hats off: Flaunting their fashion sense at the traditional pre-Vodacom Durban July Gallops at Greyville Racecourse on Thursday were Sarah Macleod, Nayizolo Simelane, Yolande Naidoo and Merlin Heads. The thoroughbreds announced in the Final Field were put through their paces, generally running with a stable companion, providing an opportunity for ardent punters to scrutinise each Vodacom Durban July runner.
DURBAN - WITH the hottest line-up of SA musicians, celebs, glasses overflowing with bubbles, and selfies at every spot - the Durban July is the place to see and be seen.

Next Saturday, race day fever will reach fever pitch when the who’s who of SA gathers at the Greyville Racecourse for the 2018 Vodacom Durban July.

While serious punters have already started researching the horses they are going to be putting their money on, many guests are concentrating on looking fabulous and anticipating a good time at the annual event which is known as much for its fashion as its horse racing.

Entertainment, too, has already been long in the planning for what is regarded by many as The Party of the Year in SA.

Key movers and shakers for the entertainment space said the Durban July was their biggest event of the year. “We started planning what we wanted a long time ago, we even had launches in other cities, preparing for the Durban July,” said Jabulani Zama, owner of Eyadini Lounge, known for its shisanyama and events in uMlazi. It will definitely be the place to be for some celeb spotting.

Zama described his marquee, Eyadini Village, currently being set up at the racecourse as “the largest and best” marquee at the Durban July.

Gqom artists the Distruction Boyz. Picture Leon Lestrade. African News Agency/ANA
Gqom artists the Distruction Boyz. Picture Leon Lestrade. African News Agency/ANA

“When you come in, you are treated as a VIP. We have the best musicians, the best entertainment, selected drinks, lounge area, and such a great atmosphere. Everybody wants to come to Eyadini and we take care of everyone, that’s why we are loved,” said Zama.

The restaurant will host a pre-party on Friday, and an after-party on Sunday. Guests will be able to enter via the VIP entrance, access to the deck with lounge facilities, bar service, buffet lunch and dinner, private tote facilities, and access to a garden area.

“There’s no time to rest, we have the best. We started small, but now we are the place that everyone wants to be at, and we are a good platform for musicians and DJs to show their talents. People will enjoy themselves next week,” he said.

Also hot on the scene this year is the King Dube July Shutdown on Sunday at the Whirling Wheels Club, Stamfordhill. Events organiser Junior Lavie promised a party that would not involve “winding down”.

“This is new on the scene and will be the biggest after-party with artists such as AKA, Shekhinah, Emtee, Khanyi Mbau, Nicole Nyaba, Babalwa Mneno, Jr Derocka, NAG, Sthelo Shozi and many more,” he said.

Khanyi Mbau
Khanyi Mbau

But, even before the official race day gets under way, pre-parties get the mood started in Durban. Absolute Florida, in Durban’s social hot spot of Florida Road, starts their pre-party with DJ Sox, Stanky, Jnr B, Malumz on Decks, Sonic and Abbu to name a few. The party will be hosted by well-known model Nqobile Mabizela, also known as Cocoriana.

Meanwhile, construction of the marquees at the Marquee Village has just been completed, according to organisers, and in the coming days decor teams will add their touch in creating the scene set to the theme of “It is Time”.

The marquee village will have 30 marquees, and will accommodate about 13000 guests. Around 3500 chefs, waitrons and hospitality staff will work from the early morning providing food, drinks and entertainment.

Gold Circle will hand out an award for the best hospitality venue.

Models Cayden Porter, Khwezi Ngwenya Ntombela, Mfundo Kunene, Nayizolo Simelane and Brian Whitby at the July Gallops.
Models Cayden Porter, Khwezi Ngwenya Ntombela, Mfundo Kunene, Nayizolo Simelane and Brian Whitby at the July Gallops.

Event World, the company that manages the hospitality at the Vodacom Durban July, said there was a strong demand for all levels of hospitality on offer, from the elite VVIP lounges to the popular picnic sites.

“We have added new picnic site areas to cater for the demand. There’s been a major increase in demand for the picnic sites over the past two weeks and lots of excitement over the upgraded Public Area,” said Event World’s Nellie Mhlongo.

The main stage area will be the focus of the fashion programme.

Such will be the glitz and glamour on the day that, ahead of time, media personality DJ Tbo Touch and his crew will make their way from Johannesburg to Durban in what is being dubbed “the supercar convoy”: each car making the trip will be valued at more than R1million.