It’s a cloudy and sunny Cape Town on a Sunday afternoon at the Claremont taxi rank and we are looking for a taxi to Khayelitsha. I am with Chiyedza and Ryan who are two University of Cape Town international students from Zimbabwe and America, respectively. It is our first time commuting to Khayelitsha via taxi, but we asked the locals in the Khayelitsha taxi to alert us as to where to get off.
Situated at the centre of Khayelitsha, many see this as a township shisa-nyama. However, Rands Lifestyle Space is an open-air lounge founded by brothers Mfundo and Mshayi Mbeki. It serves braai meat, traditional side dishes, and good music to its guests.
This eatery-and-pub is becoming a weekend alternative to the popular Long Street as it offers a premium township experience to local and international guests.
After a forty-five minute-long taxi ride to Khayelitsha, we finally arrive at Rands to DJ Mshayi, the co-founder’s deep house tunes that set a relaxed tone for the festivities ahead.
The set up at Rands is that of a modern and contemporary outdoor spot. On your right, 4-seater oakwood bunk stools are placed casually on the around the 1500 capacity venue. On the left, you have red painted metal bar chairs on long wooden tables. Further on your right, you have the VIP marquee guarded by a white picket fence and within this section, you have red-and-white ultra modern style sofas which have hosted South Africa’s A-List celebrities such as DreamTeam and DJs Sphectacula and Dj Naves.
The quality music and contemporary decor at Rands offer visitors a premium night and daytime experience.
Whilst preparing to go to Rands for the first time, Ryan pointed out to both Chiyedza and I that we ought to put some effort into what we will be wearing.
The clientele that Rands attracts ranges from Khayelitsha and surrounding township’s locals to tourists from all over the world. With this in mind, it is understandable that the people at this space take their outfits seriously as they dress to stand out from the crowd be it to meet new people or be spotted by the Rands photographers and be featured on the Rands Cape Town social media platforms that boast a following of over fifty thousand and almost eight thousand people on Facebook and Instagram, sequentially.
The drinks at such a premium establishment are affordable for both local and tourist alike. If you’re looking for alcohol at bottle store prices this is the place to go. Please note that Rands is a 21-and-over establishment and thus alcohol is sold accordingly.
Rands is the perfect spot for Friday after work drinks with colleagues or a Sunday chill session. These are the days that Sinothando Jaxa, a Rands employee also suggests as the best and busiest days of their week. Judging from our difficulty finding a spot to sit, it is also that you come here earlier around one o’clock daytime.
He also recommended that people come enjoy their African Delight menu that is only served on Thursdays. This menu offers guests a variety of traditional African meals such as ulusu (tripe), umleqwa (hand raised chicken), and dumplings to name a few. It is important to note that you need a mere R40 to enjoy a meal on #AfricanDelight Thursdays.
The food is served in a stylish wooden basket that can accommodate meat and side dishes for at least 6 people. Since this is still a shisa-nyama at its core, there are no eating utensils and one uses their hands to enjoy the fresh braai meat and pap. The breaking of bread style of eating which brings people together and strengthens the spirit of ubuntu and humility that is unique to the township. However, for those unfamiliar with this eating style plastic utensils are available.
We went for a Sunday sundowner and treated ourselves to the braai meat, their (unique) yellow pap, and chakalaka. Rands meat is marinated in a special secret sauce that could give big fast food franchises a run for their money. Meat to expect at Rands is beef, lamb chops, sausage, chicken wings, and pork.
What stood out for us was the pap’s colour which is the result of the additional curry powder. The chakalaka was a bit disappointing and taste could be improved by being careful of overcooking the carrot and making it a bit spicier and tastier. However paired with the curry pap, the two made a decent side to the meat.
The thing that brings people back to Rands is the sense of community that you get as you walk through the gates. From the moment that you walk into the establishment, the friendly staff that is always willing to assist like Sinothando and his colleagues work together to provide fast and efficient service even at the most demanding times. Notably, there is room for improvement in terms of hygiene with regards to the handling of the meat by the staff.
We enjoyed the music selection thoroughly as it ranged from Deep house in the afternoon, Hip-hop and R’n’B towards sunset, and Qgomu or commercial house which caused an uproar in the crowds and we were treated to some dancing before our departure.
Overall, Rands is a great gathering space for people from all walks of life. The environment is LGBTQI+ friendly with Health4men condom boxes provided at the toilets.
This is further manifested by the fact that the people showed no bigotry against white, coloured, black, gay, lesbian, or trans people who were at the venue this Sunday. We found that warm, and open-minded people dominated this space.
If you’re looking for good music, people and food – Rands Lifestyle Space in Khayelitsha is the place to go.