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Bapsfontein Hotel neon sign

#Gauteng52, Week 28: Honky-Tonkin’ at the Bapsfontein Hotel

Welcome to Week 28 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I will visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit the Bapsfontein Hotel. This may surprise those who know only the current, city-girl version of me. But I am no stranger to honky-tonk. I’m American and I grew up more or less in the country, listening to my dad play Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, and Johnny Cash on the car stereo as he drove me to softball practice in his pickup truck. So when I started spotting pictures on Facebook of the Bapsfontein Hotel — a country-western bar about an hour northeast of Joburg with the greatest neon sign I’ve ever seen — I knew I had to go. The Bapsfontein Hotel’s old-school neon sign. The Story of the Bapsfontein Hotel I can’t dig up much history about Bapsfontein or the Bapsfontein Hotel. Everything I know was gleaned from snatched conversations with the new owners (yelled over the noise of the music) on the day I was there. Bapsfontein is a tiny town — too far from Joburg to be a city suburb, too close to be properly […]

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Fashion at Work Shop New Town

Work Shop New Town: The Embodiment of Jozi Coolness

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. Ntsaki (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 […]

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The Best Night Ever in Soweto

It was the first night of the #72hrsSoweto campaign, the day before the start of the Soweto Wine Festival. It was freezing cold, raining, and I was ridiculously underdressed. We had just finished a home-cooked meal — lamb stew, pap, spicy chakalaka, steak, and vegetarian curry — at the legendary Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers, followed by live music and poetry around the fire. Our group was preparing to leave. I shivered, thinking about burrowing under the covers back in my room at the Soweto Hotel. “We’re going somewhere else now,” one of the other bloggers told me. I sighed. Maybe I’m too old for this campaign, I thought. It was already past my bedtime. But I dutifully climbed into the van with the rest of the group. A few minutes later, the van stopped. We piled out into the drizzle and I followed the feet of the person in front of me, picking my way around mud puddles in the darkness. We walked inside a gate, into a haze of herby smoke, and through a doorway into a bright yellow room. The room was warm and filled with music. The emcee and the DJ, Kuttin’ Keith (otherwise known as the healer). It was hard to take it all in at first. The […]

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The 2014 Joburg City Festival: My Photo Highlights

The Absa Joburg City Festival was this past weekend. There were many cool events happening simultaneously all over the city and I didn’t manage to see and do everything that I wanted to do. But I did make it to quite a few things and I had a blast. Here’s a photo round-up of my Joburg City weekend. Graffiti artwork on display at the Absa Gallery. I started on Thursday evening at the Absa Art Gallery downtown. Absa Bank is the title sponsor of the Joburg City Festival and they kicked off the weekend with a huge art exhibition, which included stunning photography, paintings, and graffiti artwork. I’m partial to these graffiti-painted model train cars, as my boyfriend painted them. The guy in the trippy shirt and Rasta hat seemed to like them too. The exhibition is up for a month — go check it out. After the Absa exhibition I headed to the Sheds @1Fox. Courtyard at the Sheds @1Fox. The Sheds officially opened on Thursday and they are fantastic. The space looks amazing and I can’t believe how many delectable food stalls there are to choose from. There are also craft shops, three bars with an extensive wine and beer menu, a huge Happy.me bubble tea stand, and a […]

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Preview: The Sheds @1Fox, and the Best Week of the Year in Joburg City

Remember my post from three months ago about the Sheds @1Fox? The giant, historic warehouse on Fox Street slated to become a fashionable downtown market? I went back to see it again last Friday. The Sheds three months ago. The Sheds on Friday. The Sheds @1Fox has come a long way since June and it’s on schedule to open this week, just in time for the Joburg City Festival. On Thursday (2 October) there will be an “urban picnic” to celebrate the opening of the Sheds, benefiting the Starfish Greathearts Foundation, and on Saturday (4 October) there will be a concert featuring my favorite Jozi band, BCUC. I’m excited to check out both events. Speaking of the Joburg City Festival, the festival is this weekend (the two events at the Sheds are part of the main programme) and there will be exciting things happening all around downtown Jozi from Thursday through Sunday. Last year’s Joburg City Festival was awesome and I can’t wait to see how this year measures up. Browse around the festival website to see what’s on and then book your tickets — there are some really big acts playing so don’t procrastinate. Public transport is available to and from all Joburg City Festival events. BCUC […]

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The Best Jozi Birthday Weekend of All Time, Ever

My birthday is on Tuesday. On the actual day I’m going to be in Knysna — a lovely seaside town in the Western Cape — as a guest of the of the Knysna Oyster Festival. I’ll be participating in countless exciting activities in Knysna and I imagine this will be a pretty fun way to spend my birthday. (It’s a big one, by the way.) But of course I am also a little bit sad that I won’t be celebrating in Jozi. I more than made up for that this weekend though. Last night my favorite Jozi band, BCUC, played a gig at Curiocity Backpackers in Maboneng. This gig was more or less organized in honor of my birthday. I don’t know how to explain how great it was. Here’s the only decent picture I got: BCUC forgot their sound equipment so they performed without microphones. “We’re improvising for 2Summers,” said Jovi (center). At least I think that’s what he said. I was too busy swooning to hear him properly. The lack of sound equipment made BCUC’s performance about 100 times more awesome, in my opinion, although I suspect that they’ve all lost their voices today. (Read my other BCUC posts here and here.) Thanks so much to […]

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Five Random Thoughts on the Joburg Philharmonic Orchestra

On Thursday I attended a performance of the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra (JPO). I had a great time, but I don’t know a lot about classical music so I feel uncomfortable reviewing the performance in the traditional sense. Also photography isn’t allowed during JPO performances so I don’t have any pics. (I can’t stand to publish a photo-less post so I’m including some shots I took a few months ago at an outdoor JPO performance downtown.) The JPO performs outside the Rand Club during the Joburg City Media Weekend in May 2013.

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Joburg City Fest: Beer, Bright Lights and BCUC

The Joburg City Festival started two days ago and I’m already behind. There are at least half a dozen awesome events every day — I can’t do it all while also finding time to tell you about it. I’ve taken thousands of pictures already. Nightfall at Randlords Sunday evening. I have a few hundred more shots like this. I’ll start by telling you about my weekend experiences and catch up on the rest later.

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Quick Reminder: Melville is Awesome

I’ve had half a dozen bloggable experiences in the past 48 hours. Please bear with me while I catch up. I’ll start with the most recent: yesterday’s Fête de la Musique in Melville. Fête de la Musique is a free music festival sponsored by the Alliance Française. This is the second year in a row that the Fête has taken place in Melville, which is a great source of pride to those of us who live here and believe our suburb deserves more love. I blogged about the Fête last year, so yesterday I decided to enjoy the day like a regular person rather than a blogger. I brought my camera with me but didn’t really plan to take any photos. Then I found myself standing on a table in a new venue on 7th Street called the ‘Fro Music Lounge, watching a band called The Brother Moves On. I was so amazed by the scene that I had to pull my camera out.

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Jozi Round-up

When I first moved to Joburg I blogged about everything I did. Going for a walk, shopping for groceries, sitting in the yard watching birds…No activity was too trivial. Everything was bloggable. Nearly three years later, my blogging habits have changed. I do a lot more exciting things than I used to and I don’t have the time to blog about them all. I also don’t bring my big camera with me everywhere I go anymore, which means I’m at the mercy of my iPhone camera. Sometimes I get good pictures and sometimes I don’t. If I don’t get enough good pictures, I don’t blog. Hence, I pick and choose my bloggable experiences.

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I Danced Like a Maniac in Hillbrow

Actually, “jumped around like a maniac” is a better description of what I did. But you know what I mean. This is Jovi, lead singer of a band from Soweto called BCUC. He made me jump around like a maniac. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the terrible taxi accident at the Hillbrow Boxing Club, and our plans to help Coach George Khosi fix his ring and make other repairs to the gym. I’m pleased to report that the fundraising efforts have been very productive. The ring has already been replaced and several other improvements are underway.

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Weekend of Jozi Awesomeness

Emily, a friend of mine from America who is backpacking around the world, visited me in Jozi this weekend. The timing of Emily’s visit was both lucky and unlucky. Unlucky because it rained all weekend. Lucky because this was the funnest Jozi weekend ever, jam-packed with quirky art exhibitions, musical performances, photowalks, and other awesome things. Herewith is a recap of the Weekend of Jozi Awesomeness, recorded on my iPhone.

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