One Night in Joburg

Mango flight over South AfricaLast month I managed to fly up to Johannesburg for drum n bass party Science Frikshun. Over the last 5 years I haven’t made too much effort to visit Johannesburg because, while growing up, it was always such an uninspiring city to me. There was never anything to do and if we did venture out it was inevitably to one of the many generic shopping centers around every corner. Not exactly my idea of fun. But 6 months ago I ventured back up to the big smoke and started to see it in a different light. Last month itt was good to be back again (in such short proximity) and I was ready to take in Jozi.

We made our way from the airport under the storm looming Johannesburg clouds, through the accident furnished highways to the city center for dinner before the party.  We stopped off in Braamfontein for some chow hey boet! Starving hey my chaaaina! (Sorry. Jozi slang took over me there). I’ve heard so much about the many bars in Johannesburg city center in recent years (Kitcheners, Great Dane, the Neighbourgoods Market around the corner) so it was great to put front shop to word.

Johannesburg SkylineSmoke House Johannesburg

Art in BraamfonteinWhile I was pretty surprised to see so many hammered people in the streets at 6:30pm, I was equally as impressed to see so many bars and artworks in the streets. I could feel the energy and grime lining the pavements. Loads of people were walking in the street with open liquor, drinking and being rowdy to the point where I asked, “It’s still not legal to drink in the streets, right?” To which I was reminded, “This is ANC territory. There’s no DA running things around here.” Oh ya. I forgot about that…

While I soaked up the grimy Braamfontein atmosphere on the dark evening (the sun really does set so early there – even in summer) we made our way to the Smoke House. The Smoke House is a seemingly family run business that offers American style food, priding themselves on smoking their meats. I decided to order ribs while the boys ordered steaks.

Smoke House, BraanfonteinSmoke House Johannesburg

Smoke House RibsNo chick wants to sit with rib gravy on her face. Ok, let me rephrase that. I don’t want to ever sit with rib gravy on my face, which is why I never bothered to order ribs in restaurants until Neighbourhood came along and changed that. But I have a non negotiable rib rule – if you can’t eat them with one hand, they’re rubbish. The ribs at the Smoke House had NO issue falling off the bone. There were two options as well, traditional Louisiana style ribs (dry rub) or sticky BBQ. I chose sticky and they were divine. I could pull the bones out of the meat with one hand and easily eat without wrestling with my dinner. They had a deep smokey flavour – so much so that it reminded me how far too often half a teaspoon of smoked paprika is added to a brine and it’s called ‘smoked’. Not the case at the Smoke House. Their food means business.

I also had a bite of the steak which was really juicy and tender. There’s something to be said about the meat outside of Cape Town and the prices too – it’s always cheaper when I’m on holiday, which isn’t really meant to be the case!

Drum n Bass in SFAfter dinner we headed to My House for Science Frikshun, Jozi’s ‘premium’ underground drum n bass night. Most of the drunk kids were already puking by 10pm, but I won’t point fingers too much because by 4am I had also had a “little” too much to drink. Truth edited out at editor’s discretion. Science Frikshun reminds me of Cape Town’s earlier deep, dark drum n bass nights. I perfect marriage between sound and visuals, SF is really well supported and the people are there to PAAARRRTTYYY! Unlike Cape Town, they don’t seem too concerned with what’s happening down the road. They are there in full force, no distractions. It was great to see that enthusiasm.


Johannesburg City CenterI really enjoyed being back in Jozi again so soon after the last trip. And I was really surprised to see how similar the Johannesburg city center is to Cape Town – except for the ‘High Hijacking Zone’ signs and the dead quiet streets (which didn’t leave me feeling too awesome). Once I was inside any venue I felt perfectly safe though.

Jozi really seems to have found it’s artistic stride (I’m not talking about traditional theatre and tv, I’m talking about street art and accessible art forms)  It’s like all the visits to Cape Town in December holidays have amounted to a lifestyle internship and they’ve gone back to Jozi and made it their own. It’s absolutely pumping on the art front these days. I’d go so far as to say it’s the place to be at the moment. (Sorry Cape Town. You know I love you but you’re like the spoilt child who never learnt to appreciate anything it was given.)

Well done Jozi. You’ve really grown into your own and I commend you. Keep it up. You never know, Capetonians may start to give you the credit you deserve. 😉

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