Many who have lived in Johannesburg over the years often talk about how Melville has been a party spot many in the media industry wanted to be seen. This part of Johannesburg would offer a variety of entertainment and the two streets offering this entertainment would be Seventh Avenue and Main Street, but the glamour of Melville doesn’t seem to there anymore.
Recently I went to the once hip part of Johannesburg and realised that a spot I would frequent on a regular basis until two years ago had received a character change. This is a place that would often accept young professionals with bouncers turning back everyone they thought couldn’t afford drinks that would cost a minimum of R25 a bottle.
When I went there recently there was a crowd standing next to the table my friends and I were seated. The crowd was clearly buying no drinks and seemed to know the manager on duty on a personal basis as from time to time he would go to them and have a few laughs. This was a shock to me as they used to only accept people when there were available tables inside.
There were many available table, which was unusual for the venue but the crowd chose to stand around. Earlier in the evening I had taken a walk on Seventh Avenue and realised that some venues were almost empty and there were places shutting down earlier than they would normally.
This reminded me of an incident from one of the many birthday celebrations I have during the last two months of the year. My friends and I had started with a great lunch on 44 Stanley – still a great hangout spot in Johannesburg and we drove up to Melville and ended up at a restaurant where we had said we’d have dessert. I am lactose intolerant so I ordered a carrot cake while others indulged on other forms of dessert. As we were discussing whether we should share another slice of carrot cake – the waiter brought it to the table saying he’d overheard this discussion and made the decision for us. An argument with him started but I realised that the waiter would not have made that decision had the venue been doing well. This was another sign that Melville is clearly suffering and the types in suits who want to relax after work are not seen there anymore – the crowd has definitely changed. I miss the old Melville.