Every year, crowds of people head to central Cape Town to share in the fun and excitement of the New Year minstrel carnival or the Cape Town Street Parade, as it is now known. Historical accounts suggest that 2 January or ‘Tweede Nuwe Jaar’ (Afrikaans for Second New Year) was the only day by law on which slaves in the Cape had a day off. They took to the streets singing, dancing and playing musical instruments. After the abolition of slavery, the celebratory tradition continued, making South Africa’s new year celebration one of the longest running street carnivals in the world, second only to Rio.
The Cape minstrel ‘gear’
For the more than 70 troupes, in excess of 13 000 participants, having the right kit is essential. Each year, seamstresses sew new shiny brightly coloured unisex uniforms known as ‘gear’. Having your gear “opgesquare” means having the correct basic kit. Panama hats are worn, as are bow ties, waistcoats, tailcoats and ‘tekkies’ (sneakers). Umbrellas held in gloved hands are twirled as performers sing, dance and march through streets accompanied by brass instruments and the unmistakable rhythmic beating of the ‘ghoemas’ (drums).
Music in Cape Town’s streets
Visitors to Cape Town can expect comic songs in English and Afrikaans, combined chorus numbers, sentimental solos, swing and ragtime. Troupes will also throw in an Old Dutch classic or two plus lively instrumental pieces including hymns, Christmas Carols and light classical tunes. Each song is performed to the delight of carnival goers of all ages.
More than just the New Year
Collectively referred to as ‘Kaapse Klopse’ troupes are in fact made up of ‘Klopse’, ‘Nagtroepe’ and ‘Christmas Bands’ each with their own special flavour and musical preferences. ‘Klopse’ (Afrikaans for clubs) is the term given to the formal organisation of minstrel teams or clubs in the latter part of the 19th century. While ‘Tweede Nuwe Jaar’ is most famously associated with the annual street parade, preparation begins much earlier. In fact, ‘Tweede Nuwe Jaar’ is one day in a carnival season, which starts in December and ends in March/April with various festive competitions in between.
The 2020 Tweede Nuwe Jaar route and other need to know info
This year’s ‘Tweede Nuwe Jaar’ actually takes place on Saturday, 4 January 2020. Before the street parade starts, there will be a variety of entertainment on a stage on the Grand Parade in front of City Hall from 12h00. The opening ceremony with an address by the Mayor of Cape Town will start at 1pm. The troupes will march from Hanover Street in District Six and head towards the City Hall, where they will march in a horse-shoe shape onto the Grand Parade and back onto Darling Street. They continue up Darling Street into Adderley Street, up Wale Street to Rose Street in the Bo-Kaap. The street parade is free, however tickets for the VIP Golden Circle area cost R100 per person and can be purchased on Computicket. Once the march comes to an end, the Kaapse Klopse troupes head to Green Point Stadium to determine the winning troupe. All necessary traffic, police, risk management and city services will maintain a strong presence throughout.