The time was fifteen minutes after nine o’clock in the evening. A few stars in the sky were shining, lighting up the galaxy which was overlooking the majestic city of Cape Town like a loyal dog guarding its owner. At a particular institute of higher learning in one of the northern suburbs of the city, the students of various universities and colleges were gathered at a single spot. A small number of people who had also gathered at The Barn were not students. They had come for various reasons which were between them and their God. The place was overflowing with people and litres of alcohol while a few who were not consumers of the holy juice sipped from bottles of water and soft drinks. It did not matter what they were drinking, what mattered was that on this night they had all gathered at the same spot.
On the decks, a certain DJ by the name of The Chemist was about to conclude her set. For the past two hours she had been treating the masses to the global sounds of Electro House and besides the notion that this particular subgenre of House music was only popular in white circles, the predominantly black crowd that had congregated not far from the campus of UWC proved this to be wrong. She made them dance like they had no problems in the world.
As she prepared to step down, making way for the headliners – The Big Guns – the crowd looked like they had not had enough of her concoctions and potions. Every artist, every performer, big or small, when given a platform to dazzle the audience with their talents always wants to leave them wanting more. On this particular night The Chemist wanted to do the same. To sign off, performing her last song before DJ Morena – the event’s MC – could announce the first main headliner of the event, The Chemist summoned the production talents of the Canadian-born producer Deadmau5.
For the first thirty seconds of the last song of her mix, while she let the previous song die a slow but elegant death, she watched the crowd as she waited to see how they would respond to her ultimate song. Ten seconds later as Faxing Berlin had made its resolute introduction, the bass pounding hard from the speakers that were brought in earlier by the three young men who themselves had each played a set, The Chemist began to clap her hands in the air to rouse the crowd. They responded as the melody of the song floated in the air, travelling smoothly to their ears. The song had a certain resonance of finality to it, a reverberation that evoked feelings of melancholy that what was is sadly coming to an end. Like a bunch of devoted followers, the gathered masses at The Barn began to dance harder as the last member of the amateur DJ squad prepared to bid them farewell.
While no one had announced that this was her last song, they could sense from the track and her sudden clapping that she was saying goodbye. By dancing this hard they were saying thank you. They were communicating to her that they reject her goodbye as goodbyes usually mean that they would never see each other again. Goodbyes were reserved for the dead. The flock of fun heads that had assembled on that night wanted The Chemist to say to them until next time when we meet again, and not goodbye.
The song was winding down as the throng of people at The Barn began jumping in the air to the intoxicating musical talents of Deadmau5 delivered timeously by The Chemist. The MC handed her a mic and said, ‘Talk to them.’ She stepped forward under the light so she could be visible to the people she has been entertaining.
‘UWC, you know how to have fun’, she said breathing heavily as if she has just finished running a marathon.
‘Are you serious? Is that Ziyanda?’ Samantha asked with her mouth agape.
She was surprised. This was the second time in a day that this happened. Karabo could not help but be amused.
‘Yes, that is her’, he answered still laughing.
‘So you knew about this?’ Samantha asked with a stern look on her face.
‘That she is a DJ? Yes, I know about that. That she was going to play tonight? No, I didn’t know about that. The last time I checked she stopped playing a few years ago to focus on her studies.’
‘That explains why she knew so much about the DJ scene in Cape Town’, Samantha added as she began to make sense of it all.
‘Thank you all for coming out tonight to party with us. Siyabulela, sibulela kakhulu’, The Chemist expressed her sincere gratitude to the large numbers before her.
In return they gave her a resounding round of applause while Faxing Berlin played softly in the background, apparently looped but not audible to an innocent ear. She went back and increased the volume for her last moment on stage, allowing the congregation to appreciate the music she selected one last time before she makes way for the next act.
‘And then what is with the name?’ Samantha questioned Karabo.
‘I think Yanda is the best person to answer that’, he said as he picked up a quart of Castle Lager to refill his plastic glass before passing it to Sello who was as coy with the bottle as a pimpled teenage boy is around beautiful girls.
‘Nwa chief, I am sure Nicole won’t beat you up if she finds out that you were drunk’, Karabo teased Sello who was yet to drink from his glass. Samantha laughed and said, ‘Don’t drag Mr. S into your dark valley.’
‘Hayibo! What do you mean?’ Karabo protested.
‘Come on Kay. We all know about your wayward ways’, Samantha replied. She was sipping from her own glass of Carling Black Label.
‘What do you mean “wayward ways?”’ He pretended to not know what she was talking about.
‘Yes. Your wayward ways. I like the phrase Ziyanda used this afternoon before she quickly changed the subject to avoid the matter’, Samantha pressed on. ‘Questionable proclivities she said.’
Like a naughty boy up to no good, Karabo smiled and drank from his cup of holy juice. ‘That is all behind me Sam. I have put all those ‘wayward ways’, as you put it, behind me’, he argued his case.
‘That is an old line. It is a cliché used by men who make a living by lying’, Samantha shot back with a smile while looking Karabo directly in his eyes, waiting for a comeback.
‘I wish it was a line but it is not. I told the same thing to Zee and I am not about to turn on my word.’ He was wearing a serious look on his face. The ball was back in Samantha’s court. She felt ambivalent about Karabo’s words. He appreciated that he was committed to his girlfriend but she resented that he mentioned her.
‘UWC! UWC! Are you there?’ DJ Morena was on stage ready to introduce the next act. The evening breeze was getting cooler but the group of partygoers at The Barn did not feel it. Some of them were sweating from dancing hard.
‘Are you ready for DJ Kabila?’ DJ Morena addressed his audience. They shouted back in unison, ‘Yes!’
A scrawny young fellow wearing a silver-grey track top emblazoned with big black letters that read GUGS walked to the DJ booth carrying a large bag of CDs. For a moment his small body looked like it would succumb under the weight of the CD bag.
He arrived at the DJ booth, momentarily engaging The Chemist in a lighthearted conversation, for she briefly laughed as she packed her bag preparing to make way for him. He opened his CD bag which he had put aside the CD player to take out the CD from which he would play his first song for the people before him. Faxing Berlin was still playing softly when he decided to kill it completely. He inserted his disc on the other player and he ejected the tray on the other player to hand Ziyanda her last CD. The Chemist was now off duty and it was now time for DJ Kabila.
‘UWC your first main headliner. Give it up for DJ Kabila’, DJ Morena said as he looked behind to confirm that DJ Kabila was ready to take the small nation that had gathered on another musical journey. The latter raised his right thumb up to indicate that he was ready. As DJ Kabila pushed up the knobs on the mixer to play his first song, DJ Morena moved to allow for the impending temporary marriage between the disc jockey on the decks and his crowd. He was in charge of the DJ booth and therefore the people who stood moving to the music a few metres from him were his crowd. Instead of serenading his audience with contemporary music, Kabila opted for old school music, forcing the crowd to reminisce about the good, old past. They immediately recognised the melody and when the vocals finally came on, the bash turned into a karaoke. ‘I wanna tell my story…to the world’, the audience chanted, individually searching their memory vaults for those remarkable moments that are now part of the past. With one song from Bonsai People, it was DJ Kabila’s turn to claim the gathered masses as his own. For the next two hours he would do just that: own them.