First Thursdays are a wonderful excuse to immerse yourself in the pulse of your city’s art scene, bars, and restaurants. But it can be overwhelming to navigate the wealth of options available on these abundantly busy evenings – and it’s important not to spoil your excursion because you’re spoilt for choice. We’ve tried our hand at breaking down your itinerary this First Thursday in Johannesburg; take it all in, and do your best to forget that you’ve got work tomorrow.
CHOOSE YOUR LOCATION
Pros and cons: Braamfontein is at the heart of Johannesburg proper, and there is something organically vibrant about the galleries and bars in and around this area, which other locations lack. But it’s comparatively bereft of restaurants, and it can feel like a less cohesive experience than the one on offer at the Keyes Art Mile, depending on the night in question.
Grab a drink at: Kitchener’s: because it’s the best, even when it’s really, really busy.
Go and see: The Africa Express showcase at The Tennis Club. In addition to a wealth of exceptional local talent, Nick Zinner, the guitarist of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, is going to be there. Buy a ticket from the Kalashnikov gallery –the tennis club’s not in Braam, but this is definitely worth the short drive.
Have dinner at: The Immigrant: it’s a bar, but the food is fresh and delicious – and so is the atmosphere.
Pros and cons: The Keyes Art Mile in Rosebank is laden with galleries and good food vendors, and First Thursday here somehow feels more organised and accessible than its Braam counterpart. On the other hand, though, it can get unbearably busy and claustrophobic on these evenings; and there’s something sadly canned, whitewashed, and suburban about Rosebank, relative to Braamfontein.
Grab a drink at: Circa Gallery, where there’s usually an excellent gin-cocktail on offer.
Go and see: Wallen Mapondera’s exhibition at Smac gallery. The Zimbabwe-born artist is debuting a series of sculptural collages, which sound very much of the moment in light of Zimbabwe’s present situation.
Have dinner at: Saigon Suzy. This Asian-inspired restaurant features a range of dishes from Thailand, Vietnam, China, Korea, and Japan – escape to the beer garden in the back if the weather’s nice. Order the Ramen if you’re hungry, or several smaller dishes to share; and ensure that you sample one of their unique cocktails. It’s likely to get very busy, though, so book in advance if you can.