Tips for a South African Night Out

December 9, 2010

It’s a Friday night in Grahamstown. You’re at Friar Tucks, the popular nightclub/bar. Locnville’s “6 Second Poison” blares from the speakers. Lights flash before your eyes. Broken glass surrounds your feet. You’re caught between mobs of people on the dance floor, and your clothes reek of beer and smoke. You push your way through the crowd, trying to get a drink. You head in the direction of the bar, where there’s a girl, smoking a cigarette and sipping a Savanna Light or Hunter’s Dry Cider.

Despite the occasional awkward situation, South African nightlife can be pretty exciting. You will never end your night where you began. Clubs either don’t cost admission or are very cheap. It may cost you between 10 and 20 rand (between 2 and 3 USD) if you go out late, but otherwise you’re left with a good amount of money for drinking. Nights usually begin at bars with friends, then move to the clubs for more drinks and dancing…and maybe even some ‘hubbly’ which is South African slang for hookah. When you’re on on the dance floor, you’re bound to hear a blend of American top 40, Afrikaans music, and house music—maybe even some Xhosa, one of the official South African languages.

To ensure that your South African nights are successful, be aware of your surroundings, make sure you’re feeling comfortable, and keep your friends close by.

Here are some tips for a safe and fun South African night out:

Tips for a South African Night Out

1. Be cautious of accepting drinks from African men

If you accept a drink, expectations will follow. You don’t want to give anyone the wrong idea.

2. Learn the lingo

“Hook-up” means kiss, “lunge” means to make a strong attempt at kissing, to “take a nap” means to have sex.

3. Don’t maintain eye contact

Just like in most places, you don’t want to stare for too long as the person may interpret your glances for interest.

4. Don’t linger in your handshakes

Again, something that can give men the wrong impression.

5. Don’t be afraid to take up space

Surround yourself with your friends on the dance floor to create a safe space

6. Wear close-toed shoes

You never know when you might step on some broken glass.

7. Don’t be afraid to walk away

No one is entitled to your attention.

8. Watch what you say, where you say it, and in what language you say it.

As a woman visiting South Africa, my accent tends to get me a lot of unwanted attention. Guys that would not be interested suddenly are once I start speaking.

Once, when out in Cape Town and surrounded by a group of Tanzanians, I tried out my Swahili. The men would not stop bothering me, disparaging me for not having an ‘African boyfriend’ when they learned that I had a partner. Not only did I feel disrespected personally, but I also realized how much disrespect they had for other people’s significant others. All I could do was walk away with my head held high and dignity intact.

Lastly, keep in mind that South Africans are also likely to stay until last call, all the time. So even if you only planned to get a drink or two, you will likely end up staying out far later than you anticipated. I always head home a little earlier than the rest of the bunch, but I always feel secure walking home from the clubs at night by myself. My friends always go with colleagues or guys they already know. I do not know anyone who has gone home with a local; it is not safe or advisable.


Tips for a South African Night Out photo by Unsplash. 

About Mollie Munro

Mollie Munro is a professional friend. She has an insatiable hunger for new culture, perspectives, and ideas. With a powerful mentality for inner development she is ever changing. Refining the core of her traveling spirit remains a constant. Her greatest desire is to empower others to be themselves, no matter what risk may be involved.

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