Johannesburg’s coolest hangout spots and events for students
With many of the establishments in and around campus, re-opening this year, Witsies will finally get a real taste of typical campus culture. Below is a list of some of places one can visit to get better acquainted with Joburg student life.
1. FNB Varsity Cup
Location: Wits Rugby Stadium
If your new year’s resolution was to find a new interest, rugby might just be the thing for you. The FNB Varsity Cup takes places annually between February and April with university rugby teams from across the country competing for the title of Varsity Cup champions. You will see the Wits Rugby Stadium come alive on Monday nights as the teams battle it out on the field, scrumming and searching for the try line to secure a place in the finals. The energy is electric, the stands vibrate as spectators cheer, donning team colours as they ‘back their boytjies’. You can catch the next game on Monday, March 14 at 19h00 at UJ Stadium and find more details on the FNB Varsity Cup website.
2. Wits Art Museum
Location: Cnr. Jorissen and Bertha St, Braamfontein
Popularly called ‘WAM’, the Wits Art Museum is not just for art connoisseurs and artists, but for ordinary people who love interesting and often beautiful work. With free entrance and exhibitions that change approximately every three months, it’s the perfect place to explore inner city the art scene. However, if you would like a more interactive experience, the museum also hosts artist walkabouts every Saturday, where you’ll be able to meet and talk to artists as they give a more in-depth account of their work. An exhibition that features the works of solely women and gender diverse artists is set to open on Tuesday, March 15 and will run until July 2022 but in the interim, the work of talented Wits creative arts PhD student, Audrey Salmon, is on show. Her mind-bending exhibit, ‘In The Wake of Flouted Bodies’ explores and challenges ideas of paradise through a collection of mixed mediums.
Location: 2 Cnr Smit & De Beer Street, Braamfontein
As you enter the crisp white building and the restaurant on the right, you will be welcomed by murals of American musician, Nina Simone and former president of Burkina Faso, Thomas Sankara . Mangrove is many things in practice but has one purpose at heart: providing a safe space and community. The eatery’s menu is simple, varied and affordable. With everything from curry, to ribs and the ‘Mogodu Monday’ special, are sure to leave even the most discerning customer spoilt for choice.
However, the restaurant is not its only attraction; Mangrove hosts jazz nights on Thursdays, music festivals monthly, thrift markets every Saturday and Mangrove Sunday Bike Ride. In addition to all of this, patrons will be able to shop local clothing and jewellery by Jewellery Goddess in an adjacent space called Mangrove Street. For those looking for a more permanent buy, a tattoo parlour is also housed in the same space. The art that adorns the walls and window sills in the building is also on sale, and changes often as a result.
Location: 71 Juta St, Braamfontein
Kitchener’s may be Braamfontein’s second oldest building but still finds ways to be fresh and interesting. Whichever day you choose to pay the legendary establishment a visit you will find something that will have you grateful that you chose to take a break from that assignment you’ve been trying to write for three days. Many of the events that have contributed with the pub’s popularity such as Tuesday Comedy and Monday Open-Mic nights are still firm and well attended institutions. For those on a budget, the bar’s happy hour is between 17h00-19h00.
5. Great Dane
Location: 5 De Beer St, Braamfontein
Under new ownership and celebrating its 10 year anniversary, Great Dane is another Braamfontein staple. While the outside of the building may catch your eye, Great Dane’s recognisable finishes inside are certainly something to talk about. From the lamp base covered ceiling in the foyer, dart board wall by the bar to the 5c coin covered floor and DJ booth made of briefcases. The club’s inaugural password for entrance concept will be reintroduced in the form of membership rings and perks for those that call Great Dane their home. The new owner and avid Great Dane patron, Rāms hopes to introduce more live music and creative mentorship programme model that will transform Great Dane from more than a club to a multifunctional incubator of culture.
FEATURED IMAGE: WAM is a place to learn, explore and even spend time between classes. Photo: Kemiso Wessie
- Wits Vuvuzela, REVIEW: WAM exhibition a ghostly memorial to men lost to war, April 2021.
- Wits Vuvuzela, Nightlife after lockdown, May 2020.
- Wits Vuvuzela, A night out for R100, February 2014.