WHAT MAKES CAPE TOWN CLIQUE? WHAT MAKES CAPE TOWN TICK?

(PICTURES EXCLUDED TO AVOID CREATING MORE STEROTYPES)

Capetonians are notoriously cliquey. I was born in Johannesburg where I lived for seven years before moving to Cape Town. When I was 19 I headed for the big bad US of A where I spent a year in Philadelphia, Boston and New York collectively as well as two years in Texas. So, these being my only other points of reference I can safely conclude that yes, Cape Town is cliquey.

While travelling through America I discovered that its people are infinitely more open minded and inclusive when it comes to socializing. We generally stick within our circle of friends and very rarely venture out of our comfort zones.

I interviewed Charles John recently and he offered me an entirely different point of view.

I asked him if he thought Cape Town was cliquey, he replied:

“Yes and no. Yes in the sense that obviously people hang out in cliques, but no in the sense that you can’t really call it cliquey because it’s the nature of human kind to surround ourselves with people similar to us. It’s the process of natural selection. We stay in herds, we need to be around people that in case danger arises that we’re around people that we’re safe with, you know, you don’t want to be around people and 90% of those people run away from their comfort zone, and leave you stranded. So, being in a clique is negative in a social way, but in a human way it’s the most natural thing.”

I agree with what he says, and yes there is this innate human truth that is impossible to ignore, but somehow we take it to another level – especially white people. It’s as if each of our cliques live in separate villages, governed by unconscious social codes.

Cape Town is a lot more segregated than other cities in South Africa. Why is this so? What is it about us that makes us so damn exclusive within our tribes?

 ///          Why do Inner-City Hipsters never hang out with trance koppe? Why do the Rock-Chic avoid Irie-vibing Hippies like syphilis? Why do Constantia Boytjies spend so much time working on their abs? Why do Brasse vannie Flats never hit Long Street, even though they shmaak white chicks? Why do Southerners rarely venture past the Boerewors Gordyn?       ///

“In spite of our social progress over the past 20 years Cape Town remains a culturally divided city. Cultures and even subcultures remain insular and exclusive.”  – Wendy Moorcroft

Social and cultural groups remain separate. This applies to all groups: Cultural, ethnic, racial, religious and class. Now, these structures grip the entire world, not only Cape Town. We’ve been conditioned from birth to believe that we’re separate from each other. We’ve created film, media and music which has shaped stereotypes; religions have created vacuums of separation; money has built class structures; our skin colour creates illusions of separateness. These constructions are universal.

So then, it’s got to have something to do with the way Cape Town is laid out – the very mountain, the goddamn seventh wonder of the world which we all adore could just be the thing that has planted an imaginary barrier within our minds.

Segregation is usually always seen as a hindrance to societal advancement, but there is also a flip side to all of this. Creativity at its very core thrives on polarity; it thrives on the perpetual drive to transcend reality. The very fact that we are so cliquey is also a reason for why we’re known as The Creative Capital of the World. Jeez man, I love this city.

I’ll be running a bulldozer through our collective psyche to uncover, once and for all what makes Cape Town clique, and what makes Cape Town tick.

This is a party and everyone’s invited. Take a stab. Take a stance. Wys me. I invite you on my quest to discover what lives Under the Culture.

Advertisements

THE CHARLES JOHN INTERVIEW.

    When starting a blog about pop culture, it only makes sense to start by interviewing my friends that have a direct influence on my life. Also, it is a good idea to start with artists who are destined for stardom, thus making all of you famous simply by association.

Charles John has his creative fingers directly on the pulse of Cape Town culture. He is a 3rd year Art Direction student at the Red & Yellow School in Cape Town. He lives in Athlone.

I hope you enjoy what he has to say:

Aweh.

  •  Whatsup man.

 Hoe lyk it?

  •  Dit lyk lekker.

Charles John, what is your power animal?

  •  My power animal! Hahaha! That is a very easy question actually. My power animal is very defined. It is definitely a white dragon with golden armour over its head and partly on it’s back legs, but as it needs more armour it makes more armour.

 What’s your favourite petrol station?

  •  Hahahahahaha. This is probably the best question so far.

Well it’s only the second question.

  •  Yes Ok, well my favourite petrol station is ironically the same petrol station that I always punt, which is … Shell. This is because … yoh, it’s weird because it’s the same reason people kind of use microwaves, smoke cigarettes. You know that it’s bad but the convenience of it, or the lack of other options drives you to use something that you know you shouldn’t be taking part in. I’m basically a whore.

 Do you sleep, Charles John?

  •  I sleep all the time. I’m sleeping right now. I’ve perfected the art of sleep talking. And most people think I’m awake when in actual fact I’m sleeping. Ya, I have advanced technology in these glasses – it makes it look like my eyes are moving, when infact they’re not. They are a recording of my eyes open.

 How many hours of sleep do you require, and why?

  •  24 hours of sleep, because I’m a 25 hour man.

 What is your take on faux fur coats?

  •  They are beast man, or non-beast you know, because they’re not from a beast. But I think that they’re cool. I like fake shit in general. Fake shit, fake people. You know, as long as you know you’re fake then I’m cool. As long as you’re not pretending to be something else.

 Would you consider yourself a fine artist? A graphic artist? A futurist?  What the hell are you man, what are you?

  • I’ve been struggling with this question for a long time. Definitely not a fine artist. And personally I just like to refer to myself as a creative. Definitely not a futurist, I don’t think anyone’s a futurist.  People like to create these things, you know, these words, but as soon as that day comes you’ve defeated the purpose in whatever the heck you were talking about to begin with. You’re living in the present so you cannot then qualify yourself as a futurist. But ya, I’m a creative.

 What will the world look like in 10 years time?

  •  Like it does now, but with more people…and stuff. That’s my prediction. I predict that. I stand for it. I guarantee it. The world will still be round.

What do you mean? Not triangular?

  •  A round world. I’m guaranteeing a round world.

What needs to be exposed in Cape Town? Anything that you feel is not getting the attention it deserves?

  •  The hipsters are largely overrated in Cape Town, and it’s come to a point that anything that is outside of what we consider normality is automatically hipster-is. It’s such a mundane blanket word. It’s actually a hateful word. I think that calling someone a hipster when they’re not a hipster is a hate crime, you know, it’s like calling me a hotnot. That’s what it’s like. That’s how I feel. I’m more offended when someone calls me a hipster than when someone calls me a hot not.
  • And yeah, what needs to be exposed: Yoh. There’s so much under this culture, like colored people in general, you know, like the way that we speak. The way we walk, the way we communicate, the way that we talk to each other with our eyes. Black culture; the hood. The way black men from the hood wear their skinny jeans in comparison to the way white men from Constantia wear their skinny jeans: it’s completely different. I’m talking about don’t touch my ankles swag, you know. And I’m talking about the kind of swag when you’re owning it. It’s not like: Haha his pants are too short, it’s like: That shit is dope.

 What do you think about advertising and the future of advertising?

  •  Advertising? This is the hardest question. Advertising? I think … I’m actually writing a blog about it right now. I see it going completely online. And advertising right now I’d say…is in its prime. Probably everyone that was in their time likes to think that whatever’s going on is in its prime.
  • I’m very afraid that advertising might implode in on itself, you know, because digital in itself is so simple, so easy for everyone to do. If everyone decides they wanna be a freelance advertiser, you know, we’ll end up with so much spam and that spam will equal advertising in the minds of the audience. Then how do you defer your advertising from spam? Are people just going to neglect advertising on a whole because it’s just this influx of shit? And that’s kind of what I’m seeing: that advertising will collapse in on itself.
  • I’m wondering now, based on your question, how will advertising separate itself from the virtual spam of the future?

And what is your take on the Cape Town street art scene?

  •  What street art scene? Are you talking about the government painting all the white shit over the graffiti? Yoh! That is the Cape Town street art scene! The Cape Town street art scene is government blocks of white paint, which I don’t respect. In that respect, I have no respect for Cape Town street art because it’s all white blocks from the government. Because they decided that they wanted to get rid of gang graffiti, but in their bylaw they qualify anything as gang graffiti that is not the original number of the building or the original colour of the building. So everything that is on a building, on a wall, even if it’s not gang graffiti, they’ll remove. That has become street art today in Cape Town. It’s bullshit.

 What do you think pop culture actually is?

  • Yoh! Pop culture?! Pop culture is literally… I would define it as whatever is tweaking mass medias’ nipples, you know, that’s what pop culture is. That’s what Andy Warhol was. Pop culture is what makes the media, the commercial media be like: What the fuck? Some of the stuff is timeless, but pop culture in of itself is questionable, and impressionable and malleable within itself. It doesn’t take itself so seriously, but it pretends to take itself seriously in its “non-seriousness”. It’s such an abnormality. It’s weird; I think it’s whatever’s tweaking contemporary medias nipples.

 People say Cape Town is cliquey, do you think so?

  •  Clicky, as in isi-Xhosa, you mean?

No cliquey as in you hang out with your clique.

  •  Yes and no. Yes in the sense that obviously people hang out in cliques, but no in the sense that you can’t really call it cliquey because it’s the nature of human kind to surround ourselves with people similar to ourselves. It’s the process of natural selection. We stay in herds, we need to be around people that in case danger arises that we’re around people that we’re safe with, you know, you don’t want to be around people and 90% of those people run away from their comfort zone, and leave you stranded. So, being in a clique is negative in a social way, but in a human way it’s the most natural thing.

 What’s the best spot to chow in Cape Town?

  •  At the moment I’m into Rafiki’s on a Monday evening man, and booze ball. Ya.

 Are you going to the Lady Gaga concert?

  •  Fuck no.
Charles John has his own blog:
You can also follow him on twitter: @thecharlesjohn