Kaapse Klopse – Dancing In the Streets

On Saturday, January 4, 2014, the City of Cape Town came alive with color and music for the annual Kaapse Klopse celebration.  The festival dates back to the 19th century when slaves would be given January 2nd off to celebrate the new year in their own manner.  (The festival is typically held on January 2nd, however due to rumored legal battles, this year’s celebration was pushed to the 4th).  Slavery was abolished in Cape Town on December 1, 1834, but this annual tradition continues today.  Today, the festival is considered a right of renewal that was shaped by the Cape’s history.

The festival winds through downtown Cape Town and eventually ends in Ba-Kaap, the Malay Quarter in Signal Hill.  This year the colorful and joyful parade included roughly 75 different troupes (klopse “clubs”) with nearly 13,000+ individuals participating.  The participants, either carrying colorful umbrellas or playing an array of musical instruments, are typically from Afrikaans-speaking working class of Cape families that have preserved the tradition.

Before attending the celebration, I was a little nervous about our safety being downtown for such a large city-wide celebration, but once we arrived, my fears were cast aside.  The celebration was very family-friendly and we felt welcomed into the fun by the thousands of spectators, as well as the parade participants themselves.  The pride and excitement of the event was very evident in all that participated.  As you will see from many of the photos, the beautiful and friendly participants would happily pose in front of our camera or smile with a shy request to have their photo taken too.  It was a fantastic day of celebration and music!  I loved it.

 

More photos of the fun below!