Durban is planking on talent
A few weeks ago I almost went out on a date. I had been saving the finest pair of socks in my drawer all week and had starched my Sunday Pringle for a night out in the town. My plans for the evening included catching a taxi at four O’clock from the busy and Dusty streets of the English market all the way to the heels of white Surbabia in Glenwood. I would have paid the taxi driver R6 and flashed him a smile that said “be proud of me I didnt bring R100, so you don’t have to worry about change”.
I would have walked across Bartle Road to the Rhumbelow theatre and there waiting for me would have been a nice little twenty something stekie from Umlazi. She loves Pavarotti and wears All Stars—she is a keeper. We would have spent the rest of the evening listening and chuclking away at Glen Bo, Jem Atkins, Dusty Rich and Gareth Woods. As they deliver their verite style of humor like only they can.
It’s the Durban comedy invasion so it’s bound to be funny. After the show I would have walked my companion to the taxi stop and on the way given her the “Superman dialogue” from Kill Bill. I had it all planed, it was perfect. All I needed now was some mouth wash and aftershave and I would be all set.
An hour later after returning form the local Pick N Pay I was forced to concede defeat.
No, my date had not cancelled something much much worse had happed.
Whilst I was out the PR people from the Rhumbelow had decided to ambush me with an email telling me that I could not come to the show. At first I thought it was another plot to keep a black man away from a show with an all white line up. The race card was well out of my pocket and neo-Nazi adjectives were quickly sprouting about in my head.
I wish my spamware could block bad news.
As I read on I did however find out that I was wrong, white power was not the reason why these people were raining on my parade. Only six people had booked to attend the invasion that night. Yes you read that correctly six, that is the same number of beers that you bummed of your friends when you took that half pack at Splashy.
I immediately start saying a silent prayer apologizing to the AWB gods for wrongfully accusing them this time. And then I ask myself WHAT HAPPANED TO DURBAN? For a place that was once called South Africa’s playground we sure have gone to the dumps. As David Kibuuka would say “This place is Shit Loy”. I knew when the city lost its Blue Flag status a few years ago that things would go bad but even a natural born pessimist like myself could not have predicted this.
The alternative lifestyle scene in Durban is certainly in bad shape and would do well to act like a Martini and shake things up. Now admittedly Glen Bo, Jem Atkins, Dusty Rich and Gareth Woods are certainly not the original kings of comedy by any measure but still they are not a bad way to spend a Sunday night. In fact their subsequent staging of the same show in Grahamstown was sold out (for four nights and I was amongst those giggling in the audience)
So why then have the people of Durban decided not to show their support? I’m not Dr Phil so how should I know? But if there are some observations I have made as a prolific event hopper who media passes his way through the strangest of places, I can honestly say that Durban is not all that its said to be. If I read one more Durban newspaper telling me about how the Durban cultural scene is Bourgeoning I am certainly going to lose my sanity.
As one of the people who are witnessing live from the frontlines the static currently gripping this city I would implore all of my peers to wake up and smell the dagga or the Wonga or whatever they have been smoking over the last few years.
Whilst we were sleeping the nightlife in the city has been on decline. That’s why I was silently irked last year when I was visiting at Rhodes and a former Durbanite asked me “why do you still live in Durban? Nothing ever happens there”. A person from Grahamstown thinks Durban sucks Grahamstown nogal! eish this is a kick in the family jewels.
But this kind of attitude is now common place amongst our contemporaries in Cape Town, Jozi and other parts of the mzansi. What makes the whole affair quite disgusting is that we are not failing by lack of talent. Bands like Fruits and Veggies and Danti Taxi have come from here, young poets like Mxolisi Mtshali and Busisiwa Gqulu are making waves in stages all over the country. Meanwhile we sit and twiddle our thumbs like good little boys and girls. I suppose a decline in standards is to be expected when you leave the cultural life of a city to Middle class suit wearing types who can’t tell a sonnet from a sonata.
I swear if another Pitbull or Jay Sean does not come here ever again it will be too soon. Although I think this years has seen more isolated pockets of success it certainly does not measure up to the happenings around the country. Every time I see a KIF gig review on Mahala it makes me want to cry, hell even U2 gave us the finger. And Zarfest wanted nothing to do with us.
I don’t know everything that Durban has but certainly I can tell you one thing that it doesn’t at the moment. In the grand scheme of things a lot of people lack entrepreneurial thinking . clichés like the “it factor” and “thinking outside the box” immediately come to mind.
How can we fix this?, hmmmmmmmmmmm I would propose a revolution but the Middle East has used up the revolution quota for the year and Frankly I don’t feel like running though the streets of Durban on a summer night with a placard around my neck screaming SAVE THE ARTS. Maybe its amore feasible plan to kidnap some peeps from Cape Town and Jozi and have them inject some life and other substances into the lifeblood of this city. But even that would be a hard do considering that no one might even bother to show up for the binge. Gosh occasionally Durban sucks!