Prideby Ts'eliso Monaheng / 09.10.2013
I became aware of the dance group V.I.N.T.A.G.E’s existence through Zaki Ibrahim’s Zandi Tisani-directed video, “Go widdit“. Wild, engaging, and ethereal, they possessed a magnetism which cut through the screen and held the viewer in a chokehold. It wasn’t until I had to interview them prior to Redbull’s Beat Battle this year that I made the connection: the dancers in Mafikizolo’s “Kona” – a continent-wide hit by now – and the Zaki video are one and the same.
V.I.N.T.A.G.E’s work ethic is relentless; they maintain a gruelling practice schedule, perform increasingly complex, layered dance routines, and constantly seek to discover and present the ‘new newness’. Yet without transportation of their own, the crew has to rely on public transport to get around Johannesburg – a complex process in and of itself.
It was with trepidation that I opened a link sent via e-mail this past Thursday morning; V.I.N.T.A.G.E had been attacked over the weekend at Bree Taxi rank in Johannesburg’s CBD.
“They were saying that they were irritated by gay people. They were asking why we always have to be like this and dress like this.”, said the group’s spokesperson Ashwin in an interview with Mambaonline. Though nowhere near the complete squalor, dirt and decay of its cousin Noord in Hillbrow, Bree has its own dark tales, often told between gasps for fresh air amidst the stench of its dimly-lit underground platforms. Mambaonline further reports that the national HIV/AIDS prevention NGO loveLife had been collaborating with V.I.N.T.A.G.E to combat homophobia and gender-based violence. This is part of the statement they released following the incident:
“loveLife is disturbed by news that dance group V.I.N.T.A.G.E were attacked at Bree Taxi Rank (Johannesburg) after their performance at Soweto Pride last Saturday. As National Transportation Month kicks off this month, the organization finds the attack shocking given that the Gauteng government is driving people to make use of public transport.”
A friend was in town a few weeks ago. Besides being shown around, he wanted to interview the dancers for the Africasacountry blog. I offered to come along and take pictures, to which he agreed. I managed to take footage of the members tackling some thorny questions we both posed. “I think Vintage Cru are my new favourite group of people” I tweeted later that day. “Such sharp minds; very forward-thinking and extremely driven!”, Below is a video containing a few excerpts which provide some insight into how they think. “I never went to school with black people” explains founding member Lee-ché in one instance. Watch on to see what else they have to say.
* Video credits: interview by Zachary Rosen, shot & edited by Ts’eliso Monaheng