words by Uhuru waga Phalafala

When a good male friend of mine who, need I mention, would break a leg if he auditioned for Pricilla, Queen of the Desert, invited me to a drag race, I immediately imagined a rehearsal of the Pride March. I conceptualised overtly genderised men with blue eye shadow that matched their belts and shoes. This prejudice I attribute to a few reasons—the outfit he was parading the day he extended this warm invite shouted drag queen more than drag race; and although I did hear race, I concluded they would be parading at a rapid pace, and perhaps the biggest reason was that I was, and am still itching for my friend to storm out of the closet.

Arriving at the drag race was like advancing towards a burning Dunlop Tryes factory. The smoke from the burning tyres added to my clouded moment when I realised that this is the weekly drag racing that the coloured community of Bosmount, Westburry and Riverlea engaged in on Thursdays. I had never been to one or seen cars spinning out of control without needing a tow truck shortly after. I had heard that thugs spin cars at the graveside when one of their own gets buried, but I’ve obviously never been to thugs’ funerals.

All my prejudices were out in the open and I tried to conceal them with confident strides, ubiquitous smile and a neutral look even when I was completely wowed. And hell was there a lot to wow me. Two hundred or so coloured folks of all ages stood around an intersection in a circular formation, leaving a platform in the middle for those who are experienced and flamboyant to showcase their skill and elaborately embellished cars. My friend intercepts, “for most a car is just a tool to get from A to B, but for these guys cars are an extension of yourself. They form part of your outfit”. I responded with my fixed, controlled smile.

I continued to survey the area surreptitiously. All the cars there were marvellous to look at. They had their silver wheel rims, dropped suspension and blaring sounds. They reminded me of music videos for gangster rap representing the West versus East frontiers. Walking past these cars was an experience. Every five or so meters introduces a new song that had no disruption on the previous one. The sound system must be so good, I thought to myself. What was even more shocking was the kind of music that came out of these masterpieces of automobiles. Kwaito. The

Kwaito that ushered in the new dispensation in the nineties. The same Kwaito that gave this genre a bad name because of lack of depth and monotonous beats. It was truly shocking. Not nostalgic but shocking. There was nothing to be nostalgic about because when that kind of sound was made I was still playing with my Barbie dolls and harbouring aspirations of studying medicine.

When a car enters the platform in the middle of a crowd, clapping and shouting marijuana induced poetics, the man behind the wheel is evidently fuelled with adrenalin and status. This man, in his BMW 725, complete with a roofless top and a topless girlfriend, started revving a car incessantly until the cacophony made some block their ears and others jump in jubilation. This man was probably going at 140 km/h but the car was at stationery. He then advanced to release what I imagined is the handbrake, causing the car to leap forward, upon which he skilfully manoeuvred the platform in circular motions. The car was spinning in control and the rubber and tar friction caused sparks between the road and the car, which had me thinking something must be going wrong. The smoke that was being unnaturally emitted supported my logic. I betrayed my neutral look and feigned comfort by moving back for safety. My friend found this satisfying to his ego. A real man would stand right there in the middle of danger and wait for the collapse. I started to doubt my suspicions about his sexuality.

This carried on for a good part of the night; cars spinning, others driving back and forth to display their colours, mechanics, sound systems and the little extras that make all the difference. I was totally exhilarated and impressed by these ‘cars of the future’, but I couldn’t help thinking, boys and their toys, they will always compare the prizes of their sizes. My reverie was rudely interrupted by that two hundred or so spectators dispersing rapidly and running for cover from the police. It did not click at first but when my friend followed suit I realised that we were at an illegal gathering. Now all my pretensions of nonchalance departed unceremoniously. With them, my suspicions of homosexuality and most importantly, my prejudices. I ran as if to save my life. We got in the car and quickly jetted off in a similar fashion to our drag racers.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Dear Commentator

Kasiekulture encourages you to leave a comment and sensitize others about it. However due to spammers filling this box with useless rhetoric that has nothing to do with our posts we have now decided that to comment you have to go to our Facebook Page titled THE Kasiekulture BLOG. We will not authorise any comments. Apologies for the inconvenience.