NOKWANDA KUBHEKA, TSHEPANG MOJI and AMUKELANI MAKAMU
On 31 October, DJ Dweezy posted a tweet on Twitter titled ‘Racism at Aandklas Pretoria is Not Dead’. In the post, he spoke of an incident at Aandklas in Hatfield, where he was booked for a Halloween party held on 30 October, where he says he was specifically requested by the music manager not to play the Amapiano music genre. The DJ says that when he spoke to the music manager after being booked he was of the knowledge that Aaandklas has been playing Amapiano on Tuesdays during karaoke nights, and he says he requested that Amapiano was reserved for him to play. However, he alleges that the music manager told him not to play Amapiano out of all music genres. He then says he was told that Amapiano is “out of control” and that “it’s too much.”
In the statement DJ Dweezy wrote, he says, “If Aandklas is a mixed crowd, why cut out only Amapiano? Why not also say no rock? Since the place is [a] very mixed crowd? Because they only care about their white patrons.” He then later said that he “pleaded” for Amapiano to be played because as a DJ, he read the crowd, which he says was predominantly black. DJ Dweezy claims he was not given proper reasons why Amapiano cannot be played, and was instead told that “they (Aandlkas) were trying to ‘phase’ it out and that they didn’t want it to be played in the weeks to come because it was out of control.”
In response to DJ Dweezy’s online statement, Oosthuizen has labelled his posts on social media as an “attention seeking stunt”.
DJ Dweezy said to PDBY that he had asked the music manager who booked him if he could play Amapiano after which he was directed to speak to the other managers on the day. When DJ Dweezy called one of the managers and asked for the reason why he did not want Amapiano to be played, he says he was told to “read the crowd and play like a DJ would”. DJ Dweezy says the only reason he agreed to play at Aandklas is because he kept getting reassurance from the managers and one of the DJ’s who was playing before him to ‘read the crowd’ and that was the reason he went to play there, otherwise he would have pulled himself from the gig. He went on to say that on the night of his gig, people were asking for Amapiano and he played it. According to the statement, after 15 minutes of playing Amapiano, DJ Dweezy was approached by a manager who said “we need you to play something else that is not this,” and that “we can’t have Amapiano being played. We will get in trouble because the owner [….] doesn’t want it.” The DJ says that the manager went on to say that he needed to play something that would include the “white demographic outside.” He goes on to say after that, the manager who booked him approached him and told him that they would get in trouble because the owner did not want Amapiano played. Afterwards, DJ Dweezy says that the first manager sent someone to get him to change the music or to “get him off.”
DJ Dweezy says he continued to play Amapiano and when he ended his set claims he was told that if he carried on playing this, the owner would “pull the plug and tell everyone to f*** off.”
After playing, DJ Dweezy says he went to the manager at Aandklas who allegedly responded with arrogance and he called her racist citing in his statement that “when you follow an owner’s racist decision and justify his racism, you endorse the racism too, you are racist.” He was then told by the person who booked him that he (DJ Dweezy) cannot call people racist because he (the manager) does not see colour. The statement by DJ Dweezy further reads, “When you’re being blatantly racist, not wanting a type of music that draws a black crowd even when they want it, only worried about what white people think and whether they enjoy it – you’re being racist.” DJ Dweezy alleges that he was threatened to be thrown out and was physically threatened with bouncers because.
PDBY asked Aandklas’ response to this situation. While the bar’s manager declined to offer comment, Marcus Oosthuizen, the co-owner of the establishment, responded to the allegations.
Taking us through Aandklas’ stance on the music genres played, Oosthuizen explains that “Aandklas started off as a Rock bar in Hatfield 15 years ago. We predominantly played rock and roll and oldies over the years […]. Over the last 2 years we have been broadening our playlists as some of our family members changed (family members referring to the locals).”
Oosthuizen, who co-founded Aandklas along with his brother Rudi, maintains that while Amapiano has been played for months at the establishment and has formed a part of the sets of many DJ’s who have performed at Aandklas, the music played at Aandklas sticks to their guidelines – rock, pop, hip hop, R&B and oldies. “We do not play club music. No trance, dubstep, or electro. Amapiano is a fairly new genre and falls in club music. This has nothing to do with groups of people unless you want to stereotype people. We do not.”, Oosthuizen said.
Oosthuizen reiterates that Aandklas takes pride in their musical identity, and that the crowd occupying the bar at any point in time is not a determining factor to the music that is played. “No bar plays music according to people in a venue. You choose your poison, and you stick to it. For example, if someone requests a Bok van Blerk song, our response is ‘nope.’ If 50 students from Brazil walk in, we will keep playing Aandklas tunes.”
DJ Dweezy says “Racism is real […] and as a DJ, I have seen these micro aggressions happen [….] too often.”
In response to DJ Dweezy’s online statement, Oosthuizen has labelled his posts on social media as an “attention seeking stunt”. He states that DJ Dweezy was informed beforehand that Aandklas did “not want to go the Amapiano direction [at] our Halloween event. Aandklas is not a club, and during the COVID period, we try and keep people from hectic partying. He took it upon himself to start with his attention seeking stunt.” Oosthuizen further states that “what he fails to mention in his rant was [that] he did play a fairly long Amapiano set before his music manager [….] took him off stage”.
According to DJ Dweezy’s statements, one of the employees at Aandklas labelled the Amapiano as a “geraas.” Furthermore, DJ Dweezy alleges that he was told during his set to stop playing Amapiano, reportedly because “white people need inclusion”. Oosthuizen denied these allegations.
According to Oosthuizen, DJ Dweezy “had an agenda” and is using the “suffering of millions of South Africans as a disguise to future his career,” he alleges that DJ Dweezy “saw an opportunity even before the show” and “bragged that he was asked not to play Amapiano and that he [did] regardless.”
Contrasting DJ Dweezy’s version of events, Oosthuizen emphasises that Aandklas has a strong management team. “They know the direction we are taking Aandklas in, hence we have stood the test of time. [….]. He got booted by our [….] manager because he behaved like an a**hole and was rude”.
In light of this, Oosthuizen is still confident that despite the debacle, Aandklas will continue to be a party hotspot in Hatfield as it has always been. “Besides all of this, there are exciting events happening at Aandklas and we cannot wait to see everyone on the tables, every Friday and Saturday!”
PDBY interviewed various performers who have performed at Aandklas, Steve Umculo and Christo “Baas” de Beer who hosts open mic at Aandklas, to find out if other performers have similar experiences.
De Beer, the host of Open Mic at Aandklas, said that being given the opportunity to host it has been one of the greatest adventures of his life. He believes that not only has Aandklas given a “boatload of musicians a foundation upon which they build a career,” but that it gave him the opportunity to live out his passion and invest in the future of music and musicians in South Africa. He said he believes that Aandklas is a “place where anyone can have a good time together.” Lastly, he said, “If you like the vibe, and you generally don’t cause k**, nobody will care about your bank balance, status, clothes, colour, or where you come from”.
Steve Umculo explained to PDBY that he was given the freedom to choose his own songs to perform. He stated that he loved every second of playing on the Aandklas stage, mentioning that “There was such a great energy in the audience, and everyone was really complimentary of my show.”
De Beer asserts that if “you generally don’t cause k**, nobody will care about your bank balance, status, clothes, colour, or where you come from”.
In response to claims that he is using the incident to future his career, DJ Dweezy says, “I am not using the suffering of millions of black people in South Africa to further my career. Racism is real […] and as a DJ, I have seen these micro aggressions happen [….] too often. The thought that I’m using this to get popular and using this to further my career is weird because: (1) I actually did act “unprofessionally” by not entertaining the prejudicial requests of the owner and that can result in other club owners having a bad taste in their mouth about me, (2) I have actually lost work because of this and been banned from going to that place, (3) I wasn’t even the one who spoke up first about it, […] [and] (4) I take race matters very personally because of the people that it affects […].”
Despite alleged racism at Aandklas, this incident has not stopped them from holding their usual events with other artists supporting their establishment. DJ Dweezy, who says he has been banned from Aandklas, has continued to perform at other venues. Oosthuizen said that DJ Dweezy has not been banned from Aandklas.