There was a time when the Newtown precinct in Johannesburg was a hub of high culture. At the Market Theatre, three productions would be running to full houses, with thespians ranging from Siyabonga Twala to Nomsa Nene and Ramolao Makhene to Thembi Mtshali showing their talents. Eric Miyeni would be shouting down everybody at the Yard of Ale. Across the road at Niki’s Oasis, jazz cats including Khaya Mahlangu would be keeping the fires burning. At Kippies jazz club, Hugh Masekela would be having people in stitches with his tales of debauchery in the US. If you were into hard rock, you would crawl over to Carfax where youngsters with painted faces and tattoos to make Lil Wayne cringe would be doing their thing. Food, everything from bunny chow to succulent steak, was excellent at Gramadoelas. If you were into indigenous cuisine you’d have your umngqusho and upense at Niki’s. Almost every weekend, people came out in their numbers, dressed to the nines, conversing in all imaginable lang...

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