Artwork by Lex Trickett

Party Culture // A continuous movement of bodies

Texture – polyphonic. Timber – loud, brassy, warm, melodic, thick, soft and loud again. Tempo – quick, joyful, lively and frantic. Effect – exhilarating, uplifting and healing. Enter the party scene.

As major cities in South Africa, Cape Town and Johannesburg have very different party scenes. What they do have in common is that a rooftop with a good view always leads to a party.

Parties are often one of the few places that enable, nay actively encourage, full and unfiltered expression – from how you dress, how you dance and how you choose to be. It’s no surprise then that the party scene is inextricably linked with the type of activism that is centred around finding a voice and being visible. Going out and having fun with people you love can be tied to a culture of forging deep meaningful connections. It’s about community. Community participating. Community feeling seen. Community feeling home.

Womxn who have historically found it difficult to truly participate in the scene in ways that allow them to use their creative talents productively and sustainably are taking a stance – tackling inequality in the music and entertainment industry from a myriad of angles.

GSPOT is an organisation that facilitates femme focused DJ workshops and events, looking to provide a space for POC womxn in music events in Cape Town. GSPOT is challenging pre-existing structures by allowing for access to equipment and knowledge about industry best practices while also partnering with brands and producers with a similar vision. SA – the local chapter of the global network of women with active roles in the music industry – are taking a stand with a 2019 project called INCLUSION BEFORE PROFIT, seeking to refocus efforts and boycott events and promoters who have been taking advantage of heritage. In recent years we’ve witnessed countless promoters and events capitalize on the public holiday and throw “Women’s Day” events where they book all-women line ups once a year, and never book those artists again. They take all the profits from these events and do not contribute to any women-focused NGOs or charities. Effectively benefiting from the struggle of our predecessors and not working as allies to better the future for women in this country. The two organisations are presenting a collaborative event in Cape Town’s Foreshore beginning August 9th.

It’s not all grassroot movements and mobilising. It’s also about letting one’s hair down – music playing nonstop and a continuous movement of bodies where DJs revel in the selection and mixing process – Feel Good Series, Basha Uhuru Music Fest, Afropunk in Johannesburg, Rainbow Prime and Roots and Fruits in Cape Town are a few examples.

Although the two cities approach and experience party culture differently, intersections occur around theme with some effort for integration through shared artists, touring music productions and events such as Roots & Fruits, which presented their first event in Johannesburg this year (following six iterations in Cape Town). Inclusivity and openness traverses through borders and boundaries and allow for synergies across cities in a manner that is productive.

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