Craig Stack from nightlife and entertainment website MyCityByNight gives the low-down on an annual event that has become the preferred destination for electronica local and international enthusiasts.
The Cape Town Electronic Music Festival (CTEMF) is an annual inner city electronic music festival that brings together Cape Town’s diverse party scenes with a lineup that includes the full spectrum of electronic dance music, from techno to house, gqom, hip-hop, electronica and more.
What makes this festival all the more special is that it is not just a showcase of local talent. CTEMF also focuses on providing a platform for international and local acts to share the stage – their knowledge of and passion for music – through a series of workshops in the lead-up to the core festival.
Apart from being the premier local, inner city music festival, CTEMF is renowned for consistently curating a world class lineup of local DJ and acts that draws music lovers and party people from all walks of life across South Africa.
The production value of the festival always exceeds expectations.
CTEMF is an education in electronic music – an audio visual experience that’ll leave you wanting more.
If you’re looking for a laid-back night out in Cape Town, these clubs have a very relaxed dress code.
Looking for a place to kick back, have a beer and listen to some good music without having to get all dressed up? Visit The Village Idiot on Loop Street in your jeans and t-shirt for a relaxing meal and cocktail in one of their stylish leather booths, or on the wrap-around balcony.
Sgt Pepper Eatery on Long Street is known for its exceptional pizzas and weekend buzz, featuring underground DJs spinning the best in classic rock, commercial and indie music. Expect smoke, noise and general rowdiness. Remember that these clubs cater primarily to students and casual clubbers, so be prepared.
Make your way to The Waiting Room on bustling Long Street, above Royale Eatery, for a relaxed evening on the balcony overlooking the city lights, or inside on the comfy couches listening to a mixture of hip-hop, break beats or funk, depending upon the music style of the night.
Afterward, hop across the road to bars Jo’burg and Marvel, where you’ll experience the best in central African music that pumps until 04h00 with a bunch of locals all looking to have a good time, no matter what you’re wearing.
If you find yourself emerged to the hips in a slow-flowing river while grooving to the funk-ska sounds of a live band playing on the riverbank, you’d better drink that experience in, as Up the Creek comes round but once a year.
Just about two hours’ drive from Cape Town (plus a short dirt road slicing through lush farmlands), about 2 000 “Creekers” converge on the banks of the Breede River in the high time of summer (usually late January or early February) for Up the Creek – one of the smaller offerings on the South African festival calender. However, the intimacy and freedom of movement found at this festival are but two of many, many good reasons music lovers from Cape Town and all over South Africa keep returning to experience the delight of Up the Creek.
Though excellent line-ups of rockers, DJ’s and mellow one-man acoustic acts continually ensure there’s no lack of quality music (several food stalls and bars take care of the other needs), the highlight of Up the Creek is without doubt the mornings and afternoons spent in the river. Nothing quite compares to that feeling of splashing your fists furiously into the water – to indicate applause, you see – while the most colourful and creative floatables (I’ve even seen an active barbeque station drifting around, operated as if it’s the most natural thing in the world) add to the festival character unique to Up the Creek.
Swimming attire is a must if you’re heading to Up the Creek … though not compulsory if you’ll be one of the many “Creekers” indulging in a late-night river dip.
After a day languishing in the sun and sea Camps Bay beach, head over to one of these venues for a sundowner and relaxed entertainment before changing gears into full party mode.
The Grand Café & Room boasts a breath-taking view mere metres from the beach, featuring ambient electronic music from a variety of guest DJs. You’re guaranteed a mood-appropriate playlist as you sip on fancy cocktails and enjoy a delicious dinner. The party winds up the further the sun sets below the horizon and the venue features a private penthouse suite if you’re keen for an overnight stay. There is an air of sophistication to the space without losing the relaxed nature of the beach aesthetic.
Café Caprice is the trendy, popular, not-to-be-missed venue in Camps Bay. The clientele are accustomed to a wealthy lifestyle and this venue reflects that. Signature cocktails and premium liquor are the drinks of choice, with VIP tables and bottle service upon request. The venue is open from Monday to Sunday with DJs spinning house, lounge and commercial music on weekend nights.
If you want to party like a local without any pretence or dress code, Dizzy’s Café is the answer. Dizzy’s is well-known for their pizzas and they have a fully licensed restaurant, pub and non-smoking lounge, making it the perfect place to eat, drink and play. You can live out your pop star dreams on karaoke nights or attend one of their themed parties (minimal cover charge).
Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront can provide a full day of entertainment for visitors of all ages – and the free live music shows is one of their greatest drawcards
A favoured shopping and dining destination for Cape Town locals and visitors alike, the V&A Waterfront also draws in the crowds by regularly showcasing the country’s top live musical acts.
Set against the splendid backdrop of Table Mountain and overlooking the bustling docks, The Amphitheatre at the V&A Waterfront plays host to musical artists from genres as diverse as classical and jazz to pop and rock!
From general entertainment for all ages to a full day’s schedule of children’s activities during school holidays, there’s always a great mixture of entertainment happening at the Amphitheatre.
In winter, the open-air amphitheatre is covered in a Bedouin tent to offer protection against the elements and ensure maximum comfort for patrons as they kick off their relaxing Friday jazz concerts, featuring a variety of local jazz legends.
Come summer, the tent is packed away and you’re advised to bring a hat and sunscreen to filter out the sun while thrilling to afternoon concerts featuring some of the most popular acts in Cape Town.
There is always something happening at the V&A Waterfront Amphitheatre so make sure you check out the Event Calender for regular updates.
Fancy an imported cigar or a refreshing cocktail against the backdrop of some sexy Latin grooves? Then these clubs are just for you.
Cubana has venues in Claremont, Stellenbosch and Tableview, but the one that tends to have the best buzz about it is situated on Somerset Road in Green Point. With its smart casual dress code, the focus of this restaurant and club is to be a fully functional social club. Footballers and actors have been known to frequent this establishment for its authentic Cuban cigars and exotic cocktails, while the music is known to span multiple genres from Latin and salsa to hip hop and commercial music in the evenings. Dress code during the day is relaxed, but as soon as the sun goes down it becomes a smart casual affair.
Buena Vista Social Club has amazing locations around Cape Town, at Long Street, Durbanville, Eden on the Bay and Somerset West. However, their establishment that attracts the most attention is in Green Point, just outside the V&A Waterfront on Portswood Road. With an authentic Cuban atmosphere, top-notch food and affordable drinks, Buena Vista has become a choice destination for many locals over the weekend. If you fancy flexing your salsa dancing skills then you should get there on a Monday, with open salsa lessons being taught by professional dancers.
The latest in a string of novel events in Cape Town, Silent Disco has been taking the city by storm. Here’s where to go to experience the thrill.
Cape Town has been hit by a craze taking Europe by storm – the Silent Disco. If the concept sounds strange to you that’s because it is, but chances are you’re going to have the best time once you get started.
On a Silent Disco night you can rent a pair of headphones, and switch between the three channels on offer, which feature three DJs each playing different music. You can dance the night away – or laugh the night away as your friend dances next to you to music you can’t hear. So while you’re busy swaying to a Bob Marley jam, the person next to you might be doing their best AC/DC impersonation.
For the past two summers regular Silent Discos have been held at the quirky-cool Octopus Garden Restaurant & Wine Bar in St James, along the False Bay coastline. Here the Silent Discos take place outside in the courtyard under the stars, which adds to the unique sensory experience of the evening.
If the Deep South is off your radar (even though it really isn’t that far from town), then check out Silent Discos at Beerhouse on Long Street in the city centre, held every second Thursday of the month.
Only 30 minutes drive from the city centre, the southern part of the Cape Peninsual — known as The Deep South — boasts some of Cape Town’s best scenery. It’s also where good food and great music live in harmony.
Octopus’ Garden in the Old Post Office building at St James train station serves up a menu as eclectic as its décor and its entertainment offerings, with live music ranging from solo original artists to cover bands.
Built in 1939, the Brass Bell is considered an entertainment icon in entertainment in the area that stretchinges roughly along the False Bay coast from Muizenberg to Simon’s tTown. Located in the trendy harbour town of Kalk Bay and surrounded by rolling waves and tidal pools, this venue boasts 7seven different dining and entertainment areas. From karaoke to some of Cape Town’s best live music shows, it offers something for everyone.
Next door, you will find more laid back vibe of at Cape tTo Cuba, with its colourful déecor featuring an impressive hodgepodge collection of devotional objects and references to Ernest Hemingway and Cheé Guevara. Cape to Cuba hosts live music on Sundays only.
A little further south, The Annex in Simon’s Town hosts orginal live bands every Saturday night, as does.
Head even further south, to The Cape Farmhouse, which lies between Simon’s Town and Scarborough for family-friendly afternoon gatherings with local bands.
Attending a music festival usually includes loads of walking, being in the sun and exerting patience as you navigate stages, stalls and queues. It can all be a bit tiring for the post-thirties among us, unless you plan well.
The obvious ways to avoid being exhausted by day two of a festival have been shared and re-shared countless times: Drink plenty of water, have energy drinks at the ready, try to eat something nutritious along the way, et cetera. The less obvious strategies (no, not drugs) are less well known. This is what I’ve learned from experience.
(1) You’re going to have only festival food. Try to diversify.
Let’s face it: that bag of apples / carrots / beets you’ve packed is just to soothe your conscience. When you give up on that idea upon arrival and weave through the many stalls usually available, you need to accept that you can’t stick with a “favourite” for the weekend. While “roosterkoek” (basically bread prepared over open coals, filled with anything from cheese to sausages to bacon and eggs) or “vetkoek” (similar to “roosterkoek”, only deep-fried) are delicious and fantastic for a hung over body, you’ll need at least some variety, as too much starch will weigh you down. Try a “sosatie” (kebab) or even a smoothie once in a while.
(2) Strategic naps are essential
While being open to experiencing music you’ve never heard before remains important, it’s equally necessary to pick out an act on every day that you wouldn’t mind missing so you can fully enjoy the ones you really do want to see. Take that hour and go lie down in the tent or on a patch of grass in the shade – you’ll thank yourself later.
(3) You can dance when you need to, you can leave your friends behind
In the teenage years many of us feel the need to not appear boring, but at some point you have to stop caring about all that. There will be acts that make you get up and dance like a crazy person. Save energy for these moments by sitting down when you feel like it.
Admittedly, I feel incredibly old after writing this post. Well, time to go munch down a vetkoek, ignore sleep and bounce to my youthful soul’s content to the music on the PA system as the stage is being set up, I guess.
While managing a popular live music venue in trendy Observatory in the late 1990s, Angela Wieckl developed a passion for South Africa music. Today she’s a premier DJ who shares her tips for top venues, and memories of events gone by.
As far as my favourite live music venues go, after years of trying I still struggle to match the energy of The Waiting Room. The intimacy of that space when you’re watching an emotional performance is chilling. And when it’s packed to the brim, people singing along to their favourite band, the unity is euphoric.
I also think the real secret with acoustic shows is to follow the punk or ska kids, they were band nerds in school so they have really great music knowledge. They’re in pubs, coffee shops, crazy little joints where you grab a table and three beers later you’re part of the gang.
In terms of live music it’s no longer about the venue, but rather about the artist. People will go where the music pulls them, so the trick is to find the band you enjoy most and go out of your way to see them in as many places as possible.
I have been fortunate enough to be on the support line-up of a few very popular artists. What that leads to is a lot of mania — I’ve seen girls cry and hyperventilate. I’ve seen metal crowd barriers crumple like paper. I stand in awe every time a group of a thousand people shout out song lyrics at the same time.