I’ve been a resident of the capital city for almost 17 years. I have to admit that I love living in Pretoria. It has the hustle and bustle of a modern metropolis, but it also has a small-town feel to it. It’s not as busy as Johannesburg, not as chilled out as Cape Town or Durban and contrary to popular belief, there’s actually stuff to do on the weekends.
Getting from place to place also takes a lot less time in Pretoria than in Johannesburg. Pretoria is the 4th largest city in South Africa behind Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. More than 2.3 million people live in the Tswane metro area (about 1.2 million people less than Johannesburg).
Today I’m going to point out 6 reasons why Pretoria is NOT a boring city. I am pretty sure that those of you reading this article who live in Pretoria will agree with me and those of you not living in Pretoria will feel informed after reading this post.
Reason One – Arcade Empire: This live music / party venue has cemented itself as one of the best entertainment venues in Gauteng over the last 2 years. Arcade Empire hosts three to four events weekly. Wednesday nights are acoustic nights and entrance is free, on Thursdays they have a buy-one-get-one-free pizza special on and on Fridays and Saturdays the people of Gauteng have the opportunity to see some of the best live bands / artists or DJ’s in action.
Arcade Empire also hosts the KAKFunny Stand-up Comedy sessions every last Thursday of the month. They have a Quiz Nite once a month and they host a FIFA tournament (for all the hardcore gamers out there). The place has a fun and electric vibe, the food and booze is priced reasonably and the cover charge for events is not too expensive.
The venue has space for 1400 people so it’s doesn’t always feel crowded – the live performance area alone can support 1000 people. The three bars, 1980’s style Arcade Game machines, foosball tables, pool tables and beer pong tables also enhances your experience. It’s definitely one of the places you should check out in Pretoria.
Arcade Empire is located at 265 The Highway Street, Equestria (just outside the Grove Mall). Check out the Arcade Empire Facebook page or follow @ArcadeEmpire on Twitter for info about upcoming events and more.
Reason Two – Aandklas Hatfield: This is my favorite bar / local pub in Pretoria. Aandklas Hatfield has happy hour specials on Tuesday and Thursday nights. They also host a Quiz night every week on Wednesday nights. A lot of students from the University of Pretoria hang out in Aandklas Hatfield, but older regulars still make up a huge part of their clientele.
Aandklas Hatfield also hosts live gigs. Bands like Die Tuindwergies, Van Coke Kartel, Wrestlerish and others have performed here over the last few months. The venue also hosts Attrition (a goth / EBM party featuring an awesome cocktail special) every first Sunday of the month, a legendary Halloween party annually and has hosted two truly epic cleavage day celebrations over the last three years. There’s always something interesting happening in “Die Klas”, just ask any right-minded Pretorian out there and they’ll tell you.
The food is reasonably priced and tasty. A 500 gram T-Bone, chips and a free local beer will only set you back R65 or you could tantalize your taste buds with some chicken strips for only R40. And last but not least, the booze is very cheap. Most shooters sell for around R10, local beers and ciders sell for between R16 and R20 and a brandy and Coke will only set you back R21.
Aandklas Hatfield is located behind Hatfield Square on the corner of Prospect and Hilda Streets. It’s only 3 blocks from the Gautrain Hatfield Station, 2 blocks from the University of Pretoria and 15 minutes walk from Loftus Versveld. Check out the Aandklas Hatfield page on Facebook or follow @Aandklas_Pta on Twitter for updates about future events and more.
Reason Three – Lucky Rodigo: This is one of my favorite restaurants in Pretoria. Lucky Rodigo caters for people of all ages and has one of the most chilled out vibes. The atmosphere is very relaxed and the decor is amazing.
The most amazing thing about Lucky Rodigo is their menu. They have one of the best breakfasts in Pretoria, their cappuccinos and coffees are divine and they have a wide selection of tasty burgers, delicious sandwiches, amazing hot dogs and other culinary delights that will blow your taste buds away.
Lucky Rodigo is located on the corner of Alpine Way and The Hillside Street in Menlo Park (close to the Atterbury Offramp on the N1 highway). For more information, check out the Lucky Rodigo Facebook page.
Reason Four – Park Acoustics: This is one of my favorite pass times on Sundays. Park Acoustics takes place once a month and features 5 of the best live acts that SA Music has to offer and 4 of the best stand-up comedians in the country. Tickets are priced reasonably (usually less R100).
The vibe is chilled out but Park Acoustics has a tendency to turn into a mini Sunday party sometimes. This event has been going on for almost 3 years and has showcased brilliant live acts like Dan Patlansky, Koos Kombuis, Yoav, Matthew Mole, Fokofpolisiekar, Southern Gypsey Queen, Die Tuindwergies, Die Heuwels Fantasties and others. It’s the perfect way to spend a chilled out Sunday. It has become one of the most popular events in Gauteng in recent times. The last 4 Park Acoustics events sold out.
Park Acoustics is held at Fort Schanskop at the Voortrekker Monument on the last Sunday of the month. Braaiboy is on hand to braai your meat, there’s also a Postbox exhibition and the venue offers the best views and sunset in the Capital City. Capacity is limited to 2000 people, so if you decide to go, make sure that you buy your tickets in advance.
Reason Five – Tings an’ Times: This is another one of my favorite restaurants / venues in Pretoria. Tings an’ Times has been a Pretoria institution since 1996.
The vibe is chilled out and and the decor is amazing. Booze is reasonably priced and they have one of the most unique menus in the whole of South Africa. They have a banana shake (with real bananas in it), a long list of shooters and cocktails and the best schwarmas that money can buy. If you’re ever visit this magical venue, you have to try the Bob Marley schwarma – take my word for it.
The original Tings an’ Times was located in Hatfield. At one stage there were two branches, but due to social and economic chances in Pretoria, one of them had to close down. Since December 2012 the only Tings an’ Times branch is located at that Waterglen Shopping Center in Garsfontein Road (close to Menlyn Park shopping center).
Tings an’ Times hosts live acoustic gigs from to time on Sundays. Space is limited so booking in advance is advised. For more information check out the Tings an’ Times Facebook page.
Reason Six – Tuks FM 107.2: This is my favorite radio station in the capital city. Tuks FM 107.2 has been around for more than 30 years and is South Africa’s only true Rock Music Station.
Many of the top radio jocks and personalities in the country started their careers at Tuks FM: Rob Forbes (5FM), Kim Schultze (5FM), Gareth Cliff (5FM), Samson Oduntan (East Coast Radio), Francois Du Toit (Jacaranda FM), Ilze Marie Meintjies (Jacaranda FM), Rian van Heerden (Jacaranda FM), Alex Caige (Highveld Stereo), Anele (Highveld Stereo), Nolz van der Merwe (OFM) and others.
The Tuks FM 107.2 playlist is made up for 40% South African music and 60% International Rock Music. They also have something called “Total Radio Takeover” every hour on the hour (a service offering listeners a chance to request songs), the “Retro Riffs” show on Sundays featuring the best classic rock tracks for two hours and other awesome shows and features like “The Man Cave”, the Tuks FM Top 30 and the SA Top 10.
At the end of 2012 Tuks FM 107.2 strengthened their signal. Most of the people of Gauteng can now tune in to listen to one of South Africa’s best community radio stations. Tune into 107.2 FM if you’re stuck in traffic somewhere in Gauteng – it will blow your mind, guaranteed.
Tuks FM 107.2 also host some of the best parties and the best New Year’s Party in the capital city, so try not to miss out. For more information, check out the Tuks FM 107.2 website, the Tuks FM 107.2 Facebook page or follow @TuksFM1072 on Twitter.
There you have it, 6 reasons why Pretoria is NOT a boring city. I hope that this post has convinced some of you and that most of you have found this post to be entertaining and insightful. Feel free to share this article on Facebook and Twitter if it has had this effect on you.
Watch this space for regular updates in the Opinion and Music category on Running Wolf’s Rant.