for a few months, only to re-emerge at the Tafelberg. It’s also active in Joburg, Durban, and 360 cities around the world. Find out more (and sign up to speak about your passion) at

Photo: PechaKucha

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