On the 8th of October, the Warehouse Theatre (WT) in Windhoek hosted their farewell party after announcing that they were closing their doors due to financial constraints.
For their last night, the renowned theatre called on all creative souls to come and showcase their artistic talents on the WT stage for one last time. In response, Namibians of all talents and an upbeat, diverse audience came out in numbers.
Namibians were well-entertained by the open mic in the theatre. The program featured numerous acts of poets, singers, rappers, and dancers.
Established bands such as Echo Vision, a Namibian Rock cover band, gave an electric performance. And Kalactive, an Afro Jazz/Afrobeat band also gave a stunning performance with amazing instrumental tunes.
Well-known artists such as Slickartie and Sean K also performed in tribute to the Warehouse. The iconic venue has been their performance stage since the start of their successful music careers.
The Boiler Room also hosted their final karaoke night, over-track singing lovers showing up in huge masses. All present had a great time.
It is sad to lose one of the only places in the City of Windhoek that provided a creative environment for artistic and musical entertainment. The Warehouse Theatre was a welcoming safe space for everyone regardless of race, sexual identification, cultural background or creed. Even though farewells can be gloomy, there was an atmosphere of togetherness and excitement permeating the premises.
Both locals and foreigners came out to say goodbye to the theatre. Younger patrons who have come to know the Warehouse as their second home were there to say goodbye. Older patrons who have known the theatre since its first opening came to revisit WT memories and dance the night away one last time.
Many who have regularly attended events at the WT said that it was the largest audience the theatre has ever entertained. Throngs of people were moving through the premises like a happy herd of sheep with no clear direction. It was a spectacular final celebration at the Warehouse Theatre.
The Windhoek Observer spoke to a few regulars who came to say goodbye to the art-friendly establishment.
One Warehouse frequenter expressed despair about the closing saying, “Windhoek will not be the same. We have truly lost a gem.”
Another regular, Rejoice Marowa, a former Miss Namibia semi-finalist, was still in denial saying, “Wow, Warehouse is really closing. I am struggling to believe it. It’s a huge loss."
The establishment which recently celebrated its 30th year in business, undertook several rescue attempts, such as a crowdfunding festival, to save it from closing its doors. These efforts did not forestall the financial pressures which led to the facility’s closure.
The Warehouse Theatre Windhoek opened its doors in 1989. Since then, it has been at the centre of Namibia’s art scene. WT provided a home and platform for local artists and hosted numerous noteworthy international artists.
The core of Warehouse Theatre’s purpose has always been to make performance art in Namibia accessible. It also was committed to giving artists a chance to grow their audiences and make a living from doing the work they love.
Various rumours are circulating that the facility will be converted to high-end apartments and businesses in the near future. Regardless of the outcome, a key part of the art and cultural nightlife in Windhoek has gone dark.
Additional reporting from June Shimuoshili of unwrap.online/warehouse-theatre-to-close-shop/