Cape Town's new year
Did you know?
Though still widely known as the Kaapse Klopse, its official name is the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival.
The Kaapse Klopse is a New Year’s carnival in the streets of Cape Town. Rooted in slave culture, the tradition is a modern day take on the celebrations held when the Cape’s slaves got given a holiday at the start of a new year.
The festival has evolved over the years, the influence of visiting American minstrels seeing the emergence of singing groups and bands dressed in colourful outfits competing with each other in song, dance and parades through the streets of Cape Town.
The American minstrels brought American 'Coon' songs to the Cape. These were fused with local musical styles and other musical elements, ranging from African-American religious hymns to classical European musical forms, adding global flavour to the Cape minstrel music.
Preparations for the Cape carnival start well in advance, with troupes rehearsing songs, dance routines and parades for months. Costume preparation – boldly coloured satin fabric, bow ties, umbrellas and hats – begins in August, although some troupes start from as early as July.
Over the years, these minstrels, with their rich blend of music and spectacle, were grouped into ‘klopse’, or clubs. Cheered on with loud support from scores of spectators, they began a tradition of parading through the city to a local stadium where the annual competition is held.
Today, 10 000 banjo-strumming minstrels – mainly from the Afrikaans-speaking communities that have kept the Kaapse Klopse tradition alive for decades – take to the streets of the well-known District Six suburb, winding down to the central business district of Cape Town on their way to Green Point Stadium.
With troupe names like 'Cape Flats Minstrels', 'Unlimited Community Entertainers' and 'Classic Youth Development', the carnival has become a symbol and celebration of life in the Cape, as well as a fun way to welcome in the New Year.
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Who to contact
Cape Town Minstrels
Tel: +27 (0)82 2562427