Joburg has an area that’s sometimes referred to as the Golden Circle. I’m not sure if this is a commonly used term but it’s basically the heart of the city that’s surrounded by the M2, N1 and N3 (or is it the M1? In which case I’m out of the circle). As one ventures out of this area, the number trees declines in direct proportion to average IQ of the area’s inhabitants. Ok, that’s not true, and a bit harsh, but I have a serious dislike of the typical Tuscan/Balinese inspired SummerCON developments that tend to blanket the landscape.
It’s clear that there are many others who share this view about the Golden Circle. They may call it the Shooter Curtain, but the sentiment is the same. This from here:
There’s a divide in Joburg. Quite a big one, in fact. I’d become aware of it some months ago, but it was only the other day when a friend of mine, formerly resident in Sunninghill, now in Craighall Park, celebrated the fact that he’d managed to escape the deadening ennui that characterises much of the north in Joburg.
The Shooter Curtain, he called it. Just like the Boerewors Curtain, but with tequila. Beyond it is a land of sales managers in chinos and theme pubs and those thatched Summercon developments, the ones with lofts and parking spots and names like “Serengeti”. It’s where people with names like Craig and Wayne who work in IT – Ah tee – get trashed and boast about it the next day, hence the name. Where variations on Long Island Iced Tea are listed in the cocktail menus in Newscafe. Where chicks from the East Rand – there be dragons; people from Sandton never venture there unless it’s to catch a plane – hang out with the hopes of catching a consultant or an investment banker.
The Shooter Curtain is an allegorical divide but it can generally be traced alongside the highway that loops around Joburg, dividing the older city from newer developments. Its heart lies in suburbs like Fourways and Sunninghill, though it can be extended further north to Centurion and west to the vast, awful swathes of soulless development that stretch from Featherbrooke to Northgate.
In my experience the actual physical divide between those who dwell behind the Shooter Curtain and those who would never venture beyond it is the Hyde Park Shopping Centre, specifically the bar at the Southern Sun hotel. People from the older Joburg suburbs will go there to have a drink and view the BEE types on their phones, as will those who live in thatched lofts with 1.5 bathrooms and 2 parking spaces. So far and no further though. I know people who think that Rosebank is terrifyingly far south and wouldn’t dream of going there lest they, I don’t know, encounter an emperor penguin or something. On the other hand, there are the people who are just as adamant they will never set foot in what another friend of mine calls the Northern Wastelands.
Some people (like me) routinely step over the line, so I’ll pretend I fit in with the impossibly cool people at The Office in Greenside as easily as I’ll pretend to fit in with the aggressively mainstream Bryanston types at the Baron on Main.
Still, I can see that the difference is stark. It’s not just geographical, of course: it’s a mindset too. People who live before the Shooter Curtain furnish their homes with Nguni cowhides and Eames chairs (mind you, Sevens sold a perfectly good Chinese knockoff of the Eames lounger at a fraction of the cost of the replica a while back; I bought one for the ex and it’s one of the few pieces of furniture he sent to Australia). Beyond it is a land of 42 inch LED TVs and jetskis, bring and braais and uncritical thinking, if any thinking takes place at all.
Beyond the Shooter Curtain it’s Hooters and Billy the Bums and Montecasino. Before it’s 44 Stanley Avenue and Tokyo Star. It’s drinking coffee while squashed on a pavement inhaling petrol fumes. It’s gentrification and art galleries. Beyond the Shooter Curtain it’s Tuscan. Before the Shooter Curtain it’s African eclectic. Beyond the Shooter Curtain it’s shopping malls and value marts; before the Shooter Curtain the smell of pee in the streets of Melville. Beyond the Shooter Curtain, it’s GTis and double cabs; before it, Vespas and walking the dogs in the street in a community that isn’t gated. Beyond the Shooter Curtain there’s acres of parking; before it, no effing parking to be found anywhere on a Wednesday night, even if the suburb is called Parkhurst. Beyond, it’s Nickelback; before, Youssou N’dour. KFC, organic; Edgars, Big Blue, and so on.
Of course, there are people on either side of the Shooter Curtain who don’t conform to the stereotypes of either Pleasantville or Poser Town. One can live in one and be a resident, in spirit, of the other. But for the most part the divide holds firm, and the people on either side are perfectly happy where they are.
Round of Patrón for everyone.