A weekend city break is pretty easy with little children. There are parks and zoos and usually, a bouncy castle hiding somewhere between the sausage sizzle and the honey stall on the Saturday street market, but taking teenagers away to the city for the weekend – especially on a budget, can be a bit hit and miss.
No parent wants to go to all the effort -not to mention the costs involved in packing the family away for the weekend, only to be faced with long faces and wails of “I’m bored” from the teenagers.
This weekend we were all in Auckland.
Brian and I usually slip away to Auckland once every couple of months for a weekend of adult R&R, leaving the two teenagers with grandma and the 1000 inch TV. This time though, I was determined to not only take them with us but to have a fantastic time to boot.
It’s about finding the balance with teenagers.
There’s no way they would want to go hang out at a club with their parents- far too embarrassing (and anyway, at 13 and 16 they are not old enough and hmm, we are too old). It has to be somewhere that blows them away (although they would never admit that, come on, they are teenagers!) entertains Mum and dad, and doesn’t cost a fortune.
Being homeschoolers we are nearly always on a budget wherever we go, so cost was a big factor for me. I needed somewhere to take them that would be considered cool enough to take selfies and post to snap chat/Instagram, but at the same time giving Brian and I an evening of entertainment without feeling like ‘the oldies’.
Last night we found just that place. The Basement Theatre in downtown Auckland.
From the moment we crossed the car park and were greeted by steps climbing up to what is literally a basement adorned with lots of soft neon lighting, I knew we were onto a winner.
Walking inside felt as though we were entering a secret club. One in which you had to be really hip and cool to be allowed entry. But, and this is a big but, The Basement is filled with super friendly faces. From the lady sitting in the hole in the wall box office, to the pair behind the bar.
There was nothing awkward about entering the basement with teenagers. It was small but with loads of hidden nooks and crannies. Old battered leather armchairs and comfy bean bags invited you to grab a drink from the bar and soak up the atmosphere. It was warm without being stuffy, hip without being pretentious and most importantly, relaxed and friendly without being contrived. An added bonus was that apart from the tastefully lit corners spilling out their pink and blue hues, it was dark. Which is always, always a bonus when spending the evening with self-conscious teenagers.
We arrived at 6 pm and lucky for mum and dad it was happy hour at the bar. Two large glasses of Malbec were swiftly delivered to us by what felt like a neighbour popping over for wine and a chat. I kid you not when I tell you the atmosphere here is super relaxed.
There were ice creams, hand cut chips and lots of other delicious snacks to keep those hungry teenagers happy while chilling out on bean bags soaking up the atmosphere, all the while feeling very relaxed and grown up. Even going to the toilets felt cool!
There was also an outside area where you can take your drinks and watch other new comers entering the Basement. You are made to feel so incredibly welcome here, you’ll feel like a local within minutes.
We were very lucky to have been given complimentary tickets to see the show ‘Looking At Stuff In Clouds’.
5 minutes before the show started we were taken through to the performance space, via a staircase adorned with graffiti and more tastefully coloured lights, into an intimate studio.
The show, ‘Looking At Stuff In Clouds’ a provoking comedy looking at lives, relationships and fears in small town New Zealand. Donna Brookbanks and Shoshana McCallum delivered what can only be described as a hilarious yet poignant take on life in New Zealand through the generations, via a series of vignettes. (Get the teenagers to look it up, extra points for educational value!).
The actors led the audience from scene to scene, making clever use of props that were simple and hung on the back wall throughout the show. The set consisted of clouds made of chicken wire, covered in paper and suspended from the ceiling, changing colour with every new vignette. These, along with two shabbily painted stools, provided a simplistic feel to the show.
It was fast paced, slick and hugely entertaining. The actor’s ability to depict two teenage girls discussing their preferred date to the upcoming ball while eating a bag of crisps, had my teenagers both cringing and laughing.
The actor’s portrayal of two unfit middle aged women ogling a fit gym instructor from the comfort of their exercise bikes, had me cringing and laughing.
It was one of those shows that you genuinely didn’t want to end. My teenagers adored it, as did we. Looking At Stuff In The Clouds ended its run at The Basement on Saturday 4th August but if you see this show playing elsewhere, go and see it. This is New Zealand’s writing at its best.
The Basement changes its programme every week, but there are two regular stand up comedy slots every Friday night. Down to Clown is on at 8.30pm fitting in nicely with a late trip to a dumpling house, and Snort is a later show, starting at 10 pm. My teenagers would have absolutely LOVED to have gone to any one of these, there’s nothing that makes them (or us) happier than watching stand up comedy. I will definitely be taking them to see some comedy on our next visit.
The added bonus of these exciting regular features is that they are an absolute bargain. Prices for Snort are just $5 a ticket, and Down to Clown starts at $15. Even this homeschooling parent can afford that!
Do yourself a favour parents, if you find yourself in Auckland for the weekend with teenagers, you have to take them to The Basement. for the evening. You won’t regret it.
They will feel grateful, hip and relaxed. You will feel rich, young and appreciated. I promise it’s a win win situation!
Book tickets to Snort here.
Down To Clown tickets are bought on the door.
If you’re driving, there is a car park right over the road with lots of spaces.
If you’re walking, I can recommend the house Malbec. Have fun!