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