His Granny’s Houseby Nadine Theron, images by Justin McGee / 21.10.2010
During the day, 1072 Schoeman street is a middle class house with wooden floors, three bedrooms, a little kitchen, bathroom and lounge. But at night dark characters scrawl their names on the wall, mad electro DJ’s cook up noise in the kitchen and the back yard is filled with a crowd like Pretoria punch – tasty and meek at first, you never know what’s in there, but you can be sure it will lead to the destruction of your reputation!
Pretorians have always been proud about not having “a scene”. Liam Lynch once wrote about how Pretoria people are more eager “to be heard and not seen”. Hotbox changed that. Hotbox is the Pretoria scene. They’re grotesque house parties best compared to the ones in Skins, that smart raunchy British series.
Hotbox Studios cc. is owned by Henk & Willie van der Schyf and Chris Rautenbach. It all began in 2009. Willie was in his 5th year studying law at Tuks and, like most 5th year students, nie meer lus nie. He and Henk met Chris, who studied music production, in res. As an alternative to becoming career men, they decided to turn their grandma’s stately old house in suburban Hatfield into a recording studio.
Here’s a rough Hotbox timeline. Henk tells the story…
April 2009: Launch party of Hotbox Studios with Tidal Waves.
“It was a financial fuckup,” he says. “ The bar was horrible.”
“But people asked us if we’re gonna keep it going, they saw the potential. So we decided to have a party once a month, getting a temporary liquor license every time because my gran doesn’t want us to have a permanent one!”
May 2009: Die Heuwels Fantasies acoustic.
“There were about 800 people. People sat on the roof and around the band on the stage. It was like in the Bible. It was the show that got us ‘out there’.”
June 2009: Haezer in the kitchen.
It was Haezer’s first tour of Gauteng with Griet. He played at Tings ‘n Times where Johan Auriacombe (Griet and Kidofdoom) asked Henk if Haezer can play Hotbox for R500.
“It was kak. No-one came and we lost a shitload of money. Eventually the sound guys started packing up and we still couldn’t even pay Haezer. So we fetched the Sanyo hi-fi from someone’s room and Haezer had a midi-controller and his Mac. With that, he played in the kitchen. That’s how it all started. We didn’t even advertise it.”
2 September 2009: Sonop Spring Day After Party.
“We announced on Facebook that we’ll be having an after party at Hotbox like the day before and I booked Sassquatch. We put him in the kitchen again and it went well. The week after, Joe and I discussed Dogbox in the kitchen.”
The name was obvious. Griet’s logo is a dog and well the “box” part, come on!
October 2009: Dogbox Launch. (Griet + Hotbox)
The launch coincided with Henk’ birthday and R5 punch was the drink du-jour. It was also the night the Steam Room opened: A graphitized garage room shop run by Mischa Els selling clothes and accessories from local designers.
31 October 2009: Halloween – The Humans are Dead with Kidofdoom, Yesterday’s Pupil, Sticky Antlers, Haezer and others.
A make-shift tunnel of horror led the way into some local art students’ recreation of their nightmares.
“That night, around 2am-3am the sound people were leaving but the party was still pumping. We moved Haezer to the kitchen again but this time he blew the PA!”
With Dogbox and Halloween they started working with Griet.
“That was the beginning of a very good relationship.”
21 November: Jack Parow.
“Someone stole his custom-made cap. It was shit because he had a shoot the next day.”
“I actually know who stole it,” Henk snorts. “It was this midget guy!”
January 2010: Foam party.
“The greatest party we’ve had so far. Joe convinced Willie that the foam won’t destroy the grass but it did. To this day the lawn hasn’t recovered. It was also the first night I played as Dr. Khumalo and my first track was Fat Boy Slim’s “Right Here, Right Now”. I faded it perfectly into the second track, Kidofdoom’s Sociallight. Matt Suttner played, Moe Joe vs. Peter Rodda had their first Drum ‘n Bass set and that’s where we met the people from Mahala.”
19 February 2010: Johnny Foreigner (UK) with Isochronous and Wrestlerish.
“It was our first international act and the show was awesome, people fucked out and moshed and shit.”
MK even made a mini-documentary about the event.
March 2010: Railway to Ramfest.
A brain-wave which offered festival goers from Gauteng a party-train ride from Joburg to Ramfest filled with cool people, substance abuse and band members who included Johnny Foreigner, Cutout Collective, Peach from Yesterday’s Pupil, Sassquatch, Facing the Gallows, The Monroes and Tidal Waves, as well as, you guessed it, Mahala.
“We started planning it already in November. It was me and Johan but he got very busy with the electro stage Griet had at Ramfest. I just contacted Transnet and spoke to Beauty Langa and hooked it up. “
“We occupied the last three trucks and the two in front were rented by Carpe Diem, a group of recovering alcoholics. They partied with us even though they weren’t drinking. Ramfest was the best festival of my life. The electro stage was awesome. Because people from Pretoria decorated it I felt right at home.”
March 2010: Dogbox tour Rock Room Stellenbosch.
Moe Joe, Dr. Khumalo and Haezer played the tiny venue into a frenzy and abused the smoke machine until you couldn’t see your hand in front of you. “But”, he says, “we’re not gonna do Dogbox at Rock Room anymore, it was fun but not financially viable.”
6 March 2010: Lark
“It’ the act I’ve been the proudest to host.”
17 April 2010: Van Coke Kartel Skop, Skiet en Donner launch with Peach van Pletzen from Yesterday’s Pupil.
“Peach always opens at Hotbox. We are very proud of him and that he’s from Pretoria. It was a great show, it sold out. The people moshed too hard, then speaker tops slet neer in the crowd and I tried to pick them up but the people just kept on moshing.”
15 May 2010: Hotbox Birthday with Tidal Waves, Tumi, Voodoo Child and the Pitch Black Cadillacs.
“Pitch Black Cadillacs have since broken up but they were the first band in the studio.”
May 2010: Cyberpunkers (Italy) Dogbox’s Rooftop.
“We arranged to have the rooftop of 339 Hilda Chambers, Pretoria CBD. It was the day I learnt the lesson of 3-phase electricity. Any legit venue should have it. We were doomed from the start. I told the landlord it will be about 200 guests but 600 pitched up. It was a big building and the power tripped out. We had to strip the PA to only four speakers and six lights. It was the first international Dogbox and, as usual, everyone said that Haezer kicked more ass then the international headline act.”
28 May 2010: Curse of Monkey Island with Desmond and the Tutu’s, PH Phat, Isochronous and others. (Hotbox+Griet+Havana Club Rum).
Caribbean-horror themed party at the Capitol Theatre, a colossal heritage hall on Church square, where the Voortrekkers first congregated for nagmaal once a month.
“It was our first corporate function.”
26 August 2010: Le Castle Vania (USA) with Haezer. (Dogbox + Discotheque).
“Around 850 people attended, it was our biggest show. Nathan Scott Phillips opened and Double Adapter played. They’re the best up-and-coming DJ’s in the country, by the way. It was just after Oppikoppi so the hype about Haezer was still hectic. Dit was ’n belaglike show.
During Haezer’s set they received their first neighbor-complaint. So far they’ve been lucky that it’s been the only one.
15 October 2010: Dogbox Birthday.
The organizers asked people to write their favourite Dogbox stories on its Facebook wall. The best one has got to be Willie’s:
“Standing naked with a topless girl in a secluded corner of the rooftop party, swinging my dick around and shouting Whoo-hoooo!!! And I was sober,” he wrote.
Birthday cake, Raspberry Rum, Lasers and Steri Stumpie marked the celebrations.
“Maybe it’s a special cake?” Henk hints. Maria Ferreira (Joe’s girlfriend) baked them a 60cmx 60cm cake, intricately decorated and weighing in at 8kgs.
*All images © Justin McGee.
**To download Moe Joe’s Dogbox birthday mini-mix, click here.
***Next up for Hotbox is Halloween with St. Pauli (Germany) at the Capitol Theatre again. It will be Kidofdoom’s first show since Ramfest and a horror tunnel, a cave and photo booth will add to the madness.