It’s a balmy Saturday evening in 1996 and “Rhythm is a dancer” by Snap! is booming in the streets of Paceville.

Hundreds of youngsters are queuing in line for Axis, with a Lm1 coin in their hand, waiting for Ernest, the legendary bouncer, to let them in the club just in time for the laser show, “in the best disco Malta has ever seen.”

These are echoes from a vibrant past, the ghosts of Paceville of old. Those youngsters previously queuing in line, now adults, describe it as the peak time of Paceville, where everyone felt safe, and everyone always had fun.

While some memories fade with time, others linger, completely forgotten, until stirred. Here, we revisit some of the iconic clubs that once pulsated with energy in Paceville, drawing crowds to their dance floors.

1) Coconut Grove and the Rock Café

In 1986, Coconut Grove first swung open its doors, beckoning rock and metal aficionados into its lively embrace.

However, the passage of time saw its transformation into a Burger King outlet, marking the end of an era.

When news broke that the establishment would be replaced by a fast-food chain, backlash resulted in the birth of the iconic Lash Bash Party. Still remembered to this day, the event saw tumblers being smashed and toilet bowls being torn off.

Later, Coconut Grove relocated to another location but would close its doors permanently in 2016. Adjacent stood the Rock Café, a haven for rock enthusiasts, now succeeded by Stiletto—a gentleman's club. These establishments provided sanctuary for those who found solace in the heady chords of rock music.

2) Styx I and II

Styx was one of the first clubs in Paceville and was highly popular in the late 80s and 90s. Speaking in an interview with TX Current Affairs, owner Kevin Decesare shared that Styx was the first club to open the dance floor to younger audiences – strictly between 6 and 10pm.

“We used to close, clean up and reopen for the adults over 21. In 1985 we added lasers. This was strange for many people. Some even hid behind columns over fear that the lasers would hurt them,” he said.

The laser show was also carried on to Styx II, accompanied by electronic music. At the time, Styx II was also used as a platform by musical band Getting Closer, led by William Mangion. The band performed during a 20-minute show and played cover versions of hit songs.

3) Axis

Many say that Axis revolutionised the Paceville scene. Also interviewed by TX Current Affairs, owner Chis Grech said that when dance music was introduced, men and women did not have to wait for others to ask them to dance with them but could simply join the dance floor.

TVM programme “X’sar minnhom?” also shed light on the disco scene at the time. Dj Alex Grech recalled that the club was ultra-modern and attracted lots of young people.

It should be noted that many people narrating some of their adventures at Axis on Facebook, and also Dj Grech, distinctly remember the strict dress-code that this club requested. The famous moustached bouncer Ernest would not let anyone pass through the doors unless they upheld by the unwritten rules: smart clothes, no visible piercings for men and – most importantly – a blazer and tie on special occasions like Christmas Eve or New Years Eve.

4) Raffles Discotheque

Raffles was also another highly frequented discotheque in St Julian’s. It featured an iconic sunk in bar and hosted multiple concerts by foreign artists and bands such as Samantha Fox, the Real Modern Romance and Dan Harrow, that packed the disco to the brim.

The disco wasn’t exclusive to the main Paceville zone but was situated in St Andrew’s area.

5) Wild Koyte, BJs, The Alley and more

Paceville had many other clubs that to this day remain beloved, with limited information about their history.

The Alley had many loyal customers. On multiple nostalgic social media posts, many joked that The Alley was almost their second home, while others commented that they met their significant others there.

Local Facebook group Nostalgia Malta is flooded with mentions of other hotspots like Wild Koyote, BJs, Napoleon’s Pub, Zanzi Bar, Bamboo, DewDrops and Clouds café.

Though the neon lights have dimmed, and the laser shows have faded into obscurity, the spirit of Paceville's past lives on in the memories of those who have graced its storied streets.

Main Image:

Axis posted by Giulio Zammit on Nostalgia Malta / Facebook

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Written By

Anthea Cachia

Anthea has a passion for writing, meeting new people and telling stories. With an insatiable curiosity Anthea loves roaming localities in search of long-established small businesses. When not scribbling away on a notebook or tapping on her computer, you can find her experimenting in the kitchen or traveling.