The Performing Arts
The Market Theatre, 56 Margaret Mcingana St., Newtown (tel. 011/832-1641; www.markettheatre.co.za), is famous for having spawned a generation of protest theater and is likely to have a good selection of local talent. The Johannesburg Civic Theatre, Loveday Street, Braamfontein (tel. 011/877-6800; www.showbusiness.co.za), is one of the largest and most technologically advanced theaters in the country; this is where large-scale musicals, operas, dance, and orchestral music are performed. The Wits Theatre Complex, corner of Jorissen and Station streets, Braamfontein (tel. 011/717-1372), attracts a wide variety of local and international theater talent, including good dance productions; quality varies, so be informed. For current listings for all these venues and more, check out the daily "Tonight" section in The Star and the weekly Mail & Guardian (www.mg.co.za). Tickets can usually be booked and bought by phone; call Computicket (tel. 083/915-8000, 083/131, or 011/340-8000; www.computicket.com; Mon-Sat 8am-8pm).
The Club, Bar & Music Scene
In a city where work is everything, social interaction is an important distraction. You'll discover a seemingly endless selection and variety of bars, pubs, clubs, and downright sleazy drinking holes. If you like to club- or bar-hop, several areas have a concentration of options -- in fact, cruising from venue to venue is a popular pastime after dark, spawning the label "Jo'burg Joller" (Johannesburg party animal), signifying unofficial membership to the city's heavyweight party clique. Many of the larger clubs are in otherwise missable neighborhoods and require some driving to reach. To experience Jo'burg's broad social mix almost entirely on foot, consider spending the night out in Melville's 7th Avenue, close to central Johannesburg. It's becoming increasingly hard-core, so don't come if you're nervous, as mentioned elsewhere. Stick to where there are plenty of people, such as 7th Street (or head for nearby Roka, in laid-back Milpark). Replacing Melville for many, Newtown (www.newtown.co.za), home of the Market Theatre Precinct, is now the destination for those in search of a good time, whether they hail from the suburbs or the townships; the best are reviewed below. For up-to-the minute news of what's hot and what's happening, navigate to www.jhblive.com, an excellent site with reviews of most of Jozi's entertainment spots and information on upcoming events.
Tips -- If you're a jazz aficionado, some names to watch for are Gloria Bosman, African Jazz Pioneers, Feya Faku, the Sheer All Stars, Andile Yenana, Sipho Mabuse, Lulu Gontsana, Bheki Mbatha, Khaya Mahlangu, Barney Rachabane, Oscar Rachabane, Octavia Rachabane, Herbie Tsoaeli, McCoy Mrubata, Zim Ngqawana, Louis Mhlanga, Linda Kekana, Moses Khumalo, and Pops Mohamed. Kwaito acts to look for are Brothers of Peace (BOP), Mandoza, Mafikizolo, Zola, M'Du, Mzekezeke, Kabelo, Mapaputsi, Bongo Maffin, and Mzambiya.
Newtown/City Central -- Besides the club options reviewed, look for events (from ripping DJ-hosted parties to arty exhibitions that evolve into late-night grooving) hosted at Lemon8, 38 Roger St., Selby (tel. 011/493-4887; www.lemon8.co.za), a sleek venue in the city. Go Go Bar, at the corner of Henry Nxumalo Street and Bree Street (tel. 071/183-8777), is currently closed for refurbishment but worth a strut, playing a great mix of funk, afrobeat, experimental beats, dance, and live music (strictly no house music). Kippies International, the city's oldest jazz club, is allegedly moving back to its laid-back downtown venue in the Market Theatre complex; it's a worthwhile pilgrimage for jazz lovers, though Bassline has basically stolen its thunder.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.