Experience Durban July as it gallops into your virtual space
At a press conference organised by eThekwini Municipality and Gold Circle, it was confirmed that following the global trend of hosting events remotely, the 124th edition of the Vodacom Durban July would take place on Saturday, July 25.
Held behind closed doors and with none of the revelry that usually comes with the more than 50 000 guests who descend on Greyville Racecourse every year, the Durban Virtual July Experience will still aim to celebrate the sport of horse racing and all the extras it comes with – fashion, food and entertainment.
The event usually brings in more than R300 million during the Durban July weekend and creates more than 2 000 jobs for people in and around the municipality. Hosting the event virtually will still allow for some economic activity for the city.
eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda, said the virtual event was a concept that aimed to promote Durban and what it had to offer. He said he hoped that the virtual event would also bring a jolt of nostalgia to people who had previously attended the event, so that they make sure they attend in 2021.
“We want to remind people what it felt like to be in Durban during the Durban July weekend. We also want to encourage our people to explore what more Durban has to offer.”
Steven Marshall of Gold Circle said they had been working hard in trying to salvage the event and be able to still host it this month.
“It was important for us to be socially responsible during this time and make sure that the event continues, but happens virtually,” he said.
To allow that to happen, there have been a number of changes.
“Beyond just the event being hosted behind closed doors and aired on Tellytrack, there will now be 10 races instead of the usual 12, to ensure that it remains a daytime event.
“People will still be able to watch the race on TV, while getting to relive past moments. In the lead-up to the race day we will have interviews with trainers and jockeys who have won the Vodacom Durban July four times.”
While punters will say the races are the biggest drawcard of the Durban July, some would argue that the entertainment and fashion events are more important.
While there will be no on-site entertainment or fashion shows this year, they will still be a part of the virtual experience.
Marshall said they were running webinars for creating masks and headgear that would be suitable to wear at the Durban July. There will also be a competition for the best mask that will be run on the Vodacom Durban July social media pages.
“The only design criteria is that the new glam fashion masks must include the ‘Butterfly’ theme. Aspiring designers can submit their version of the most talked-about fashion accoutrement of 2020 via Instagram and Twitter with the hashtags #VDJ2020 and #StayConnected.
“We are also encouraging people to dress up in their VDJ finest and post on social media what they are wearing on the day as they watch the races on TV.”
The VDJ fashion showcase will take on a different angle this year. The invited designers have been asked to transform a garment that they have previously showcased at VDJ, in the spirit of the #VDJ2020 theme, Butterflies. The Young Designers competition is also still on the go, but has been pushed back to next month.
Deputy city manager Philip Sithole, confirmed that there was a big focus on entertainment at the virtual event.
“The Durban July benefits many sub-sectors, from fashion, food to entertainment. We recognise this, so there will be a pre-party starting at 6pm on the Friday and then Fact Durban Rocks have a lockdown after-party on Channel O on the Saturday from 6pm until midnight,” he said.
He also urged those who would be taking part in the event, to order from local restaurants to boost the city’s economy.
“I have missed restaurants and now that they are open, this is an opportunity for us to support them by ordering their meals so that we can have enough time to enjoy the virtual experience. We also encourage restaurants to create packages around the event so that they can deliver them in time for the Virtual July.”