Real Scenes: Johannesburg
RA tells the remarkable story of the South African city’s thriving house scene.
South Africans are the biggest consumers of house music in the world, and Johannesburg is the beating heart of their scene. If you’re looking for proof, there is no need to visit a nightclub. In turning on a television, listening to the radio or walking down the street, it’s clear that a 4/4 pulse is the metronome of everyday life. The city’s preferred sound—vocal-led, percussive, melodic—is largely at odds with what’s popular in other international markets; this coupled with cripplingly slow internet speeds goes someway to explaining SA’s absence from the global house music conversation.
But although the scene’s stars hold ambitions that extend well beyond the country’s borders, the reality is that they’re thriving on home turf. Johannesburg has written—and continues to write—its own narrative. It has tales of hardship. The fight to free itself from the brutality of apartheid, and the role music played in that struggle. In a city still rife with poverty, house music can offer a way out. For our latest Real Scenes film we journeyed to Johannesburg and its outer lying townships, meeting the DJs, producers, promoters and record labels who are central to its story.