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Before social media: Hangouts where celebrities, fans converged

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Social media has without a doubt changed the scope of human interactions. These days, many fans can interact with their favourite celebrities on various social media platforms but some years back, that was not possible. Beyond seeing stars on television screens and at events, there were some spots, especially in Lagos, where fans could be sure of running into entertainers. Merrymakers takes a look at some of those spots, many of which have seen better days

Ojez Bar, National Stadium

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

It was a place where one was sure to run into Nollywood stars and other entertainers. It also offered up-and-coming actors the opportunity to meet veterans and A-list actors, and seal deals, as well as build profitable relationships.

Stadium Hotel

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

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

Many years ago, Olaiya, accompanied by his International All-Stars Orchestra, used to thrill celebrities and other guests at the Papingo Night Club in the hotel every Saturday.

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

The hotel is still in existence but it is no longer the melting pot for entertainers and their fans that it once was.

Winis Hotel and Bar

Also located in Surulere, Lagos, Winis Hotel and Bar used to be a thriving hub for movie stars. It is less than 10 minutes’ drive from the National Stadium and less than 20 minutes drive from the National Theatre, Iganmu.

Some years ago, Winis used to be the preferred hangout for celebrities. Many auditions and casting calls held there, and any wannabe actor that frequented the place was very likely to be spotted by one producer or the other. Up-and-coming actors were known to always visit the place back in the day to get mentorship and tutelage in the art of acting from veteran movie stars. Many actors have also spoken about how they got their first shot at acting at Winis many years ago.

National Theatre

The National Theatre located at Iganmu, Lagos, used to be a traditional location where actors, actresses and movie crews used to meet to rehearse, do auditions, and groom newbies. The venue used to host open casting events, with persons interested in acting always coming to showcase their talents and skills.

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

Feminar Café

Feminar Café, located within the premises of the Lagos Television, Agidingbi, used to be a joint where people that mattered in the entertainment and media industries retired to after work.

It was one of those locations where entertainers usually hung out, with journalists always present looking to get interviews and scoops. It was also a place where people who were interested in becoming movie stars visited to meet with veteran actors. It is without a doubt that many people became celebrities based on the relationships they were able to forge 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 opinion leaders, as well as a venue where an exclusive class of Nigerians and foreigners could relax, discuss and have uninhibited fun.

At a point, the club came to be regarded as one of the leading entertainment centres in Nigeria. The upscale event place moved to its permanent site on February 2, 1999, and it operated there successfully until December 18, 2003, when the arena (club floor) was razed by fire.

Reconstruction and rehabilitation work on the redesigned Coliseum started in January 2004,and it  was formally reopened on August 5, 2005. The Coliseum comprises The Baby Coliseum (security tower), The Summit (multi-purpose conference/banquet hall), The Arena (club floor) and The Dacha(a 12-room bed and breakfast guest lodge).

Emphasising its exclusivity, the founder, Ken Olumese, popularly known as the G’uvnor, had in a 2017 interview with City People Magazine, stated the club was not meant for everybody. He said, “It was for a talented few and I had that audience for 25 years. The audience was (for) the very responsible, not only middle class but the audience that would normally not go to clubs. I had governors (such as Gbenga Daniel, a former Ogun State governor; and Uzor Kalu, a former Abia State governor) as members of the club. I chose my audience. Membership was never bought; I only gave it to people who were deserving of it.”

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

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