Work Shop New Town: The Embodiment of Jozi Coolness

by | Aug 31, 2016 | Arts and Culture, Johannesburg, Johannesburg City Centre, Markets/Shopping, Music/Festivals | 4 comments

If you read this blog then you already know that downtown Jozi is cool. But do you know about Work Shop New Town? This particular corner of Joburg takes coolness to a whole new level.

Fashion at Work Shop New TownNtsaki (left) and Jade (right), two salespeople at Work Shop New Town who are also contenders for the two coolest people in all of Johannesburg. They’re surrounded by shoes from Maria McCloy, one of Joburg’s coolest designers. I intend to buy a pair of these shoes very soon.

Work Shop New Town is “an innovative retail concept” in Newtown, adjacent to the Newtown Junction mall. It’s a modern, open-plan glass structure, filled with small fashion and design shops that meld seamlessly into one another. Work Shop New Town is built on the site of Joburg’s “Potato Sheds”, a historic fruit and vegetable market built in 1911 that was torn down to make way for Newtown Junction. There’s not much left of the actual Potato Sheds, unfortunately, but the old trolley tracks to the market are still there and run right outside of Work Shop New Town.

I’m not a big shopper, as I’ve said many times before, but Work Shop New Town has the kind of shopping I like. Local, colorful, and cool, but not snobbishly cool. Cool in the best possible sense of the word.

Jade outside Dr. Pachanga in Work Shop New TownI bought a 1980s vintage faux leather jacket for R250 ($17) from a Work Shop New Town shop called Dr. Pachanga. I don’t have any photos of the jacket and I don’t have any photos of the actual Dr. Pachanga shop, which is just to the right of this frame. But I do have lots of photos of Jade, who sold me the jacket. Because Jade is so cool.

Jade at Work Shop New TownSee what I mean?

In addition to about two dozen cool shops, Work Shop New Town also has a cool dim sum/cocktail bar called Town, which sells delicious (if somewhat pricey) dumplings and cocktails. Work Shop New Town also puts on great events, which brings me to the reason that I went there on Saturday.

BCUC performing at Pic Nic New TownBCUC performing at Pic Nic New Town. Jovi (right) is BCUC’s lead singer and Luja (left) is the bass drummer.

On the last Saturday of each month, Work Shop New Town hosts an event called Pic Nic New Town. The event takes place on the “urban lawns” just outside the retail space, and includes remarkably soft astroturf and comfy pillows to sit on, yummy food to eat, and fantastic, free live music. Last weekend’s Pic Nic New Town lineup included BCUC, my favorite Joburg band. BCUC puts on amazing live performances and there was such a great vibe at this event. I took a million photos.

Jovi of BCUCThose of you who have been reading my blog for a while might remember that BCUC performed at my 40th birthday party a couple of years ago. I love them.

BCUC drummerCheex, one of BCUC’s two drummers.

The crowd watching BCUC was every bit as cool and entertaining as BCUC itself.

Blue-haired ladyJozi coolness in blue.

Jozi cool red sunglassesJozi coolness in red plastic glasses and Ndebele beads.

Cool woman at Pic Nic New TownThis woman is so cool, she can take cell phone pictures without even looking at her phone.

Pic Nic New Town mirrored sunglasses Colorful mirrored sunglasses are in.

Baby at Pic Nic New TownCool baby at Pic Nic New Town.

Puppy at Pic Nic New TownThere was even a cool dog at Pic Nic New Town. Her name is Congo and she is a 10-week-old chow.

I loved Work Shop New Town and I loved this event. Note that you can bring your own food to Pic Nic New Town, and there are two large grocery stores conveniently located just steps away in Newtown Junction. Newtown Junction also has a spacious underground parking garage and parking is just R10 for the whole afternoon. There is no excuse not to go there.

Downtown Joburg is cool. Newtown is cool. Work Shop New Town is cool. Pic Nic New Town is cool. BCUC is cool. The end.


  1. Expatorama

    It’s very cool, but I hear they have been struggling a bit with footfall as the rest of the mall is aimed at locals and people just don’t know it’s there. Hopefully people will read your post and realise what they’ve been missing out on. There’s masses to do in Newtown and I’m sometimes surprised how few Jo’burgers I meet have ventured there.

    • 2summers

      I know, Newtown is definitely underrated.

  2. autumnashbough

    Congo is adorable. Like a fluff ball with teeth!

    So is the dim sum for real? People sit at tables and the carts move around the room?

    • 2summers

      Oh no, it’s definitely not that real. In South Africa the term ‘dim sum’ basically refers to any kind of bite-sized Asian food 🙂


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