01 May 2014 by Daphney Mngomeni

Alexandra township – a vibrancy that’s hard to beat

The next time you decide to try something new and different, why not go for a memorable township experience in the kasi (township) of all kasis: Alexandra.

Alexandra township is the kasi of all kasis. Image courtesy of Flow Communications

Alexandra (or Alex for short) may be one of the poor townships of Gauteng – but what it lacks in glamour, it makes up for with a vibrancy that’s hard to beat. A township alive with music, art and culture, and with a long history, Alex is definitely not to be missed.

Check out these six spots the next time you’re in the neighbourhood:

Kings Cinema

The cinema is an art-deco movie house that was once the busiest cinema in Alex, and a popular venue for performances by local musicians such as the Alexandra All Star Band and the Jazz Maniacs.

Kings Cinema is part of the Heritage Trail in Alexandra. Image courtesy of James Ball

Kings was first established in the 1950s, but had to be rebuilt after it was bombed by apartheid forces in 1984.

The cinema is still operational, and currently screens movies that are shown in mainstream cinemas.

Where: 48 2nd Avenue, Alexandra
Contact: +27 (0)11 346 1351

Joe’s Butchery

You haven’t been to a real shisa nyama (informal barbecue) until you’ve been to Joe’s Butchery.

This popular shisa nyama spot is the best place to head to for some Sunday evening entertainment.

With meat grilled to your satisfaction, an ice-cold beverage in your hand and the sounds of well-known local and international DJs, you are guaranteed to have a good time.

Where: Corner 11th Avenue and Alfred Nzo (previously Roosevelt), Alexandra
Contact: +27 (0)82 043 6605

Stoep OneFive

Stoep OneFive is well known for its Mogodu Mondays. Image courtesy of Stoep OneFive

Also known as Cheeks, this place is best known for its delicious mogodu (tripe), and DJs heating up the dance floor. Stoep OneFive is the place to be on Saturdays and Mondays.

Where: 123 15th Avenue, Alexandra
Contact: Hello@stoep15.com

De Grandiose

Saturday evenings are a good time to make your way to De Grandiose bar and grill.

Visit De Grandiose for the ultimate kasi dining experience. Image courtesy of De Grandiose

Enjoy a delicious meal and cold drink of your choice in the very comfortable lounge, or out on the wooden deck if you prefer to wine and dine with a view of Johannesburg – from Sandton City all the way to the Telkom tower in the CBD.

De Grandiose has a fairly large dance floor for those who would like to strut their stuff, and it hosts popular DJs and musicians every weekend.

Where: 713 Pretoria Main Road, Sandton
Contact: +27 (0)11 809 8234

Mbopha’s Place

You haven’t lived until you’ve tasted one of Mbopha’s slaais (salad) or kotas.

Russians, cheese, chips, lettuce, tomato, salami and atchaar, all sandwiched between two or even three slices of fresh bread, make for a really filling township meal.

Where: 65 3rd Avenue, Alexandra
Contact: +27 (0)72 293 8400

Pan Africa Shopping Centre

There’s always time for a bit of retail therapy.

Street vendors sell fruits, vegetables and accessories outside the Pan Africa Shopping Centre. Image courtesy of Chris Brueckner

The Pan Africa Shopping Centre is South Africa’s first fully integrated shopping mall and taxi facility.

Hit the mall for some shopping or to catch a quick bite to eat at one of the many restaurants.

Above the mall is a taxi rank with taxis that travel almost anywhere in Johannesburg, and a few places outside the city. Taxi to Pretoria, Randburg or Fourways, anyone?

Where: Corner Watt and 3rd Avenue, Alexandra
Contact: www.panafrica.co.za

Alexandra township has a long and interesting history. It was once home to struggle stalwarts and famous musicians, such as former president Nelson Mandela and the world-renowned Hugh Masekela.

When many other townships were torn to pieces by the apartheid regime, Alexandra proved itself to be a community that was determined to thrive – and it shows.

Category: Arts & Entertainment, Attractions, Wildlife

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