Watching the sun go down on a warm spring day while listening to soundtracks playing on headphones, dozens of people on Sunday danced in a mountain top park in South Africa’s economic capital of Johannesburg. It’s a budding urban craze spawned by the coronavirus pandemic lockdown which shuttered night clubs in South Africa, the country hardest hit on the continent. President Cyril Ramaphosa last week eased national Covid-19 restrictions to the lowest level ever, allowing larger gatherings.
“People are (still) very hesitant about going into clubs and indoor spaces, even though it’s allowed now,” said organiser Franck Leya, 27. “Being an open place like this, it’s not a club… everybody is out, and there is a certain level of social distance automatically without obviously having to tell people,” he said. One Sunday a month, revellers dance away the day in the open air while enjoying a 360-degree panoramic view of the city from Northcliff Ridge Ecopark, one of highest points in Johannesburg.
Dancing with three friends, Jacqueline Jennings breathed a sigh of relief that finally she could enjoy a fun day out after nearly 18 months of lockdown. “It feels like we haven’t partied before, it feels so good to be out,” said the 42-year-old guest lodge owner. “It feels like being on top of God’s garden.” “The silent disco is divine, it’s the most beautiful house music,” she said, adding, it’s “a big jol” using South African slang for clubbing or partying.
Gordon Sekome, 25, who works for an audit firm was strolling in the quiet park with his partner when they saw people dancing, but no music speakers around. “I was wondering ‘why do they all have the same brand of earphones and there is no music around?’,” Sekome said. “This is an experience anyone can enjoy. This is super cool” he said after sampling the music. Vaccinated revelers enjoy a discounted rate, said Leya. With more than 2.9 million infections and 87,780 deaths, South Africa accounts for around 35 percent of the continental cases. The government is working to vaccinate as many as possible to achieve population immunity. – AFP