Durban’s Riviera Hotel. Judging by the cars, it was probably taken in the early 70s.
Durban’s Riviera Hotel. Judging by the cars, it was probably taken in the early 70s.

Then & Now: Party spot remembered

By Frank Chemaly Time of article published Jan 15, 2022

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The old picture this week features Durban’s Riviera Hotel on the corner of Hermitage Lane and the Embankment (today Margaret Mncadi Avenue). Judging by the cars in the picture, it was probably shot in the early 70s.

The Riviera Hotel was designed by architects Croft and Benjamin and built in 1956. Architect Issy Benjamin also designed Haven Court and West Point, the immediate neighbours to the Riviera. You can see Haven Court on the right of the picture.

The hotel was famed for its nightlife and live musi,c hosting legendary Durban bands like Dicky Loader and the Blue Jeans, The Flames, Hennie Bekker and the Four Saints, the Beat Unit, and the Dave Anthony Quartet. Steve Gale and his Dixielanders featured every Saturday morning apparently.

The Riviera Hotel today. Shelley Kjonstad/ANA

John Taylor, in Facts About Durban, reminisces of the late 60s of the hotel’s upstairs lounge featuring a live band that often played during “cocktail hours”.

It was this venue that later became Club Le Chic nightclub, and at one point was the epicentre of Durban’s gay culture.

An old advert for the club features the band Copperfield and the show included Mario Perdigeo’s Magic Moments.

Today the 3-star hotel offers 66 hotel rooms, mostly with views of the harbour, some with a balcony. Family Rooms, accommodating two adults and two small young children, are also available. Our photographer Shelley Kjonstad captures the scene this week showing some changes to the façade of the hotel. Both the Riviera and Haven Court are still standing.

The Independent on Saturday

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