Dirty Discoby Ashleigh-Jane Denton, images by Adam Kent Wiest / 09.11.2010
The unusual collection of people flowing through The Waiting Room last of last Thursday night was like a beautifully crafted episode of Mean Girls. At the bar were the boys in their collared shirts and square toed shoes, who were only there to get drunk around a big crowd of people. They gave off an awkward out-of-place stink, as if everyone could smell their presence, and looked short, weaving among another group of girls in platforms, wearing feather boas and tiaras. These girls were drinking buckets of vodka and giggling at each other, probably on a birthday or bachelorette jol.
In the far corner there were musicians talking to other artists, and a few fans hovering by trying to get an ingratiating word in. There were some “normal looking people”, as somebody pointed out to me, who hid away trying not to show their age when they found out they were about 7 years too old for what they were about to receive. The balcony outside was the temporary home for hipsters rolling fags and fighting off the uncool, as well as the light drizzle falling from the sky, with their dark raccoon stares and Sex Pistols style. I wasn’t sure if they were there for the music or just because this was The Waiting Room. Upstairs, while they waited for the first performance to start, everyone listened to a blend of old Max Normal and new Popskarr swimming through the speakers, drinking strong drinks on the rocks.
First up, DJ Maramza. Hard and fast beats, like glitchy dance-electro. From the outside it was background music. It was barely noticed when he began and where he ended off. People were constantly shifting between inside and outside, from upstairs to the dance floor. Justice wasn’t served to anyone who didn’t know he was playing. For the few who did, he was the creator of the dance floor and smoothed out the creases in their moods in preparation for Voicetag.
Sometime later, Voicetag member Jus’ Sayin’ echoed words through a microphone mixed with a sound one could call, electronic thug and people herded in like sheep. Voicetag’s unique take on electro-jazz coupled with pure South African rap and rhyme smattered with opinions and political issues (and Fuzzy’s freakish dance moves) make for good entertainment. People danced and laughed and bobbed along to the line “wouldn’t it be fun if I had a gun”. It still plays like a merry-go-round in my head long after the night was over. It’s a pity these guys are so on and off. Maybe they are just too ambitious and haven’t been able to wrap their minds around how rad their music really is. Their set was well rehearsed and each guy looked like he was having fun and the audience duly obeyed. It was especially cool when ‘Mr. Expensive Drinks’ (Sedge Warbler’s Disco) got invited onto staged and free-styled for a bit.
Next up was JHB-based duo Dirty Paraffin. Tipped as the next big thing up North, down South they are practically unknown. Only a small cult following of people jumped around and dripped sweat all over the dance floor while chanting “boomslang” a couple hundred times. Snake! Their jumble of kwaito, hip hop and dance was put together so elegantly, and seeing that a core group of people already knew their lyrics and were happy to jump around at their feet, despite the resistance of the stand-offish crowd, the beats were infectious and the dancing never stopped. Not once!
Lastly Sedge Warbler. To describe them, you could say they are either the incestuous brother or the love child (one could never tell) of P.H PHAT and some bourgeois Southern Suburbs trash mom. I imagined them both getting completely fucked and banging till their knees gave in… and Sedge Warbler was born, kicking and squeaking funny noises, as Disco does. There were times when I thought that a P.H PHAT song was about to play, as though almost every intro had the “We Love Animals” beat to it. But Disco changed it up; keeping the sticky electro-pop beat that whip-lashed the dance floors, making it sting with fast lyrics and an even faster rhyming choruses. Disco had an action for every word that he sung; cock-thrusting every time he said the word “fuck” and pointed to his face. Their set was most pleasing, the dance floor was packed. I found myself satisfied with what they brought, especially while people sang back once he repeated the “fuck-face” line twenty times over.
By the end of the set people started fading out quickly, but the hipsters stayed, swayed, some not even aware the live music was over. Walking down the narrow stairs, trying not to fall, and then out into the cold Long Street air, it hit me, like the feeling after a good meal.
All images © Adam Kent Wiest.