You’ve just registered, got your awkward (they always are) picture taken for your first varsity student card and you’ve had a long hard look at your timetable. Feel like a university student yet? What you’ve been waiting and working for has finally arrived: freedom. But freedom can be a daunting prospect. Where? When? Who with? The options associated with this newly found freedom are endless. So to prevent the worst of this sudden onset of confusion, Perdeby offers a guide to the weird and wonderful night life that can be experienced until the early hours in our beloved capital, Pretoria. Tread lightly, she bites.
Livingstones Where? 1215 Burnett Street, Hatfield When? Literally any day of the week, Livingstones does not discriminate. Castle draughts are R18 between 16:00 and 18:00. Who with? Again, Livingstones welcomes all. The dirty and dingy facilities perfectly embody the beautiful student pub atmosphere that the older generation miss and the younger generation yearns for. Whether your thing is playing Deer Hunter or shooting some pool or just having a couple of drinks, Livingstones is the perfect way to unwind or wind up and warm up for a night at Hatfield Square.
Eastwoods Where? 391 Eastwood Street, Arcadia When? There is no better place in Pretoria to watch the rugby on a Saturday than at Eastwoods, provided you get a seat. Who with? Eastwoods is more of an upmarket sports bar, so you’re going to bump into the obligatory group of lawyers drowning their sorrows or flashing some cash. Having said that, students do fit into the scene quite well, with girls running around in skimpy cocktail dresses and guys taking advantage of the Castle draughts at R35 a litre.
Arcade Empire Where? 265 The Highway Street, Equestria When? Whenever there’s a gig. Seriously, if you’re into the local music scene, you’re going to want to keep your eyes peeled and ears pricked for any upcoming events at Arcade. Wrestlerish, Van Coke Kartel and Taxi Violence are just a few of the bands to have graced the stage – in one night. Who with? Any person that is a South African music fan will fit right in at Arcade. This is an awesome place that is not to be ignored. Go on. Do it.
Trademarx Where? Corner of Lynnwood and Kirkness Streets, next to Loftus When? Tuesday nights are student nights at Trademarx, so anyone with a student card gets in for free. And more often than not a 5FM DJ will make an appearance. Who with? Trademarx is more of a club scene, with buff guys in tight T-shirts two-stepping all over the place and scantily clad girls perched on high heels sipping on technicolour cocktails. It is a must see for first years though, as all those not allowed in Hatfield Square initially flock to student night. Specials include half-price cocktails between 14:00 and 18:00 and a satiating litre of Castle goes for R30.
Bravo Pizzeria Where? Corner of Jan Shoba and South Streets, Hatfield When? Wednesday night is live music night, or it was, or it is? No one knows anymore: legal battles about noise levels have clouded the water. Live music or not, Wednesday nights at Bravo’s should definitely be on the bucket list of any Pretoria newbie. Who with? Anyone. Bravo’s is possibly the most relaxed place on the planet. The pizza will blow your mind and the booze is free. That’s right, free. But that’s because you have to bring your own booze as they don’t sell liquor.
Tiger Tiger Where? 376 January Masilela, Garsfontein When? Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Who with? Again, this is more of a club scene, so if you’re into square toes, popped collars and high heels then this is the place to be. Famous DJs, massive crowds and themed parties combine as a recipe for a crazy night out.
Hatfield Square Where? 1115 Burnett Street, Hatfield When? Every single day of the year. Who with? Anybody and everybody. Fact: years ago town planners ensured that all streets in Pretoria channel night time traffic to Hatfield Square. Ok, that’s not true, but it feels like it. Hatfield Square is the stuff of legends, any old Tukkie worth their salt will tell you. Names are made and shamed on this unholy patch of earth.
DropZone (Mordor) Where? In the Square, atop Mount Doom (the big staircase). When? Every morning after 02:00, when all other bars are closed. Who with? If all roads lead to the Square then the only staircase in Hatfield Square leads to DropZone. This is a fact. No one really likes Mordor, but somehow everybody ends up there when the bars close and it really is time to go home. You haven’t lived until you’ve been thrown out of DropZone only to see the agonising rays of the morning sun arching over the res rooftops. Goosebumps.
This guide is exactly what the name implies, merely a guide. The smaller unique watering holes that you encounter on your travels are what memories are made of. So set forth, and be free.
Illustration: René Lombard