It was a promising start for First Thursdays; deep within the bowels of Cape Town’s urban CBD centre, millennials meandered around, babbling in tongues of various languages, be it European, African or technological.
Me and everything that is good about my life walked around, and I was immediately reminded by Louis CK’s sketch about coffeeshop patrons with their sneery chat, “bleghbleghblegh I know bleghblegh Obama.”
I loved it in a way, it was intoxicating. Unlike walking through a shopping mall or train station, where humans hating just…being, or existing, the lawyers going to small claims court or the cashiers starting their second shift at another branch, these denizens of the urban underworld were writers, creatives, artists, photographers, bloggers, travel upstarts, trust fund babies and makeshift Martians.
I first thought they were disgusting in some way; who could walk around with an air of contentment for spending over R100 a time on a single piece of entertainment and nourishment, like R40 for a badly-brewed beer or R120 for a “grass-fed” burger patty.
And then I realised again, that they were beautiful BECAUSE they were happy. Each one with a ingenuously sculpted face were, of course, stunning to look at. But the not-so-sculpted, the ugly bastards who wouldn’t have gotten a single view in my high school, were so enlightened that they enjoyed their own space amongst unequals, and the beauty shown through.
Each one had an opinion, a thought, or a verse they heard from a poem they happen to read NOT on a motivational post but instead in a book they saw in their grandfather’s study. They mentioned the blockbusters in the movies as much as film festival underdog they perchance walked into when they weren’t sure where to look.
And the bustling bustle bustled. I couldn’t understand the art galleries that opened to the public, until realising that it wasn’t about the art. Sure, the pieces on some of the walls we ventured were overpriced (R14,500 for a picture of a woman surrounded by bubblegum wrappers, anyone?) but it added to the conversation somehow, and without a second venture I leered into the canvas.
First Thursdays, from a marketing point of view, is successful for the venues that open their hearts and facilities to the influencers that visit them. But for the plebiscites, it offers a reminder that beauty is certainly skin-deep…and yet also within the soul.