New Year revellers party hard, but alcohol among youth is a concern

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

Newtown and Melville were the places to party in Johannesburg on New Year's eve, so that's where I headed.

At Newtown, the now popular free-music concert was taking place. When I arrived at about 9pm, the place was a hive of activity. Musicians and DJs were taking turns to entertain the predominantly young crowd that had gathered to welcome in 2008.

Though the main attraction was the concert at Mary Fitzgerald Square, pubs were abuzz with excited youth who partied as if there would not be tomorrow, dancing to mostly house music. I have never seen Capellos so full, and it was a real mission to order a drink.

Restaurants in the area took advantage of this and increased the prices of beverages - and not by a small margin. Though there was no visible misbehaviour among the youth, some definitely looked too young and should not have been imbibing the forbidden waters. Fathers and mothers should be concerned.

It was very satisfying to see Mango Groove on stage, and the appreciation expressed by the crowd is testimony to this. The group still has the groove that defined popular music in the 1980s.

At midnight, music-mixing genius DJ Cleo sent the youth into a frenzy of dancing and ululating when his new album Esikhaleni Zone 4 was played to usher in the New Year.

Afterwards when the popular Oliver Mtukudzi took over, the youngsters danced to favourites such as Todii.

My next stop was Melville. I arrived there at about 2am and noticed the heavily armed policemen who looked ready to discipline the crowds.

But in their hippos and vans, the police looked helpless as excited party animals ignored them. The cops eventually left.

A new phenomenon has taken over Melville where black youth have taken over the partying. Some came in their own cars, but others came in hired transport.

Once again it was disturbing to see young kids drinking themselves into a stupor.