I woke up this morning with the intention of blogging about The 2012 GQ Style Awards which I attended for the first time last night. But I've been listening to beautiful music and reading wonderful heart warming articles and I would like to maintain my good mood for the day.
So instead I will fish from the pond of positive and sensible things and tell you about V.I.N.T.A.G.E Cru - the adorable dance crew that's currently making waves on South Africa's small screens, stages and any surface that can accommodate the seven dancers and their bodacious personalities. I had the pleasure of meeting these guys in June when W Magazine interviewed them for an article they were doing on Johannesburg.
We were all crammed in a dirty booth at Kitcheners on a freezing Tuesday evening and I was watching this gaudy scene with awe as they shyly articulated the spelling their names out to the Tim, the writer. The first feeling I remember feeling while listening to them tell their story was the feeling of being old. They are between the ages of 18 and 24 and they are so much more confident and sassy about themselves as I was at that age. The second feeling was warmth. They made me feel so good about being African. Their take us or leave us alone attitude is palpable in how they strut instead of walk and how all of the boys can out-neck and out-hairflick all the girls when they speak. I see them around town whenever I'm out, one can't really miss them, especially when they are in a group. They admit they face hostility from taxi drivers and heterosexual men whenever they have to go to Noord or Bree Street Taxi Rank because of how they dress but they feel safer in bigger numbers.
Their mama bear as they call her, is Manthe Ribane, one of the lead dancers and someone who has a future as bright as her daily ensembles. I first met Manthe in 2008 when she was 20 years old. She was one of the people that showed up to Maponya Mall when I asked a group of these sassy dressing Soweto kids that I had been seeing all over town to all meet me on a Sunday afternoon because I thought they were interesting and I wanted to do a story on them. That day, the Smarteez as a subculture was born and Manthe and her friends were the perfect prototypes of a new generation of young South Africans, ones that didn't have the burden trying to be anything else but their young free selves, living in a society that begs for and celebrates the self awareness of youth. This is what she , Robyn, Errol, Lee-Che, Tarryn, Fallon, Ashwin and Lebo represent, the freedom that was hard fought for. Despite major problems that we still face in education, employment and health care in South Africa, the spirit that dances with these dancers tells a different story, the story we all want to see about who we are. When I watch this video, a smile races to my face so fast that all I think of are the eternal words of Thembi Seete ''I don't know what can I do with myself''.
I stole these pictures of them from Facebook.
Manthe, the original Smartee is their stylist.