Night Life Bolton Road Corner, Lower Rosebank: Get ready for First Thursdays

Get ready for “First Thursdays” 

Goodman Gallery and the so-called Jan Smuts Art Strip

Goodman Gallery on Jan Smuts Ave
Goodman Gallery on Jan Smuts Ave. Source image: Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

The doyen of contemporary South African art in Johannesburg is the Goodman Gallery. Started by Linda Givon in 1966, it provided a stable for critically informed, contemporary artists in a time of Apartheid repression and then cultural isolation.  The Gallery was bought by Lisa Essers in 2008 and has remained one of the leading cutting-edge contemporary galleries.

In mid 2015 the successful Cape Town concept of First Thursdays, when galleries stay open until late in the evening, was started in Braamfontein.   It was soon adopted by Parkwood galleries included David Krut, Lizamore and Associates, (which has now moved),  Gallery 2, and Goodman Gallery.   The concept was strengthened in 2016  when the Trumpet building opened next to Circa with, appropriately, a great fanfare., branding itself (along with Circa on Jellicoe and Everard Read Gallery) as the Keyes Art MileBut of course post the Lockdown restrictions of March 2020, First Thursdays were no longer …. but watch his space. Jozi and the Rosebank art scene is awakening with a stretch and a yawn soon to become a roar.  

Night-Life at Bolton Corner 

Morning Glory

On Jan Smuts Ave   The First Thursdays brand for the Parkwood galleries was strengthened by the opening of several restaurants on the Bolton corner.  The cluster of hip bars and eateries on Jan Smuts Ave buzz until late  at night and appeal (as Johannesburg In your Pocket tactfully word it),to the “energetic crowd”!  These quirky venues have flirtatious names like Morning Glory  (“with the sexiest coffee on the block”), its sister venue Edge of Glory – “anti-fancy is the name of the game through easy-eating  without any shame”; Streetbar Named Desire famous for its Tennessee Williams cocktails and range of scrummy tapas; and Saigon Suzy with its private karaoke rooms and delicious Vietnamese food.   

Streetbar Named Desire

Around the corner on Bolton Road are several more bars and eateries.  Rising Tide was brave indeed, launching for its “maiden voyage” in September 2021: “Lift the anchor and raise the sails, Rosebank’s tiki bar is ready to set sail!”  The huge octopus mural introduces the nautical ‘under the sea’ theme which is carried through in the #TropicalCocktailes and #Islandvibes. 

Detail of the psychedelic octopus mural
#Tropicalcocktails #islandvibes #tikibar at Rising Tide, Bolton Corner

Buns Out had to close during the 4th level 4th Lockdown in July 2021.  But they have now re-opened, so ignore all the articles on-line telling you they have closed permanently. Burgers and chips are back on the menu – best value, best burgers!  

Next door is Coalition Pizza, the brainchild of Shayne Holt. Serving a limited choice of  deliciously authentic Neapolitan two-day-risen sourdough pizzas, Shayne’s simple formula is a winner. So much of a winner in fact that another branch has opened at Delta Central in Blairgowrie bordering on Craighall Park.  

Sintax Bar And then there is a small hole in the wall in the alley. When I visited back in 2017  I was told in exaggerated hushed tones it was a ‘secret bar’ and I mustn’t tell ANYBODY. What better way to spread the word than to tell people it’s a secret!   So successful has the marketing been, that in 2019 Sintax (aka Sin+tax) was voted one of the World’s 50 Best Bars  

The ‘secret’ bar ‘Sin+Tax’ also has a glass fronted wine cellar.

Bar Ber Blacksheep: I popped in to this little space late one afternoon not knowing what to expect. And the retro look with tiled ceiling sections, leather-studded couches and a feature wall with memorabilia from a bygone era, was certainly unexpected.  I tried to make sense of the barber section on the one side with beautiful big leather salon chairs and a fully stocked working bar in another corner. But hey – why not have a whisky or a cocktail while having your haircut – might make for real adventurous makeovers! And you can even order a pizza from Coalition. The barber shop opens from 7 am to 7pm and the bar from whenever till late!

Bar Ber Black Sheep – funky, quirky, stylish
The elephant graffiti has got a little tired now but it marks the spot where there is available safe parking.

So watch out for the start of First Thursdays or … if you are one of the ‘energetic’ (read “younger”) crowd … enjoy some cocktails at one of the bars and settle in for some karaoke (or not!) and pho and bao buns at Saigon Suzy. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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