One of these hidden gems is Molo Mollo, a pop-up rooftop cinema that provides an alternative to Ster Kinekor and Nu Metro. To get there, however, you have to make it through the city’s labyrinth of construction work, blind alleys and one way streets. Finding parking is the first challenge. Your clue is a Totalsports, signalling you to turn right immediately, up a ramp, to the safe house where you will leave your car for the night.
A security guard signals you to follow him up a flight of stairs, through a tiny shopping centre, across a walkway to the glass doors of Bank Towers. You’re thinking “maybe I should just go back, go to the mall like other people” when he tells you to “take the lift to floor six, use the stairs on your right and then turn left.”
The view when you get upstairs is stunning. From up there Pretoria doesn’t look so intimidating anymore. “Molo Mollo creates alternative city experiences. It goes further than just cinema,” says Carla Taljaard, co-founder and organiser of Molo Mollo.
On Wednesday night Jaco van der Merwe from Bittereinder was showcasing a handful of his favourite music videos. You can buy refreshments and popcorn, or even take your own beer and wine along. Spread across the roof on camping chairs and picnic blankets are young adults and students alike enjoying some very unconventional music videos.
“This is extremely cool. It’s a great venue. It’s so nice here on the roof, especially now that it’s not so cold anymore. Cool screen, cool sounds. The only thing that could bother you are the aeroplanes flying overhead,” says Van der Merwe.
Michael Kruger, a mechanical engineer, has been to the rooftop cinema twice and says, “It’s really nice to come into the city like this. Everyone is always saying how dangerous it is, that sort of nonsense. But here we are, in the middle of the city, in the middle of the night and it’s awesome. I recommend everyone to come here.”
Molo Mollo has film screenings the first two Wednesdays of every month. Their next few events will be happening in collaboration with Cool Capital, which is hosting 87 events in and around Pretoria from 29 August to 16 November. “16 November is an important date as it is Pretoria’s birthday,” says Taljaard.
In conjunction with Impac, another non-profit cinema club, they will be screening cult silent movies with soundtracks provided by live artists. In October they will be showing Blikskottel, ten years after its release. It is a comedy skit series, which has been banned three times and was filmed and produced in the Capital City.
Cool Capital Biennale 2014 is a DIY guerilla bienalle – an art exhibition every two years – which Taljaard describes as an uncurated exhibition of ideas and they are inviting everybody to take part.
“There are a lot of ways that we as citizens can make a difference and Cool Capital offers people the opportunity to interact with their city,” she said. The event is launching on 29 August, with performances by Bittereinder and Tidal Waves and a sneak peak of what the biennale will have on offer. “And at the end of the night we’re going to light a huge thing on fire,” says Taljaard. You can find more information about the events on CoolCapital. co.za.
For those who love a good ghost story, the Pretoria Spookbus will take you on an eerie adventure through Pretoria, sharing some of the city’s greatest legends. Ghost stories will be told about the Vlieënde Hollander along with more recent stories about the hospital-ghost in the Eastern Cape, all while driving through the city.
The tour stops at the Ou Raadsaal, the Erasmus Huis and the Victoria Hotel. Tour leader Jaco Hough-Coetzee says that although the tour is in Afrikaans, this is an adventure that all students will enjoy. Their next tour is happening on 6 September.
The founders of Park Acoustics and Capital Craft are also planning an event in the CBD for 2015. Although they didn’t want to say what genre music the show would be, Neil Groenewald says “watch this space”. Henk van der Schyf, his business partner, said that City Property has been showing them some cool locations in the inner city. “There are some nice incentives to go and do something in the city again”, he said.
To view the city through the camera’s lens, the Pretoria Street Photography initiative is the perfect opportunity. Founded by Emmanuel Munano, it is an internet-based project that shares pictures people take within the boundaries of Pretoria. Munano says that “Photographers are encouraged to capture and share images captured in the city metropolis, surrounding townships and rural sections of Pretoria.”
Even the university is getting involved. The architecture honours students are looking for new, inventive ways to reuse some of the old buildings in Pretoria. The best ideas will be showcased in one of these buildings on 1 September, while Swedish social scientist Prof. Göran Therborn will discuss the future of capital cities on 2 September in the Sanlam Auditorium.
Just because places in the Square are closing down doesn’t mean that Friday nights are limited to watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory in bed. There are amazing performances at the State Theatre, such as their jazz and African music nights or Tshwane comedy nights. You can even go on a night tour in the Pretoria Zoo. It’s time to take back the city and indulge in all it has to offer.