Very few places are able to provide the pleasure of R17 beer quarts, hood nostalgia and good quality conversation quite like De Peak.
In the beginning, circa 2009-ish, De Peak was always somewhere to pop in for one nyana, somewhere to start before heading out, and somewhere to go when there was nowhere else to go. A quick, temporary thing. But over the past few years it has become something of a ritual; the perfect way to conclude any day and the best place to be reminded that creativity is as much an attitude and philosophy as it is a performance.
One of the many things that attracted me to De Peak was the thread between the space and jazz music. One of my earliest memories of the place is when I first met (although I doubt he will recall) the incredibly talented jazz saxophonist Oscar Rachabane, grandson of the OG Barney Rachabane. Hungover from the night before and on our way home to Bree taxi rank, De Peak was an inevitable stop for cheap beer and an inner city kota. At the time I had no idea who he was or the difference between a saxophone and a flute, but in the backdrop of green, yellow, black and red murals the sight of a fidgety Rachabane and his tenor case was so peculiar that it made a strong impression in my mind.
And then years later there was the thing of being a young, broke, jazz enthusiast and liker of things. At 22, our Rands were too low for both Joy of Jazz ticket prices and beer and so, when the thirst got real, De Peak became our refuge. Chuffed with our street smarts and resourcefulness, we would buy beers from De Peak and smuggle them around the festival, sipping smugly and enjoying the music.
At first glance De Peak is nothing more than a bar, and I’m sure even for the owner it’s nothing more than a means to an end, but for a few of us De Peak is a secondary office, it’s a recreational and inspirational space. The stencil murals of Wole Soyinka, James Baldwin, Brenda Fassie, Fela Kuti, Bob Marley and Chinua Achebe speak to the affirmation of black creativity, they speak of heritage, and they speak of reflection and representation. They remind us that art and black are not antonyms. That we can definitely be black, talented and happy, that our creativity is not always for the sake of resistance and protest.
In a city such as Jo’burg, where gentrification assigns us places to eat, drink, live, walk and be, De Peak says that whatever you are – recycler, thug, lawyer, actor, photographer, writer, legendary or emerging – there is room for you here.
De Peak, with its melting pot of artists, is where the company I keep has been a validation of who I am. I do not have to announce or perform my creativity and talents. De Peak is where we go to talk about our dreams. Where we etch our names into wooden tables to affirm and create a memory of our existence. Where we declare daily the intentions of our lives and of the work we produce. There is no one to convince. There is no competition.
Timelapse and photographs of De Peak by Kgomotso Neto Tleane.