Ice Cold Chickenby Roger Young, images JR Onyangunga / 15.04.2011
“White chicks are flimsy,” she says to the Jewish kid with the hickey. He’s glowing in the late afternoon sun. “That’s my girl there,” he indicates down past the braais and garden furniture to the caramel girl with dreadlocks, ass dropping to the bass heavy beats on the dancefloor. This other girl, big in every sense of the word, personality, height, breasts, braids (well, big as in a lot but skinny) looks at him and says, “Yeah, she’s fucking hot.” Her frizzy-haired friend says, “Yo, I know plenty of flimsy black chicks.” The Jewish kid says, “Anyone got any marijuana?” Frizzy looks back at him and me, “Ja, let’s find some weed.” The big girl says, “Let’s smoke marijuana and fuck”. And they disappear into the ageless swirls of bass heads, dreads, rockers, posers, activists, stoners, jazz freaks, all heading toward either the pool table or a conversation about a collaboration or the bar or the dance floor or a boy or a girl but all with youthful hope for some kind of bliss.
Cold Turkey started the day after Christmas last year as a once off thing for people who had nowhere to go on the day and, in four short months, has grown into a chilled post weekend intersection of the hard partying aspects of many of Cape Town’s disparate social scenes. It starts off early, like 3-ish, every second Sunday at the District Six Café at the outer edge of the city proper. You come down from the Parade and walk past some of the low rent upstairs hotel dwellers sitting on the pavement (they will either be fighting or bumming cigarettes from you later). You enter through a small-ish bar area, past some couches and a pool table and then out into a large outside terraced area that looks like the ultimate rockery from a seventies sitcom set in Randpark Ridge. Braais are cooking up on the top level while down by the once bar DJ’s pump out bass heavy but chilled anything from dubstep to trip hop.
Two guys with Kid ‘n Play lite hair are standing under an umbrella, leaning back and surveying this dude who’s trying to start up the dance floor. “We could do a National Geographic on this shit,” says the one guy as the dance floor guy flaps his arms and attempts to fill up space. “Yeah man, like, the white man out of his depth in the jungle.” Suddenly the music steps over to some kind of glitch, the dance floor dude goes low. “Yoh!” says guy number one. “He’s actually doing pretty well, let’s cheer a brother on.” But they wander off to the braais to see if their meat is done. Up near the top back garden where the greying activists stand in circles with their children, Fuzzy Slippers and Big Space are watching a semi-naked man climb through a window of the hotel and down toward the party. I wander out front to buy airtime to respond to a booty (hopefully) call me and get in a conversation about the universe providing with the Rasta in the spaza. It’s disjointed and beautiful; this whole thing.
“Please don’t write about us” says Il Duce, one of Cold Turkey’s initiators, “This scene is so chilled but you know, not really defined and if you write about it might sound lame. And that might make it lame.”
“Buy me a quart and we’re all good,” I say. But she can only get me a Castle because it’s nearly sunset and the Label always runs out early at Cold Turks. This is generally the moment when people start to hanker after weed. I never know why they come after me. Whether it’s the general relaxed cross scene post party whatever headspace or some kind of legacy of D6 itself, Cold Turk’s music selection is as diverse as its patrons. It can veer from dubstep to S’gubu, electroclash to glitch; the DJ’s (Blotchy and RebelClef are the residents but Cold Turkey has featured Ninja Tunes’ Ghislain Poirier, Ruckspin, 7ft Soundsystem, Remy Gold, Funafuji, Ish, Card on Spokes, Mix n Blend, Miss H, Hyphen, Richard the Third, Dank and Fletcher) generally have more freedom to play a more varied set than they’re used to. The pre sunset sets are generally downtempo but when the dark kicks in it gets messy.
When the braais have died out, the weed has been found and everyone has settled for Castle, the dance floor becomes the focus. Lit, if at all, only by streetlight and reflections of the bread shaped building opposite, shit starts to get deep. The networking and the flirting has stopped, kids are hooking up, Audiophile is laying down some knee breaking bass and we’re all dancing. Someone has discovered that there is no shot glass and the tequila’s are big and flowing. The toilet queue in the back room area is a friendly mess of conversation and missed connections. I hand someone cash to get me a beer, I can’t be arsed to leave the floor, I need to keep my ass low and my hands up, preferably with a quart in one of them. He comes back, “They out of beer! There’s only vodka at the bar.” It’s like a standard signal, Cold Turks is winding down, it must be near nine o’clock. It’s Sunday, it’s time to head out. I see Marijuana-and-Fuck girl outside and try get her into a taxi, the Frizzy one pulls her away. I drive off into the night shouting, “Fuck you, I’m going home to masturbate to pictures of Ndebele girls making pottery”.
*All images © JR Onyangunga.