“We’re throwing a party down the road that’s just been shut down by the cops. We have a DJ from Berlin and 150 people ready to carry on partying – could we move the party to over here?”
That’s the gist of the pitch that Aaron Peters from The Other Records devised as he and Daniel Sher from Good Good Good scoured the streets of the Cape Town CBD in search of a venue that might be a consenting and compatible candidate for an ambitious party transfusion.
Just moments before Daniel and Aaron embarked on their mission; the Cape Town Metro Police had pulled up outside Hokey Poke well after it’s regular closing time. Throughout the course of the evening, the eccentric and unassuming poke restaurant had rapidly evolved into a late night techno/kwaito-fueled rave. The party was put together by the establishment’s owner, Max Botha with help from Good Good Good, Devil’s Peak Brewery and a feverish need to inject something new into the Cape Town nightlife scene. But, of course, the neighbouring residents who weren’t catching this particular brand of (somewhat questionably named) “Jungle Fever” were less than thrilled about the developing nature of such a party. Hence the unwelcome arrival of local law enforcement.
Inside the venue, the inhabitants of Jungle Fever had already been worked into a frenzy at the command of Durban-born Kwaito icon; Sandy B.
An inspired choice for the evening’s lineup, Sandy had only recently arisen from his hiatus after the hight of his career in the Kwaito zeitgeist of the ‘90s. This was primarily due to his debut album Amajovi Jovi was reissued on vinyl by Canadian record label Invisible City and is now jiving throughout the world in the wake of his latest offering, Qhum Qhaks.
Amidst the neon drenched abundance of faux-tropical plants that gave shape to the inner-city neon jungle growing from within Hokey Poke – a barrage of bouncy, bass-heavy grooves engulfed the dance floor. With Sandy standing front-and-centre within the crowd, he delivered a set that rattled the floor and steamed up the walls.
As the humidity in the Jungle increased, so did the volume. Sandy had taken the crowd to a boiling point and, at this point, Berlin-based veteran Cape Town DJ and savant of global electronic sound, Floyd Lavine, was ready to make the party bubble over the brim.
With the free reign of a four-hour set, Floyd was prepared to guide the Jungle through a sonic journey that would traverse through the realms of house, techno and African grooves. It was a set so enjoyable; it should have been outlawed – which is probably what drew the attention of the police.
On the outskirts of the Jungle, Daniel and Max calmly negotiated the terms of the party’s survival with the officer in charge. The outcome resulted in a compromise to lower volume levels in exchange for a lower chance of legal interference – not an ideal situation for the restless inhabitants of Hokey Poke, but such is the rule of the Jungle sometimes.
Not one to tolerate the compromised sonic integrity of a good time, Aaron Peters (who was in attendance that night) made the suggestion to migrate the Jungle to a more hospitable environment nearby – a tactic that served him well when one of his earlier SWIM parties at Julep Bar was shut down due to similar circumstances.
Daniel and Aaron’s adventure, however, was not fruitful. At midnight on a Saturday, Cape Town’s unspoken curfew had already begun to kick in. As bars started to empty and chairs were being stacked, there seemed to be no fertile ground left for the Jungle to take root – a rather disappointing discovery.
Having accumulated more steps than initially anticipated in their night, Daniel and Aaron returned to Hokey Poke to see how the party was holding up. Had the Jungle fallen victim to untimely cultural deforestation?
Fortunately, the Jungle had continued to thrive. Despite Floyd subtly climbing up the decibel ladder for the duration of his set, the party continued until the final hour. When the police returned, the party had simmered down, and the need for animosity had drastically reduced. Instead of disputes, the night ended with selfies with the officers in charge and an overarching feeling of primal euphoria that comes after a night of feverish grooves.
It’s parties like these that might provide the antidote to the sleepiness pervading throughout the Cape Town nightlife scene that was seen in the city’s unwillingness to participate in the aforementioned party-transfusion (although, to be fair, it would have been a very ambitious procedure). The ambition of individuals like Max Botha and Daniel Sher to throw caution to the wind and create these spaces on a whim for the sheer sake of a good night out that might turn this lethargic late-night latency around. To quote Todd Chavez’s final rumination in the series finale of Bojack Horseman, “You do the Hokey Pokey, and you turn yourself around. That’s what it’s all about.” And that’s precisely what Hokey Poke and Good Good Good did for Cape Town that night.