What Happens When You Hang Out in the Pretoria Suburbs

There’s something beautifully weird about the Pretoria suburbs, and I like it.

Speed bumps, robots, robots out (and the patient/intuitive process that has to kick in to make your way across the intersection). Taxi’s reversing on Charles/Justice Mohammed Street. The way no one really knows who to give way to in a traffic circle. The flowering trees.

There are all of these things, but they’re just what I notice when I drive around in the Pretoria suburbs by myself. Hanging out with other people in them is a different story.

So while many people might have been smart and planned to get out of the city over the Heritage Day long weekend, I stayed, and had some thoughts about all the places I spent some time in during it.

Thoughts on Hanging out in the Pretoria Suburbs over the Heritage Day Long Weekend

Hanging out at the club

I don’t think clubs are a uniquely Pretoria phenomenon, but I spent time in two of these kinds of establishments over the weekend, so I feel like they might be particularly popular here (and in many other African cities).

I think it might be a colonial or expat tradition that happens whenever a group of people leave a place, and miss it, so they need to create a place where they can reminisce and enjoy it again, together. And build a community there.

The same applies to people who haven’t actually even physically left a place, but who had so much fun at school that they needed to have a place to hang out with all the people they had so much fun at school with, after school.

I’m referring specifically to the Pretoria High School Old Boys Club in Lynnwood here, which is actually an impressive place when I think about it.

I mean, I didn’t even go there. But for some reason I’ve been drawn there on many occasions over the last decade(s)- mostly because of other people I know who still want to have fun with all the people they went to school with there.

Checking Out the Friday Feast Market

Actually though, the main reason I went to the club was because I saw the bi-monthly Friday Feast market being advertised on pole at an intersection in Hazelwood (where there is usually a man on crutches standing next to me while I’m stopped at the red light).

I figured they’d have good food there, and I wasn’t wrong. Firstly, there was Eisbein the size of a small child’s head. There were also Dough lamb pitas (which I have been a fan of for years) and Belgian croquettes (the beer and beef flavour is good).

Sizeable Eisbein at the Friday Feast Market

When we arrived though, I felt super weird. Probably because I knew I’d probably run into some people I know from a long time ago (which I did- thankfully a friend from primary school who was there with her family).

I think it felt so strange to be visiting a place that I didn’t really have a connection with, apart from my brothers having gone to the school, and having got drunk there a handful of times with other people who went to Boys High.

(Most notably at my Matric Dance after party, where the cops shut down the party at 2am after people starting hosing down the nearby squash courts. How they ever rented that venue out to us in the first place, I’ll never know).

But even despite my own self-consciousness, I can really appreciate the fact that there’s a place where a cricket team from the 80’s still has an honourary place on the wall in the corridor next to the bathrooms, and where beer that’s being made my an old boy (Zwakala) is promoted.

Also, any place where solo acts, like Paul Anthony, do 70’s song covers, and where the barman knows the PIN for a regular’s credit card, seems like a fun place to me.

And then there’s the CSI

Not the show with the red-headed guy with the super cringe one-liners, but the Club Sociale di Italiano, which in English, is the Italian club next to the Virgin Active in Groenkloof, Pretoria.

I go there a lot, especially for the gnocchi with salsiccia (potato dumpling pasta with sausage sauce), but also because my mom’s best friend Bruna, from Bruna’s Italian, has thoroughly converted my family’s food tastes over the past thirty years or so.

So I often go there with my family, and really appreciate the fact that there’s always a friendly welcome at the door by the owners, and that I can order the gnocchi salsiccia (even though it isn’t technically on the menu).

(Sidenote: There is also the Cremelat Italian deli underneath the restaurant on Fridays and Saturdays where you can buy dope imported cheeses, pasta sauce and pre-made frozen ravioli).

But even though I go there regularly anyway, the main reason my father and I went to this Pretoria suburbs institution on Saturday was that we knew they would be showing the rugby on a big screen.

Thoughts on becoming a super huge rugby fan

I don’t know what has come over me, but since seeing the Springboks play live two months ago for the first time, I’m now the kind of person who goes to watch rugby with their father at a club in suburban Pretoria.

And wears an old long-sleeved Springbok rugby jersey to show their support, even in the summer heat.

The kind of person who, for whatever unknown reason, has now also started shouting at the screen and getting very emotionally involved in a game that I previously didn’t think I was interested in at all.

I’ve even started to understand some of the different game elements. The line outs, the scrum, and even some of the rules.

It’s even got to the point where I’m that person complaining later to their friends about the game, even though I know they didn’t watch it.

But I guess that’s what happens when you hang out in the eastern Pretoria suburbs for a long time. And actually, even though I’ve spent a lot of time away from them over the years, I really don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Do you also find that hanging out in the suburbs where you live is starting to have an effect on you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! Thoughts about the rugby also welcome.

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