Pretoria’s social scene is one of life’s more sadistic jokes played on students: not being able to go out during Covid
and not having anywhere to go to after Covid. Trying to find a club or bar with good music and a trusted dance floor in Pretoria is like trying to find realism in the Vaudeville Theatre; no one is taking you seriously, and everyone is acting silly. While most have admitted defeat and grudgingly made their way to the club of least resistance, certain individuals have chosen to act rather than settle. They go about their day like the rest of us, working 9 to 5 jobs or studying for semester tests. You know them. They engage in small talk with you while they pack up their books or walk to their office. You would never know of their gatherings unless they wanted you to know. You would never see the line-up of some of Pretoria and Johannesburg’s best DJs without a formal invitation. You would never know the address where embassy members play beer pong with med students unless you were given an access code. What would a secret society be without faint whisperings and private chats? You have not heard of The Ranch? Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate your small talk, Bubba.
The Ranch is a bewitching potion, simple to understand but nearly impossible to master. Tshiamo Mariti, the founder of The Ranch, has mastered the art of house parties and socialisation. He is a contemporary Renaissance man. His knowledge of politics borders on the absurd. His articulation and ability to convey ideas simplistically and poetically gives Hemingway a run for his money. His understanding of the human condition would leave Freud and Jung in a mild panic. Mariti’s most valuable traits within the social framework are his refined music taste, magnetic attraction to wildly fascinating individuals, and ability to create a community founded on their mutual love for music, creativity, and one another.
During his studies at the University of Pretoria, Mariti sharpened his innate talents. He was surrounded by friends who introduced him to fascinating music, enlightening social settings, and innovative ideas. The Ranch was born after Mariti and his friends realised they had the space and potential to bring people over and make life interesting. Like birds of a feather, they flocked together, and they migrated from the decaying club scene to the party paradise that is the home. In 2021, a short two months after settling into his new place, Mariti revealed his heart and home, opening the doors of The Ranch on 27 February. What do you get when you combine a large house, talented DJs, an abundance of alcohol, and exclusive guests with a taste for the finer substances in life? You get what Pretoria has been missing: the resurrection of Babylon without violence and eternal damnation.
The Ranch hosted its fifth event on 30 September. The theme “Summer Soirée” was an ode to spring. The guest list was an amalgamation of Johannesburg and Pretoria’s most fascinating individuals, which has become expected thanks to the team’s vast network. The gates opened at 15:00 with strict instructions that only those who presented a valid access code could enter. Those lucky code holders were greeted with sangrias, gin punch, and a sparkling pool to splash and play in to their delight. Law students took shots alongside international embassy members. Accountants and political science scholars danced to never-ending live music, and artists and journalists laughed like children around the fire pit.
Pretoria’s social scene is beyond dead. It has started to rot, attracting maggots who feed off violence, unlawfulness, and profit. The Strip has become a suicidal landmine with inconsistent clubs and consistent crimes. It is filled with underage toddlers, desperate thieves, sordid dealers, and sociopathic scum who will slip anything into your drink and stab you anywhere they find an opening. Mariti came to terms with this two years ago. When asked about Pretoria’s club scene, he noted, “I can’t even define it as a scene. For there to be a scene, there has to be consistency,
which you really don’t have. The music and the places are just geared towards making money.” Doing things in exchange for income is not wrong; after all, money makes the world go round. But it is a disappointing reality for those who praise music as their mistress. Early on, Mariti realised that if he wanted to find a place that catered to his taste in music and conversations, he would have to create it.
And so he did, with the help of socialite friends and family. The Ranch is the product of the community Mariti created and maintained. Mariti smiled like a preschool child who was the proud owner of a class chart decorated in golden stars while explaining how he and his friends gathered as a group, with no one allowing him to create The Ranch alone. Over the years, they built a community on ideas and contributions. Mariti gave specific instructions regarding the members of this community that needed to be thanked as the lifeblood of The Ranch, repeating the importance of thanking others in a way that would make any mother proud.
The latest Ranch event was co-hosted by Mariti, Jupie Shongwe, Riccardo Taveira, and Thobekani Kanyile. There has not been such a powerful team since the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. A suburban home became a picturesque paradise thanks to Lea Castro, Assra Bagheri, and Samantha Matthew’s dreamlike décor. With audio and visual equipment provided by CDJ Rental, the dance floor was the dream of all club attendees, with the added bonus of better music. The planning and vibes of the night were provided by Kendra Wilkinson, one of Pretoria’s top techno babes and fashion icons. Kendra’s DJ skills have graced several stages, with performances including the Mieliepop Festival, The Loft, Vault, and most recently, Lentedag. After this list of thank yous, it is safe to assume that readers have realised the planning and coordination that events such as The Ranch require.
House parties are like needy, tantrum-throwing children in a grocery store. When left uncontrolled, they become annoying and loud, and everyone wants to escape as soon as possible. But we need little rug rats. They are essential to the survival of the human race. House parties are the same – Pretoria needs them if there is any hope of a surviving social scene. Go out, little monsters! Spread your wings and reproduce the music and crowd you have yearned for. The king, Mariti, has summarised a plan to guide you in controlling your offspring, allowing you to learn from mistakes before making them.
Tip number one: understand the power of music. Once you know the music you want to play, you will simultaneously see the vision you are aspiring to create.
Tip number two: recognise the need for social support and be social enough to get it. You need to make an effort with others. Without going out and being social, your wonderful ideas risk remaining unattended. It is vital to get your hands dirty. Mariti encourages you to “go out and [gauge] what people are craving” and then provide it to them on a silver platter.
Tip number three: land on a location. Sound is the universal issue uniting all suburban streets. Ensuring your sound is simultaneously of good quality and controlled volume will make things much sweeter with fewer angry adults.
Tip number four: you have to budget. Charging an entrance fee is not only possible but was successfully accomplished during the fourth Ranch. But with rights like money come responsibilities like quality, which heavily depends on the night’s line-up. Mariti acknowledges the difficulty of finding pro bono performers, reemphasising tip number two and the value of social engagement.The golden thread connecting this advice is the community and the
importance of thanking those who helped create your Eden.
The Ranch is like The Night Circus: no one knows when it will open its doors and, after a night of vaudeville fun, it quietly vanishes before the rays of a new day trickle over the streets. The Ranch symbolises Pretoria’s hunger for safe, homey, and mischievous fun. Music lovers and daring dancers should view The Ranch as a sign encouraging them to act. To those who feel that every night out is met with disappointment, create the scene you crave to be a part of. We are starved for a good time. The time has come to bite the hand that feeds you and start dishing up for
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