Thursdays are sort of the start of the weekend in Joburg. The city is always abuzz as people ready themselves for the festivities of the weekend ahead. One of the ways to prepare in a way that won’t leave you questioning your life choices while sitting in a meeting on Friday morning is First Thursdays. First Thursdays is a great concept where on the first Thursday of every month people get to walk through the streets of a neighbourhood exploring surrounding art galleries, taking in cultural attractions and sometimes there’s an opportunity to listen to the sweet sounds of talented artists.
This initiative began in Cape Town and after a while found its way to Joburg. When I heard First Thursdays was coming to my city I was ecstatic because when I had just moved back to Joburg from Cape Town I found myself complaining that there weren’t enough ‘cultural’ events in Joburg to feed my creative soul. However through the years I’ve discovered that there’s actually plenty to see and do in this concrete jungle, one simply just has to look around and keep their ear to the ground.
First Thursdays in Joburg has evolved quite a bit since it started. Braamfontein used to be the only area you could explore. With a map in hand that plots out the different galleries and attractions one can visit people would bounce around on foot from the Wits Art Museum, to the Stevenson Gallery and make a stop at Neighbourgoods on their way to The Orbit Jazz Club. Now you can see so much more of the cultural scene in Joburg with the expansion of First Thursdays to Newtown Precinct – where you can go on a Newton Graffiti Tour or watch a play at the Market Theatre – and Rosebank – where you can pick up a book from the David Krut Bookstore or be stirred by the work exhibited at the Goodman Gallery.
I’ve been to several First Thursdays over the past year and every outing has been a different adventure. You’d think that after going two or three times you’d kind of get the gist but it just doesn’t get old. The point isn’t to rush from one place to the next, you’re meant to take it all in and immerse yourself in the experience which means you won’t see it all the first time, or even the second nor the third. One of the things I really love about First Thursdays besides the inspiring and sometimes strange work you encounter is the ability to discover the city in a different way. What I love most though is energy that folks there give off. Every now and again you’ll hear people having arguments about the meaning behind a piece of work, others are running after friends who have moved on to the next venue, some are sitting outside a restaurant enjoying a drink, many are laughing and appreciating the company they’re with or chatting to the people they have just met.
If you’re anything like me it’s the interaction with all types of interesting people from the hipsters to the cool kids, the foreigners to the professionals that will make going to First Thursdays that much more enticing, especially with the ample choice of things to do on a Thursday in my Joburg.
The exhibitions and areas of interest change month to month so you can either be spontaneous and just pick a point to start at and then get a map along the way or if you like to be more organised you can have a look at the highlights for that particular Thursday on the First Thursdays website http://www.first-thursdays.co.za/ or check out their Facebook page for any other updates.