Johannesburg Nightlife Tips by CatherineReichardt Top 5 Page for this destination
Johannesburg Nightlife: 44 reviews and 39 photos
In response to a query from a fellow VTer about night clubs in JHB, I did a little research on clubs in the Sandton area (since this is where most tourists choose to stay). For what it's worth, I have decided to share the info (relevant as of January 2011), although I must add the qualifier that I am a middle aged matron and have never set foot inside any of them!
The 'staple' fixture of the Sandton night club scene is Taboo (www.taboo.co.za) which has become a local institution and has been going strong for over seven years - forever in clubbing terms.
Other currently popular options are Clapham Gold (www.claphamgold.co.za) LiquidChefs cocktail lounge and cafe (www.liquidchefs.co.za), ZAR Lounge which is the favourite haunt of ANC cadres (www.zarsa.co.za) and Latinova (www.latinova.com). I wouldn't have the first idea what they're like, but my clubbing colleagues think highly of them, and they get favourable reviews in Sandton's monthly magazine (whose opinion is far more trustworthy than mine!)
Alternatively you could head for the legendary Bassline club in Newtown(www.bassline.co.za) for excellent jazz and blues by local and international artists - I may be out of touch, but even I know that this is a great experience as it's been going forever (albeit previously on another site)!
Just be aware that the fact that I now know about these places probably automatically makes them uncool!
The Civic Theatre is located in unfashionable Braamfontein, at the northern end of the Johannesburg CBD. The location is unfortunate, given the reluctance of most Jo'burgers to venture into the CBD, particularly after dark, but it appears that people are slowly being tempted to return.
There has been considerable effort made in upgrading this unattractive 60's concrete edifice, particularly the development of an adjacent arts precinct and the effort has been worthwhile. There is some underground parking, and the security for overflow parking (underneath the Jo'burg municipality) is pretty good.
The quality of shows at the Civic is high and comparable with standards overseas, and prices a fraction of what you would pay in the West End or on Broadway (2010: R150-R350 depending on the show and the seats you select). Life in South Africa already contains enough gritty reality, so local audiences tend to prefer musicals and 'lighter' subject matter (also see tips about the Theatro at Montecasino under Things to Do). Shows that I have seen in the last year (2009) include Aspects of Love and Footloose - both of which were excellent. See www.computicket.co.za to see what shows are other live events are on offer here (and at other venues throughout the country).
To my mind, the highlight of the year is the annual pantomime that runs from mid November to late December and is a veritable family institution that appeals to all generations. Pantomime is an art form that is virtually impossible to explain to people who haven't been exposed to British/colonial culture - including my German husband - and, whether you end up loving it or loathing it, it is well worth the experience! It is best described as a camp, bawdy, satirical musical based (usually very) loosely on a children's fairy tale that appeals to kids on one level and their parents on another. Smutty humour and double entendres abound - usually about topical issues such as politics, celebrities and other holy cows - there is always a Dame (a man dressed unconvincingly as a woman) and unlike most other theatrical performance, audience interaction is encouraged (a standard excerpt involves the audience baying, "He's behind you ...", and interactions such as "Oh no he didn't!" ... "Oh yes he did!"). The costumes and sets are over the top, the music is loud and upbeat - frankly there's nothing like a panto, and you should grab the opportunity to see one if you get the chance! The pantomime at the Civic (directed by the legendary Janice Honeyman) is always a lavish affair, and well worth catching if you're in town at that time of year.
There is also a smaller theatre at the side of the Civic called the People's Theatre, which specialises in children's shows. The setting is much more intimate and less intimidating for small kids than the main auditorium, and I think that the productions are very well pitched at an age range from 3 upwards. Recent shows have included The Wizard of Oz and The Little Mermaid, with Jungle Book opening this month (March 2010).
Dress Code: None
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