A Night in the ‘Burg

I went out of town this weekend. Not too far out, but it felt like another planet.

The town of my destination: Boksburg

I used to party in the East Rand a lot. But it was a long time ago and I have vague memories of those times because I was constantly drunk. That was seven years ago. Not much has changed: they still know how to put away a few out there. The only difference is that I’m not so good at that anymore.

But I wanted to spend time with Mad Laura and I promised I would, so I trekked through the maze that is the Gauteng highway system on a rainy Saturday. Laura is awesome, her family rock and meeting them and the usual small talk was very pleasant. But I wasn’t there to bond with her family, I was there to party. And Laura, freshly single, was up for it too.

Being close to the airport, you are allowed to start drinking at any time, because the Boeings do their thing all day long. And you can’t really be uncertain about it because they come in so low, tall people can touch them. But Laura at least works in Johannesburg so she can wait until the sun sets.

The venue of our night out: Cool Runnings, right on the border or Benoni and Boksburg, so I was deep in the East.

This branch was hosting some Afrikaans band. The direct translation is either ‘Sun Stroke’ or ‘Sun Shag’. So it was packed. Laura did an amazing parking manouver (confirmed: some women can park) and we battled our way in to find a table. But it was a rugby night too, so there was no space anywhere. Eventually we found a counter that was available and sat on that. Savage: but when in Rome and all of that.

And just like back in the day, there were young things everywhere, drinking heavily. They are even younger now. I know that some of the kids I saw were only about 14. But no one asks for ID in the East. And no one stops you from smoking inside the building either.

At some point someone brought me a shooter that was disgusting, strong and a major contributer to today’s hangover. A bit later there was tequila. At that point I was flirting with a young thing and he gave me advice on how to take it. In what universe does a 21 year old know more about drinking tequila than retired pro? In the freaking East Rand is where.

I lost interest in Jail Bait shortly after. At 21, men are still very silly and have no idea how to work a woman. But I guess men are actually really silly and have no idea how to work a woman. But to all the boys out there, if you are lucky enough to have a woman pay attention to you, don’t tell her about all the numbers you collected so far that week. And if you’re lucky enough to have a shot with an older woman, don’t tell her how to drink tequila.

I got pretty hammered and I did have fun. I’ve been invited back – but I’ll have to get over this tour first.

While driving back to civilisation I couldn’t help notice how the East Rand feels a lot like Free State towns. Advertising consists of notices on shop windows and company names painted on walls. There are no billboards, and if I wasn’t enjoying my Billy Idol CD so much, I probably would have found that there is no radio either. It even looks a lot like a Free State town. Until you get to the mall. That looks urban. The East Rand does not have many trees.  The ones that stand around look too deliberate and awkward. There are a lot of 4×4’s, but unlike those in Sandton, these look like they have been used. And I saw Toyota Hilux’s, the signature car of the Free State – so for a moment I felt confused because I could have been driving through Frankfort.

I was delighted to see the Bingo hall is still in business. And all of a sudden I was in familiar territory and felt nostalgic until I remembered my head hurt. The clubs are still in the same places, the businesses haven’t moved. It looks exactly the way it did in 2003. And that’s how life moves in the East. You club as a youngster and play Bingo when you age. Oh yeah, they know how to live it up back there.

It’s good to be back in the city.

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A Night in the ‘Burg

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