Dubbed as the Monte Marte of South Africa, Melville plays host to one of the biggest, most varied, most eclectic street festivals in Johannesburg every year in June.
This year, the Fête de la Musique showcased some of South Africa’s hottest new talent as well as honouring some of the more longstanding musos. Kicking off the festival was the loud and vibrant The Giant Match puppet company marching down the main road (which was closed for the day) – this lead to an impromptu parade through the main street as excited festival-goers danced and jived behind them. Apart from not charging an entrance fee, this festival was literally a free for all – anyone and everyone emerged from their usual Saturday dwellings and joined arms to celebrate the unique diversity that Melville has to offer. If you didn’t see a dog walking proud with its little chest sticking out, you were privy to the delighted screams of kids basking in the joy of the many street performers and giant puppets abound.
Other highlights included the Achimota Marimba Band, JOZI, The Fly Chix as well as the formidable Mahotella Queens. These three black ladies (women really, seeing as how they are part of South Africa’s heritage by now) delivered such a dazzling performance in front of the Nuno’s cafe that the crowd had to literally stand on top of each other to catch a glimpse of the local legends.
At sundown Bongeziwe Mabadla welcomed the magic hour as he crooned soulful melodies that spoke of ancient indigenous Xhosa customs. The cool evening breeze, along with Bongi’s (as he is known to his friends) romantic chords was a great excuse for people to move a little closer to their husbands, girlfriends, prospective partners and, or dogs.
Bidding the daytime activities farewell, the surrounding clubs started getting ready for some serious partying, hauling in fresh stock of beer (en mass), wine and everything else your mind could conjure up. PS – the chocolate martinis at Six only slightly trumps the basil martinis at Berlin – be sure to test them both when you get the chance.
And just when I thought things were winding down, dragging my sore-from-dancing-too-much feet to one of the many cabs that were hanging around, a full-blown bagpipe band (with over thirty men in traditional kilts) marched past me to the top of the hill, saluting the moon and a day spent listening, eating, feasting and flirting.