The Assembly is now #SurfHarD and has a new owner, Jordy Smith
Words: Dylan Muhlenberg | Photography + Video: Nick Gordon
Teaming up with two other Durbanites, restaurateur Reg Macdonald and Big Wave World Champion Grant Twiggy Baker (the duo behind Aces n’ Spades and The Village Idiot), professional surfer Jordy Smith celebrated his second place finish on the World Championship Tour by diversifying his asset portfolio and giving a Cape Town institution a second chance.
In the same way that 2015 left Jordy a bit broken, the new space has risen from the ashes (there was literally a fire there the last time we shot there) and aims to have something for everyone.
The Assembly has been transformed into three new spaces: SurfaRosa, Harringtons and District, which if you play scrabble using the first coupla letters from each makes up Jordy Smith’s unofficial motto and the umbrella term for the space, #SurfHarD
“I wanted to celebrate my 2016 and this will forever be a place that I can remember that," says Jordy. "I wanted to start the year off with good vibes, and a place for people to have a good time and let their hair down. That’s what I’m about.”
The three different spaces don’t necessarily require three different outfits, but we still thought we’d convince the O’Neill team rider to step out of his usual uniform of surfwear and style himself in outfits that might best represent each space.
As a dedicated follower of fashion, Jordy was happy to school us in how to dress for a big night out, and we’re sure you’ll agree that guy has as much style on land as he does in the water.
“My favourite spot would probably be SurfaRosa, just because anyone would feel comfortable there. There’s a lot of layers to the place. A lot of character. It probably only holds 80 people, but it’s full-on rock 'n' roll, so come as you are and have a good time.”
The dive bar has punk, surf and skate influences and has been designed as a neighbourhood drinkery for locals to suck quarts in a casual environment. The vibe is laid-back and the music is loud, with Tiki masks on the wall, surfboards on the ceiling and band posters plastered all over the walls.
“I’m really specific about the rip in the jeans or the type of band shirt that I wear. I like things that are original. I’m not about to go to the mall or wherever and buy a lookalike. That’s just not my vibe. I’ve got a couple of band shirts from the 70s, a Guns N' Roses shirt from when they opened for The Rolling Stones, a Motorhead T-shirt from 86… Some of these T-shirts have been around for, like, over 30 years. That’s older than me.”
“Harringtons is a more upscale, New York style cocktail bar. It’s fancy and somewhere someone in a suit and tie can come and let their hair down. If things get a bit too loose downstairs at SurfaRosa then you can come up here and have a cocktail.”
This classic cocktail lounge has views of the neighbourhood, a smoker’s balcony and plenty of plush velvet booths. It’s an upscale environment with a distinct air of sophistication, but not so stuffy that an after-work drink won’t turn into an impromptu night out when the DJ booth lights up.
“When I bought my first suit I thought it would be enough, but ended up ruining the pants from doing knee slides across the floor at my wedding. So I had to buy another one. While I was there I thought, well the suit and tie thing is cool, but let’s step things up with a tux. Now when things get really elegant and fancy I throw on the tux.”
* We feel we’d be doing whoever is reading this a disservice by failing to mention that Jordy’s suits, shirts and tuxedo are by Hugo Boss, the shoes that he’s wearing here are by Louis Vuitton and the smoking hot blonde on his arm is his wife, Lyndall.
“District is a proper nightclub that doubles up as an events space. I find that bands don’t really have any places to play anymore. Now we have a venue that’s able to hold 800-plus. Every Friday night, resident DJs Strange Loving will play, so you get the best of both worlds. Then there’s some sick blacked-out booths if people want bottle service and want to avoid the mosh pit or whatever’s happening.”
Entering the club from the side street, late-night revellers will be met by first-rate lighting and sound systems, which cater for both electronic music and live bands. A 4am liquor license means the party doesn’t need to stop until the sun starts to come up.
“I keep a wardrobe in Cape Town and one in the States, but my shoes always travel with me. I dress from the bottom up and the sneaker collection is out of control. When I was growing up in Durban there was this stereotype of how you should dress to the club. Square-toe shoes and collared shirts, and that’s definitely not who I am. It was one of the most frustrating things where I would get bounced for wearing a pair of sneakers that cost more than some people’s entire outfits. So what we did was buy one pair of club shoes and then share them. One dude would wear them in, someone would throw his shoes up over the balcony and he’d throw the square toes back down so that the next guy could wear them in. We did that almost every weekend.”
And that’s the clincher - while Jordy has taken the time to show us how we may dress for each space, there’s absolutely no door policy at any of these venues. Like riding an open wave, true style comes down to your own interpretation of what style is.
* For operating hours, contact details and anything else you may need to know, check out The Firm.