There are panoramic city views overlooking a stark blue South African skyline. Delicately, a set of shakers introduce themselves to you on a pulsating amapiano track. Slow-burning and atmospheric, the beat speaks to your body long before your mind can recall it. An air of intrigue floods the room, hot on the tails of billowing shisha smoke, laced with the scent of cognac and tequila, as does a late arrival from some featherweight piano chords, deep synths and full-bodied basslines.
The scene in question? A Major League DJz set (see the Amapiano Live Balcony Mix as a prime example). Bandile and Banele Mbere, the twin superstars behind the DJing powerhouse, are bringing the world closer to South Africa’s hypnotic champion sound, and their hugely popular Balcony Mix series has taken flight in multiple cities worldwide; from London, Ibiza and Dubai all the way to New York, Miami and Sydney.
THE FACE has teamed up with Nando’s once again for their Mix It Up campaign, which fosters cultural connections between UK artists and South African talent in the amapiano scene. Earlier this year, we travelled to South Africa with UK rappers K‑Trap and Kojey Radical, who collaborated with amapiano artists and learned about the genre’s context on a trip which was organised with the Bridges For Music initiative.
In celebration of the Mix It Up campaign, Major League DJz gave us some tips for the perfect night out in their home country.
When it comes to partying, Johannesburg does it best
Johannesburg sets the rules in South Africa’s party scene – in fact, they’re all about the partying. Also venues close very late in the city, so you’re allowed to fully party and experience that lifestyle there. Cape Town is a little stricter, while Johannesburg is very easygoing. Not to mention all the biggest DJs and artists come from there.
South Africans have expensive taste
South African fashion is very much label-based. People there love Gucci and Louis Vuitton, especially musicians. Cape Town is generally more luxury-leaning, especially in December.
The early bird never catches the worm
We arrive at the club around 2AM, and leave around 5AM.
Stick to spirits
South Africans love cognac. It sells very well there; we’ve been drinking it for years.
This is what you’ll hear
Chants including yebo! (yes!) haibo! (what?!) and woza (come on!). Also Mnike by Tyler ICU, DJ Maphorisa and Tumelo__za – the biggest song to come out of South Africa this year, easily.
TikTok is your best dance instructor
TikTok pushes a lot of new dances. It’s a marketing platform for the genre, you know? It’s really made [amapiano] popular.
Club etiquette: a few do’s
Have a lot of fun. Lose your morals.
Club etiquette: a few don’ts
Don’t drink beer in the club – it doesn’t look good. Don’t expect too much rap music. Don’t drink and drive.