”Written byNick Trethowan
Between Friday and Sunday, while the law struggles to find its eyes, there exists the demons and the social itch.
Cape Town, Spring 2021. Early with the fog off the mountain and the desperation for normality in a time that is nothing but. Scene kids roll into their lodgings as curfew breaks around the Mother City. It’s easy to pretend that the city has been asleep between 11 and 4. That the precepts of law and order – as established and pleaded by our government – would be followed by the young and hopeful, but as a new day breaks, the sun rises upon the reality of underground culture in Cape Town. As Uber’s accompany those who risked the restricted and prohibited acts of jubilant miscreance and late-night adventures back home.
Between Friday and Sunday, while the law struggles to find its eyes, there exists the demons and the social itch. There raves the cry and need for something more in a time when it isn’t allowed. We cannot deny the need we have as people to lose ourselves in drink and celebration of life when every day we are reminded of the quaint mortality of our existence. News headlines decry terror while media outlets get their kicks off woe and tragedy because engagements couldn’t be higher. And while a new day breaks, already the skeleton of a story we see time and time again takes shape – that of human nature and doing that which we are not supposed to.
Squinting at the harsh light of day, I wonder at the nature of this beast – COVID 19. Undoubtedly those born from the ’80s onwards resided in a time of unprecedented world peace. Yet, in the past two years, those freedoms and those liberties have changed. Our generations conflict, our Great Depression and our Great War, is that of Social Depression and the great war for our souls. Prohibition on a level exercised internationally, yet not directly conflictual. We are not sent to the trenches or forced to work camps, we fire no guns and take no enemy combatants; instead, we sit in lockdown after lockdown, told what to do and what not to.
Sure, the golden states of America and nu-world Europe shine a future for congress and social gatherings. However, extreme caution is still prevalent for most of the world as we face increasing COVID variants and concerns over vaccinations. While COVID 19 has been the true global chord struck across the world, it’s with a fair level of brevity that we can expect everything to just “get better”.
“While we adjust, and while society transforms, the need for release is real. For many, it’s the unity of socialising, a drink with friends, making yourself look good and feel good.”
While we adjust, and while society transforms, the need for release is real. For many, it’s the unity of socialising, a drink with friends, making yourself look good and feel good. And while it’s easy to condemn the behaviour of the young or the restless as arrogant or irresponsible, it would be hypocritical to think these things WON’T happen.
It would be convenient if we could say “NO” and it would be so, but it isn’t. And while we enter the grey area of morality, of whether or not to facilitate that which is not legal, the underlying concept of underground culture is intrinsically South African. Stemming from before Apartheid with Dutch resistance against the English, Bantu resistance against the Dutch, being told what to do is not historically what the people of our country and our nature respond well to. We are fiercely independent, and although we have shown unity, cracks have risen un-precedented in our young democracy’s history. Fear, rent, taxes. These went into lockdown with us. Paranoia and mania stand poised to sweep us into fever while we wait for a return to something, anything other than the increasing frustration and anxiety at bills and surviving. In a time when hope should be the weapon of the masses, we are reminded to distance and remain apart. Where once we could unite to rally our fears – now in a time of supposed equality, it has felt like we have never been more divided. The Social Media Gap widens and widens; the spread of information and access to false information mixes in a dangerous blend of spewed rhetoric and cyber battles, tainting all those involved. As Dr King once said, “Hate cannot beat Hate, only love can do that”.
For many, the young see the risk of COVID as an 11-day stint at home and a minor inconvenience. It’s hard to properly see the danger. Yet the teeth of this monster are long and its mouth wide. The rot of its danger is not just COVIDs quick bite, but all the filth that profits off of it. There have been many that have used the fear of the pandemic to benefit themselves.
Because when you’re going to dodgy means to justify the ends, you risk the swarm of dangers that are far more real than COVID. Underground Clubs, run by unaccredited and unestablished event companies, with organisers who have poor industry records that go back years and anybody in the events and cultural industry wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole, should NOT be the events that people go to. However, this cannot happen because, legally, it shouldn’t even be happening, and therefore it cannot be regulated.
Of course, how are you meant to know these parties are even happening unless you are in the ‘exclusive (invite only) Whatsapp’ Group? And this group isn’t exactly going to proclaim: “Hey, we are a bunch of pieces of shit, wanna come party?”. And while there ARE communities and businesses that have nothing but the best intention to create event spaces where people don’t just have a good time, but where they are actually SAFE, these businesses just don’t pull the same level of crowd.
“Because when you’re going to dodgy means to justify the ends, you risk the swarm of dangers that are far more real than COVID.”
The outdated marketing method of over-sexualising women creates the idea that the party is “good” simply because there are many women there. R50 for girls and women or free, while men pay R200 only encourages the worst kind of predator that knows that from 11-4 there will be girls there incentivised by the party and cheap tickets. This reliance on over-sexualising women to make ticket sales and make the party seem “cool”, is archaic. And, most importantly, indicative of a culture that doesn’t respect women or make any attempts to not encourage the prevalent mindsets of GBV in South Africa.
As the afternoon slides past, I smoke a cigarette and further wonder at the situation we find ourselves in. In a few hours it will be the weekend, and I begin to feel the need to go and find some adventure. To get high off the fumes coming from this crazy thing we made, the troubled and overjoyed. I grew up going to underground parties, and while my love for them will always remain, the question we must be asking ourselves is how we find these thrills and how we tread the fine line between need and legality.
There are parties and events being held that need no direct mention. It is these parties that we must stop: the ones that promote all the wrong aspects of what the standard should be. And like most destructive fires, the best way to stop it is to give it no oxygen. Do not support Sus parties by Sus people. We have the power in our hands to determine the music scene we want to see, more and more so in this modern age. Join us by saying ‘NO’ to the parties that jeopardise not just the industry as a whole, but every single person who goes to those parties.
I’m not going to lie to you and tell you not to party at all. Life is meant for living. But watch. Keep your eyes open. And if you see something wrong, stop it. The future is in our hands. And as we go deeper against the grain of the law, our underground culture has to be more cohesive with each other in order to make sure we don’t have poisonous events and parties devastating people’s lives – people who just wanted a little reprieve from the woe we have been facing the last year and 8 months.
These sharks swim in circles, waiting for blood. Don’t give it to them. Let them starve on their own greed.
— — —
For more of our Visceral features, click here.