‘Oh my God, you totally blew me away’, Samantha shouted over the music. ‘Why didn’t you tell me that you were also playing tonight? Or the fact that you are a DJ.’ She was tipsy and therefore overly excited. The multiple glasses of beer she had been feeding her body were beginning to show results.
‘I wanted to surprise you. Damn! It felt good being up there, I had almost forgotten how it feels to entertain a crowd’, Ziyanda shared her joy with Samantha, Karabo and Sello.
‘I think I am losing my mind’, Sello interjected excitedly, sipping from the same glass he had doubts drinking from earlier.
‘No my boy, you are not. O tagilwe’, Karabo retorted.
‘And it is all your fault’, Samantha pointed her finger at Karabo. For a moment Karabo was surprised that Samantha understood Setswana but he decided to ignore it. ‘Maybe she heard the word somewhere’, he thought to himself, acknowledging the fact that Samantha was after all not dumb. She could have picked the word form Generations, Rhythm City, Isidingo or any of South Africa’s soapies.
‘I said he should drink. I didn’t say he should get phucked up’, Karabo defended his statement.
‘Potato potato’, Samantha said to him.
‘But I must say, he looks liberated. Nicole should leave more often’, Karabo looked at Sello with a mischievous smile. They all laughed including Sello who was dancing hard to the music played by DJ Kabila.
‘Screw you’, Sello cursed Karabo.
‘Karabo, would you be a darling and pour me a drink’, Ziyanda spoke with the contained air of royalty, like this was normal to her: ordering Karabo around. The lanky fellow obliged and reached for a clean glass from the cooler box Ziyanda had brought with, opened a Castle Lite can and filled her glass.
‘Here you go’, he handed Ziyanda her drink. Her thick dreadlocks matched perfectly with her rich brown skin. Samantha thought to herself that in another lifetime Ziyanda could have been a queen of some African nation. She had natural qualities to command, qualities that extended beyond being a mere president of a country but a leader of a highly functioning society. A leader that was above the petty squabbles that were often a hobby of politicians.
Her grace and beauty were undeniably enviable and she hated that by being in Ziyanda’s presence she felt like a lesser woman. She knew she was beautiful, intelligent but somehow Ziyanda made her feel like she was none of those things. Standing next to Ziyanda while she ordered Karabo to pour her beverage, she doubted her own femininity, her own beauty and intelligence as a human being. She knew she was being petty but she could not help herself.
‘Have you two dated?’ The words were out of her mouth. She couldn’t bring them back. They were gone, floating in the air towards Karabo, Ziyanda and Sello’s ears. Sello could not care. He was happily sipping the contents of a glass which he was earlier rejecting, contents that were now making him happy as a male truck driver after a brief yet fulfilling private session with a lady of the night. Karabo reached for a quart of Castle Lager on the ground, refilled his glass and buried himself inside it. He pretended not to have heard anything, hoping that he won’t be the one to answer Samantha, if she has to be answered.
‘What makes you say that?’ Ziyanda gracefully asked. Compared to Karabo she did not break a sweat. The question did not rattle her.
‘I was just wondering, plus I am nosy’, Samantha stood her ground. She did not mean to blurt out like that but now that the damage was done, she might as well see her question through; after all she was not a coward.
‘Yes, we used to date. A few years ago but it didn’t work out’, Ziyanda gave in, realising that Samantha was on a mission. It did not help stringing her along.
‘Yanda, who else is playing tonight?’ Karabo jumped in, hoping to switch the topic.
‘Karabo Rej is playing after Kabila and then Tshepo is closing’, she responded comfortably, making it clear that she was not running away from the question Samantha posed. If she still wanted to ask more questions about her history with Karabo, she was welcome to ask away.
‘Kay is very smooth’, Samantha gave Karabo the accusing look she had shot him earlier in the afternoon even though she was talking to Ziyanda. ‘He is always looking for a way to duck from the truth. You would make the perfect politician.’
‘Thank you. I have always said that to him’, Ziyanda agreed with Samantha.
‘Hee banna! Are you calling me a liar?’ He was flanked by both Samantha and Ziyanda with Sello dancing next to Samantha.
‘Mhmmm, let me see. What is the definition of a liar? Anyone who always scrambles to hide the truth or avoids answering questions. If the cap fits Kay, wear it’, Samantha shot back.
‘Ouch!’ Karabo feigned pain. ‘I think I should leave you two and join Sello. Dude really looks to be at peace.’ Sello was turning and twisting to the house tunes of DJ Kabila. He was indeed at peace. His innards might have been swimming in a pool of alcoholic beverages at that moment but with his mind lost in music he was experiencing a state of tranquility for the first time in a long while.
‘There he goes ducking again’, Samantha retorted.
‘Clearly anything that I say will be misconstrued as lies, so I am going to keep quiet’, Karabo said as he imposed silence on himself, hoping that he will finally put the topic to bed.
While Karabo’s character and past were being questioned by Samantha who was backed by Ziyanda, a lad with his pants hanging below his waist as if screaming for rescue walked to the DJ booth and put his own CD bag on the table. He said something to DJ Kabila, eliciting a smile from his face before returning to a table where he was seated with five other chaps including DJ Morena.
The table was decorated with bottles of whisky, beer, soft drinks and water. Compared to other tables, this particular table had two waiters whose job was to serve that table only. If anyone from the other table called for their attention they would simply signal for one of their colleagues to assists and not move. Their sole job was to serve anyone seated at this table and no one else.
‘That is Karabo Rej’, Ziyanda said to Samantha as the lad wearing skinny jeans took a seat at the VIP table.
‘Which one?’ Samantha inquired.
‘The one with the leopard print vest at that table where DJ Morena is seating’, Ziyanda answered as she pointed from a considerable distance at one of Cape Town’s finest DJs and producers.
‘The one who just put the bag at the DJ booth?’ Samantha asked to make sure they were referring to the same person.
‘Yes, that one. He is the one who is playing next’, Ziyanda said.
‘I also see DJ Loyd at the VIP table. Is he playing?’ Karabo turned to Ziyanda.
‘No. I think he is just here to support his friends’, Ziyanda replied.
‘That is nice of him. He is now a superstar so it is good to see that he hasn’t abandoned his friends now that he hangs out with the likes of Fresh and Euphonik’, Karabo said.
‘You mean DJ Fresh?’ Samantha asked, somewhat surprised.
‘Yes. They are grooming him’, Karabo responded. ‘He also has a slot at GoodHope FM and there are rumours that he is about to release his album through SoulCandi.’ He now turned to Ziyanda. Samantha felt clueless, asking all these questions that exposed her novelty and freshness. Despite her intelligence and confidence, she was showing that she is a freshman.
‘Yes, I heard the same thing’, Ziyanda responded.
‘Where is this Tshepo dude that you were gushing about earlier on?’ Karabo asked, his tone slightly sarcastic.
‘Hayibo! Gushing?’ Ziyanda cracked in a disingenuous laugh. ‘You have never met this guy and you are jealous of him. I don’t see him at the VIP table. He is probably still on his way.’
‘Please’, Karabo waved his hand in the air to dismiss Ziyanda’s statement. Ziyanda rolled her eyes at Karabo.
Suddenly Sello appeared with his body jerking backwards and forth like it had gained independence from its owner. The three of them had not realised that he was gone until he reappeared from a different direction, dancing with his glass held tightly in his hand while the beer threatened to spill but lacking the courage to do so.
‘And then wena…o tswa kae?’ Karabo was genuinely surprised, his face like those of Samantha and Ziyanda, dressed up with concern. While they were talking Sello was dancing innocently a few metres from where they were standing. They were distracted and therefore did not pick up that he was no longer there, too immersed in their own conversation to notice that one member of their team was missing.
‘Sam, thank you for inviting me here tonight. This is really fun’, Sello said as he suddenly hugged Samantha who had never seen this side of Sello. He did not care to answer as to where he was coming from. She hugged Sello back and before she knew it he had moved on to Karabo.
‘Kgosi, this is fun. Thank you’, he said as he grabbed Karabo who was not prepared for the hug that felt more like his life was being sucked out of his body. Ziyanda watched on with an awkward smile on her face, wondering if she was next to receive the bearhug from Sello. She geared herself to be forcefully grabbed by Sello. After hugging Karabo, Sello took a step back and confessed how it was his first time at The Barn even though this was his fourth year at UWC.
‘I never wanted to come to this place. I always took it as a place for incorrigible drunkards but tonight I see there is more to it’, Sello said as he struggled to stand still.
‘Your statement is as loaded with irony and hypocrisy…’, Karabo replied before Samantha lightly stepped on his foot. Ziyanda covered her mouth to stop herself from laughing at Karabo’s comment which she assumed, based on history, would have been a sarcastic gem.
‘I am glad you like it Mr. S’, Samantha assured Sello.
A few minutes after half past eleven Karabo Rej, dressed in his beloved traditional Isizulu vest, pants sagging below his waist, approached the DJ Booth to take over from the outgoing DJ Kabila. In the past two hours the latter had scintillated the large group of youth and a few old timers present at The Barn with the very best of old school commercial house. For the next two hours that tough job would fall to Karabo Rej. As DJ Kabila packed his bag of musical goodies, before the MC could introduce the next act, a small group of girls dancing just in front of the booth began screaming. ‘Karabo’, they chanted the name of the incoming DJ. He pretended not to hear while he fiddled with the mixer and the players – his tools to serenade the crowd for the next two hours.
‘Rej, from what I can see you need no introduction’, DJ Morena teased Karabo Rej. The DJ looked up, smiled and returned to duty. He had a long road ahead of him. As it had been the norm throughout the evening the MC introduced the next DJ.
‘UWC are you ready for Karabo Rej?’ DJ Morena once again asked, a question to which he received a resounding yes. Indeed he was a popular chap. The masses knew and admired him.
‘Mr. DJ, they are all yours’, DJ Morena said as he stepped aside to allow Karabo Rej to deliver his musical service – after all a long time ago he promised to always keep the people entertained. That night, at that moment, it was once again time to deliver on that promise.