Nightlife in Johannesburg is lively and dynamic. From shebeens and pubs to fancy cocktail lounges and clubs, the city has something for everyone. Melville is one of the most popular areas: there are dozens of little bars around Seventh Street. More affluent party animals favour Rosebank, Norwood, Rivonia and Orange Grove, while in the Central Business District, Newtown is a big draw.
Culture in Johannesburg ranges from small projects and artistic developments to comedy acts, large-scale operas, art exhibitions, intimate theatre performances and poetry readings. For listings, consult the Tonight supplement of the city’s main daily newspaper, The Star (www.tonight.co.za), or visit www.702.co.za.
Tickets to cultural events are available from Computicket (tel: (011) 340 8000 or 083 915 8000; www.computicket.com), the national reservations system, which also has kiosks in the larger shopping malls.
In Melville, Catz Pajamas is a 24-hour restaurant and pub housed in an old building with an iron balcony where you can watch the sun come up over breakfast after a night’s partying. From insomniacs to fashionistas, it has big appeal.
Tel: (011) 726 8596.
Radium Beer Hall
One of the city’s oldest bars. The Radium Beer Hall started life as a tea room in 1929, was converted to a beer hall in 1944 and has never looked back. The long bar is the original bar from the Ferreirastown Hotel from the early mining days. Decorated in vintage posters and press clippings, it has a great ambience.
282 Louis Botha Avenue, Orange Grove
Tel: (011) 728 3866.
Also in Rosebank in the mall attached to the Park Hyatt, Katzy’s is very popular with the northern suburbs affluent residents and offers fat sofas, chunky bricks, soft blues music and a top-of-the-range selection of cigars, cognacs and whiskies. The adjoining Grillhouse restaurant specialising in steaks adds to its allure.
The Firs, Hyatt Shopping Centre, Oxford Road
Tel: (011) 880 3945.
This is a trendy piazza-style complex with a number of fashionable places to eat and drink.Try the stylish bar in the Melrose Arch Hotel with its stylish dark wood bar, leather armchairs and unique modern African décor.
Corlett Drive, Melrose
Clubs in Johannesburg
Melville has its fair share of trendy nightclubs. Tokyo Star is decorated in Japanese pop culture décor and sushi is available.
Fourth Avenue, Melville
Tel: (072) 478 2592.
This is one of Soweto’s trendiest clubs, which again features kwaito and jazz, a large bar, roof deck and dance floor.
1987 Vundla Street, Rockville
Tel: (011) 986 8182.
One of the favoured venues for raves are Reality which has three dance floors and offers a blend of hip hop, house and drum’n’bass.
248 Jeppe Street
In Newtown, the Horror Café is decorated with horror movie memorabilia and plays African music including the infectious kwaito at the weekends. The lusty lyrics and irresistible dance beats of kwaito can be heard blasting out of taxis, clubs, shebeens and street parties throughout Johannesburg. The genre uses local languages and street slang in lyrics that reflect life in South Africa and employs a distinct South African style of dancing and dressing.
15 Miriam Makeba Street
The Bassline is one of the most popular jazz and blues venues in Johannesburg, hosting great local live bands.
Newtown Music Hall in Newtown
The Songwriter’s Club
Also in Newtown, The Songwriter’s Club hosts up-and-coming musicians including township hip-hop artists.
Rosebank has the best jazz and blues venue in town, the Blues Room in the Village Walk complex.
Tel: (011) 784 5527.
Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre
Owned by the great impresario who gave it his name, this theatre gives both new and established artistes opportunities for new directions and growth. The complex includes a 1,900-seater theatre.
Shop 65, Montecasino Boulevard, Fourways
Tel: (011) 511 1818.
Market Theatre Company
Since 1976 and the days of protest theatre, the Market Theatre Company has gained a reputation for putting on productions that are socially relevant.
121 Bree Street, Newtown
Tel: (011) 832 1641.
This hosts a huge range of international and local performers, often mixing classical and ethnic styles.
President Street, Newtown Cultural Precinct
Tel: (011) 833 1347.
Civic Theatre Complex
This complex comprises the Nelson Mandela Theatre (formerly Civic Main), Tesson, Thabong and Pieter Roos theatres and an art gallery. Shows are mainly local productions, musicals, ballet, comedy and pantomime (when in season). The incredibly powerful 26-strong Soweto Gospel Choir regularly play here too.
Loveday Street, Braamfontein
Tel: (011) 877 6800.