From Stab issue 58: Stab reveals the metropolises where a man can lock down a satisfying occupation, be entertained in the most degenerate manner, where he won’t be vilified for his free expression and where a hunk of fiberglass can be put to exceptionally good use…
Number five is: Cape Town, South Africa
Words by Craig Jarvis
Table Mountain, big waves and pink rands my bru! Cape Town has history, culture and beautiful people. The summer heat sees them head to the white Atlantic beaches to tan their hides and to have a look around at the other gorgeous hides. The country has 11 national languages, each from a certain tribe and only English and Afrikaans are for white boy talk, so there is a strong variation wherever you go. Black, White, Indian and Coloured are generally who you’re rubbing with, and just like wherever white and black mixes have taken place the world over, there are some very cute babes and babies around. The winter sees some of the most ferocious storms imaginable to man roping down from the roaring 40’s and smashing the city. With two coastlines, one side gets hammered while the other goes offshore and in some cases, sublime, with fine barrels at Kalk Bay Reef and Black Rock.
Cape Town is an exposed, mountainous area with windy cliff roads and the Cape Doctor south-east wind that can hit double gale force in summer, seriously mussing up hairdos. This summer howevs, has seen the longest, warmest, most wind-free season in years, with daytime temps hanging in the mid-30’s. And, when the weather hits it simply herds people to the fine dining and jazzy nightclubs that dot the city centre and spread to the southern suburbs. If you’re here for surf, you’re going to have myriad options in front of you. There’s always an offshore somewhere on the peninsula and there’s always a new sandbank or a certain part of a reef that’s feeling that day’s swell directions sweetly.
Why you’ll want to live there: For vainglorious big-wave surfers desperate for ego stroking, there is Dungeons, Sunset Reef, Outer Kom and Crayfish Factory. For tube aficionados there is The Dune, The Hoek, Llandudno, Kalk Bay Reef and other little hooks that turn on at whim. The West Coast is another world with beaches, reef and point breaks all the way to Elands Bay, a quiet little Afrikaans fishing village that happens to hold one of the best lefts in the country.
Where to stay: In Cape Town, don’t choose to slum it to be cool or you’ll end up involved in high action like a hijacking, a shoot-out or worse, but more of the crime later. Stab has hung at the Fire and Ice at about R900 ($110) a night and enjoyed sucking on a ciggie in their smoking room – the seats are coffins and the roof has an inspiring mural that shows people looking down at you in your grave. The hippest hotel in Cape Town right now is called the Grand Daddy Hotel and, oowee, come on in. Apart from the slick interior and dining experiences, your sleeping quarters are a bunch of Airstream trailers, all set out on the rooftop and done out in curious themes like The Ballad Of John and Yoko trailer, Afrofunk trailer and Goldilocks and The Three Bears that includes a bear outfit, a goldilocks outfit and tiny cups and saucers. This trailer is used, unbelievably somewhat, for couples with a child under the age of eight. The very tarrif is R600 ($75) per head, sharing. There’s a drive-in open-air cinema on the roof where people clamber out of the Airstreams, huddle under blankies on couches and drink wine under the stars while watching old classics as well.
Getting out: It’s called ‘going on the jorl’ in South Africa when you head out into the night to have a beverage, observe a cross-section of people, converse with the right ones, and maybe hold them tight under the neon lights. Start off at Café Caprice, situated directly across from the beautiful Camps Bay beach and the poor cousin righthander hiding in the corner Glen Beach. Drinks, skinny people, queues and great food will get you ready for a big night on the town. New clubs pop up all the time and the cliques move in, but all tastes are catered for, including the large gay community.
Grinds: Everything’s going on in Cape Town. If you’re on a Rands and cents budget you have to try a Gatsby from the Parade in the city centre. The Gatsby is a Cape Town street food creation consisting of a giant baguette stuffed with hot chips, meat such as masala steak or polony, and a hot sauce or pickle such as atchar. It’s big, it’s cheap asThe graduate Jordy Smith and his Mrs Robinson, Lyndall Jarvis, new Cape Town residents. Photo: Ryan Miller chips literally and it blunts the hunger. If you’re on plastic, try Nobu in the Victoria and Alfred waterfront. The newest outpost of acclaimed master chef Nobuyuki Matsuhi, it revels in some of the finest sublime Japanese cuisine. Good sushi, bru.
Violence: Oh fuck, yes. The good old “Africa is not for the faint hearted” cliché applies here in bags. Crime is bad. Cape Town has held its spot as a gnarly city for some time. In one of the latest, and somewhat dubious lists for the most dangerous cities in the world, Cape Town came in as the most dangerous city in South Africa. In a list of 50 such hot spots, Cape Town came in as the most dangerous city outside of South and North America and the Caribbean, and was number 34 on the list. Muggings, hijackings, break-ins and so forth are common, as is, ulp, homicide. Watch your back, hide the Rolex and don’t throw money around inside dark clubs.
Cultural hits: The Irma Stern Museum, situated in the home of this world famous artist, can be found in Mowbray, a quiet little southern suburb. JM Coetzee, twice-winner of the Booker Prize and the Nobel Prize in literature, wrote all his good words in Cape Town, and phenomenal Die Antwoord Afrikaans rap band are Capetonians through and through. Their genre is derived from the hubbub that is The Cape Flats, a large amalgamated expanse of squatter camps that fill the eyes when you approach from the air.
Politics: South Africa is all about the ANC, but Cape Town is Democratic Alliance-run, and is a good example of a well-run city in a country where not many are that well run at all. They (the DA) have stamped out corruption, have tightened up crime prevention and are doing their best to hold a tight rein. Sometimes too much, with overzealous police and traffic cops jumping down innocent peoples necks for minor parking offences and shit. Don’t drive drunk, don’t get too clever and don’t argue back. Just like in America.
Surfers: Good big-wave legends like Johnny Paarman and Gavin Rudolph hail from Cape Town, as does former successful tour campaigner Justin Strong. Big-wave surfers like Frank Solomon and everyone’s favourite charger Andy Marr are dedicated to the Cape Of Storms. Jordy Smith has relocated to Cape Town, as well as Warwick Wright. New blood in Brendon Gibbens and Matt Bromley are also from the ‘783 (Kommetjie.)
Water and all that: It’s cold. It often sits down at about 12, but also climbs up nicely, especially during the winter months. Over on the False Bay side it gets pretty warm in summer, but if you’re surfing on the Atlantic you’re going to need a 4/3 with boots and hoods, gloves optional. A bottle of Old Brown Sherry in your wagon wont be looked at askew at any times of the day either. There are also loads of sharks around in Cape Town and while most believe that the attacks happen in the warmer False Bay hood where the chumming and cage diving operations occur, there have been fatal shark attacks in the cold Atlantic waters as well.
Work detail: If you’re making coin you’re in marketing and advertising. If you’ve peaked and you’re trying to maintain your standard of living you’re into property sales. If you’re working funny hours so that you want to go surfing, but still making decent bread, you’re in the film industry. If you’re a struggling fuck you’re in the surf industry. R20k gets you into the game, at the bottom end. Rental for an apartment or small two-bedroom flat in the city will put you back R10k, so you need to find a nice clean flat-mate or a dirty ho who pays for her rent in kind. Either way, not a cheap deal. If you’re winning and you own or have been given a successful company you’re putting R150k into your pocket monthly and you’re buying the rounds. If you’re in the leagues and you want the real deal, a Llandudno crib overlooking the sea, where Jordy Smith has his Cape Town pad, is going to put you back on average about R12m if you’re lucky. Market entry is about R6m, and caps off at the top of the range about R50m, reserved for our crooked politicians.
One more thing: If a really big cold front hits, and the ocean is one giant, pulverising wave, then remember that J-Bay corduroy is just seven hours away.
The Good and the Not-So-Good
+ The coastline hits two diff oceans. Tons of waves. Good times at night. A fantastic quirk of geography that might blow y’head off the first time you get the cable car to Table Mountain.
- Remember that lil thing called HIV that kinda sidestepped the hetero community in Australia? It didn’t here. And, nobody does violence like Africans. Hoo! Sharks and insanely cold water complete the picture.