The nightlife in Johannesburg has long been the envy of all other major cities in the country. And, despite the fact that the city has a reputation for being unsafe, if you stick to the recommended districts, you should be able to enjoy trouble free evenings which usually run into very late nights or very early mornings, depending on how you define yours.
For those of you who like nothing better than using up surplus energy in a thumping nightclub, head to Hillbrow and Yeoville where you will find some of the best clubs in the city. As well as a variety of clubs, however, there is also a wonderful mix of music on offer. From that which you listen to back home to the unique traditional African sounds of mbaganga, kwaito and soukuos, a visit to a Johannesburg club is something that any visitor should try at least once. And, after the first time, rest assured you will keep going back for more.
The city also has an excellent selection of live theatre and performing arts. There is a performance on somewhere every night so if comedy or cabaret are your idea of a good night out, be sure to check out one of the multitude of theatres in the city. For up to date details on all shows you should check out the Johannesburg Star and also inquire about the area before you buy your tickets.
Johannesburg is also home to some of the best jazz clubs in the country and again, there are live gigs on somewhere every night. Playing host to both national and international stars, these are an excellent choice for a more relaxed evening out but if you find it too relaxed, there’s always a club near by too. For information on jazz and for all live entertainment in the city, the Daily Mail and Guardian has an excellent guide every Thursday.
* Downtown Johannesburg is dangerous, particularly at night, so you should try to avoid it at all costs. Also, when going out at night ask someone who knows about an area if it’s safe before you leave and call a taxi to take you there and back. And, try not to look like a tourist, don’t carry a camera around your neck or wear a moneybelt and don’t hang your bag on your shoulder either as it would appear that this is perceived as an open invitation to snatch it. If you remember these simple points, your stay in the city will be a pleasant one and it would be a pity to jeopardise this through carelessness.
Market Theatre Complex, Bree Street, Johannesburg, South Africa
Specialising in local jazz and traditional African music, this is one of the best live music venues in the city. Best to go at the weekend as gigs are usually from Thursday to Saturday.
20 Main Road, Melville, Johannesburg, South Africa
With five bars and three different dance floors, this is a particular favourite with the youth of the city. Also has a roof garden which is open to the clientele. And best news of all is that drinks are free between 8.00pm and 10.00pm on Thursday.
282 Louis Botha Avenue, Orange Grove, Johannesburg, South Africa
One of the oldest bars in Johannesburg, this establishment attracts an interesting mix of locals and visitors which is usually a guarantee for an interesting evening out. Also serves cheap but delicious food which is another good reason to visit.
No. 7 7th Street, Melville, Johannesburg, South Africa
One of the best live music venues in South Africa, Bassline plays host to some of the biggest names in jazz in the world. Bookings are essential.
12 Henri Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg, South Africa
Popular gay club with live drag cabaret on Wednesdays but with a generally crazy atmosphere every night of the week. Good thing you can head into the courtyard to unwind if it all becomes too much.
Corner of Jan Smuts & Wells Street, Johannesburg, South Africa
For the ultimate night out a traditional Mexican haunt usually does the trick and Cantina Tequila is no exception. From the excellent food to the even better margaritas, be prepared to party.
206 Louis Botha Avenue, Orange Grove, Johannesburg, South Africa
Taking a modern approach to jazz as well as an eclectic mix of hip hop and rhythm and blues, this is one of the funkiest venues in the city. Also has two sister bars the 208 Bar just two doors up and Unda the Counta which is another two doors up.
Corner of Kotze & Claim Street, Johannesburg, South Africa
A club with a difference where you will get to hear some tunes with a difference, that’s unless you have a penchant for traditional African music clubs. A good alternative to the usual but area is a little suspect so take a cab there and back.
109 Sivewright Avenue, Ellis Park, Johannesburg, South Africa
Johannesburg’s oldest theatre, the Alhambra Theatre welcomes comedians from all over the world and is a good alternative to the pub and club scene for those of you who like to experience even a little bit of culture on your travels.