Sunday, January 11, 2009

The beginning of the end

“It’s the beginning of the end,” moans Disco.
I didn’t realise how long it had been since I was in Greenside. It wasn’t anything personal; I still loved Greenside, it had a very special place in my heart. But apparently I hadn’t been there for two years.
When I was last in Greenside, it was a pleasant strip of affordably upscale restaurants with attractive elements of residential suburbia. There was a Portuguese seafood place, an Indian restaurant, a couple of trendy eateries of indeterminate ethnicity, alongside a Kwikspar, a laundry and petrol station.
While I was merrily going about my life in Sandton, with some tangential encounters with Newtown, Melville, Fourways and Bryanston, I somehow contrived to avoid Greenside. God, I’d been down Barry Hertzog at least four times, I’d been jolling in Parkhurst, been for a chow in Mellies. So close! I’d even paddled in a canoe race at Emmarentia dam…
I’d taken Greenside for granted. In my mind it was always there, inscrutable, eternal, like the Grand Canyon. Meanwhile it was changing, reimagining itself, becoming scrutable.
And now it’s the beginning of the end!
Disco is a Greenside resident, he stays right on the strip, and he has witnessed the change. The devolution.
Where once there was an upmarket eatery there is now a rock club. Gin, it’s called. And it represents the end of Greenside civilization as we know it.
“It’s not the rock club as such,” Disco clarifies. “It’s what happens when the club closes and the place starts emptying out. You get people hanging around on the street, chatting till all hours. Cars driving up and down the street…”
“Mmm… noisy.”
“I think the answer is double glazing. If you think of the Kempinski Hotel in Moscow. It’s right on the main road, and you hardly hear the traffic. Double glazing, bru.”
“Ja, and this is how it started in Melville,” I find myself saying. “Yeoville, Rosebank... It always starts with a nightclub, next thing it’s a couple of nightclubs, then the larney restaurants close down. Next thing the merts arrive…”
“Ja, and you know what it does to the property values.”
“Ja, if you think about it, twenty years ago we were sitting having a dop on the roof of Tandoor.”
Indeed we were. Tandoor in Rockey Street in Yeoville was the coolest place to hang back in 1990. The pulsing Bohemian heart of Johannesburg. A mix of eateries, rock clubs and elements of residential suburbia. Today I wouldn’t go to Yeoville unless I needed to sell my car to a drug dealer for five grand.
“Should we get one more round?”
“Might as well. Make it the last one.”
Ja. Okes are pushing forty. And we can’t be staying out as late as we used to in our heyday. So we’ll make it one last round. Disco gets up and heads downstairs to fetch that last round.
Downstairs at the bar. At Gin, Greenside’s finest new rock venue.

No comments: