A Day in Durban with Matt Vend

For the latest Day in Durban, we call on the local knowledge of Durban punk stalwart, Matt Vend. Matt has spent much of his life surfing, skating and playing in some of Durban’s most influential bands including Sibling Rivalry and The Accidentals. Join Matt as he takes us around town.



Mosques, shops, traffic, old universities, churches, taverns, cemeteries, muti markets, spice merchants, record shops, cellphone dealers, appliance/furniture stores, pawn shops and people from every walk of life imaginable live, breath, loiter and work in the central parts of Durban city. The inner city is one of my favorite parts of Durban; I’ve gotten to know this place fairly well over the years making trips to the workshop as a kid with my parents, watching movies at The Wheel or window shopping on West or Smith Street and studying at D.U.T city campus. A lot has changed down in the inner city since I first started coming here almost 20 years ago and many of the white folk who used to come here or live here have now moved on to the adjacent suburbs or have left Durban or South Africa and often as a white person you find yourself eavesdropping to people in your neighborhood saying things like ‘you know town just isn’t what it used to be’. Urban decay is imminent in most if not all urban spaces unless it’s addressed by the local municipality and Durban in my eyes still has a lot of charm and the city presents itself in a truly unique post-colonial, African and eastern historical mosaic that is rare for any country or city on the planet. Name one other place that has Zulu, English and Eastern influences all co existing side by side?


So for my day in Durban I thought wandering through the streets of town was the only real option, I still get lost in town yet it’s pretty easy to find your way back to your original point as thankfully the city center is pretty small and manageable even through the various arcades, shops, buildings and markets.


Ethiopian Coffee Houses: (hint: it’s walking distance from DUT city campus)



There is a fairly large Ethiopian community in town and this has brought an abundance of coffee into certain areas. However due to being under great scrutiny from a certain hipster who told me that I shouldn’t reveal the location of these coffee houses or else other hipsters might also start going there ruining her chances of buying cheap green beans in peace (this person was the one who brought me to these coffee houses originally, so I need to pay some kind of respect to my source), I will keep the location of this area a mystery you will have to find it yourself. Follow the smell of freshly roasted beans and delicious Ethiopian home cooking and I’m sure you might just find it, the coffee is delicious and comes in at roughly R5 a cup, no sugar or milk needed and it honestly feels like you are in a different city, one that has very little to do with South Africa and more with Haile Selassie and the iconic Ethiopian flag which is often associated with Rastafarian-ism.



Jameson’s Pub: (Guildhall, 25 Dorothy Nyembe (Gardiner) Street)



Jameson’s is an institution for the Durban hip-hop scene; it’s basically the black version of The Winston Pub. It’s pretty much a hole in the wall situated in a crack at the back corner of a block of flats, within the borders of the old mutual building and the royal hotel. It’s dark and dingy, yet the patrons and locals are surprisingly friendly and it’s nice to know a white boy like me can be well received jamming my folk/rock ‘n roll music to a group of people mainly into hip-hop. If you decide to go down to Jameson’s go on a Saturday afternoon after 2pm, it usually gets pretty busy and you’re likely to find some of the regular DJ’s and MCees from the Durban underground making some noise, sometimes the guys congregate in the outside area, and you can often witness young aspiring rappers getting themselves into rap battles or cyphers. The quarts are also well priced and it’s a great way to kick off Saturday.


Ajmeri Record King: (Record King, Shop 2 Ajmeri Arcade, 141a Grey Street)



So one of my favorite activities is listening to music, CD’s and MP’3 are OK, I guess, but nothing beats the sonar experience of listening to music on vinyl, it’s the closest thing to feeling music in its entirety without having to actually be at a live concert. The real Record King in my opinion is Creepy Steve, the feared DJ who used to terrorize every dance floor in Durban with his unashamed retro mash ups on vinyl only, where do you think Fuego Heat got his vibe from? Yes folks Creepy Steve. He took me to this store some years ago and introduced me to the wonderful world of South African afro pop, the store also has the usual international 80’s cheese of the likes of Tiny Turner and Whitney Houston, but the staggering amount of African music from the 80’s makes it another hidden gem and a place that vinyl collectors could spend hours in. I picked up an absolute prize of a record entitled, Ashiko – Gumba Fire (Madlakadlaka) which has already been getting some heavy spins on my record player lately and well worth the R10 that I paid for it.




Little Gujarat: (107 Dr Goonam Street)



Another institution of Durban and some of the cheapest and best vegetarian food you will find in the city. I initially wanted to take the DIY crew to my local bunny/vegetarian spot, The Hare Krishna restaurant situated in the back corner of Salisbury Centre, yet however it being a Saturday they happened to be closed by the time we arrived, although I personally feel that my initial choice has better food, I haven’t been past Little Gujarat for quite some time and a bunny coming in at R10, whose complaining?




Londoners Pub, Durban beachfront: (The Parade Hotel, 191 Or Tambo (Marine) Parade, North Beach)



So after a fairly eventful trip around town Fuego thought it would be a nice idea to go and play some old arcade games, I knew of a place near the beach, yet I forgot to mention that I used to frequent this place roughly 15 years ago or more, so to our dismay it was no longer there. A few of us surf rats would go down to this area near South Beach and play pool, arcade games or disc hockey, on days when there was no surf, most of my youth was actually spent on Durban beach. Then we decided to go have a beer at a pub attached to a hotel opposite New Pier, the hotel is a lot nicer than the bar and if you can get past the crack heads coming up to you, asking for change whilst you are sipping on a draught you might actually get some conversation in with whoever you decide to take to this fine Durban watering hole. The glasses may not have been clean but at least the beer was cold.


Jumping off New Pier:




They say you should never swim after consuming alcohol, however the heat of the day was getting to me and I felt I needed a dip, jumping off the Durban piers is something I’ve been doing for an extremely large part of my life (however usually with a surfboard in hand), it would seem the municipality isn’t very fond of this activity anymore and judging from the signs on the pier I very well may have been arrested for this, but hey I needed a good ending for this article, so I stripped down to my boxers and quickly jumped off and body surfed to the beach and emerged victorious. Victorious because the police van on the promenade didn’t see me and the officers inside the vehicle didn’t decide to escort me to a holding cell somewhere.



Apparently I was also the cheapest date Fuego Heat has ever been on, showing that in Durban anything, well quite a few things are possible, with less than R100 in your pocket.



Coffee (3 cups): R10

Jameson’s Quart (with tip) :R23

Vinyl: R10

Bunny: R10

Cooee: R6

Londoner Draft (with tip): R24

Jumping off the pier: R0

Carguard tip: R3

Total: R86



*All images © Phillip Wilson


18 Responses to “A Day in Durban with Matt Vend”
  1. Skateandhate says:

    Dig it.
    Sick photos to go along too.

  2. Erin says:

    Very cool. Awesome pictures!

  3. Skeg says:

    I was waiting for this one! If there is one guy that knows and loves Durban properly, its this guy! I think that Lonely Plant should commission Matt to help them write the “Durban on a Shoestring”

  4. Jan says:

    Nice! Shot for the invite Matt 😉

    I’d love to spend a day exploring the city like this – will be trying to find the afro-pop shop soon!

  5. Marc says:

    The Ethiopians are on West Street between Brook and Joseph Nduli, opposite the cemetery. Don’t keep it a secret, there is some of the best food in Durban down there and they’d love the extra business.

  6. Alain says:

    I really enjoyed this one – actually makes me wanna visit Durban again.

  7. Dj-Qone says:

    Fresh, i have done some crate digging on the Ajmeri spot and made some beats off those indian records… Jameson’s Pub be the cool spot epecially for Saturdays and the Black Label beer is a bonus. The Winston introduced me to some dope Punk Rock and Live Music.

    Nice article.


  8. Glenn says:

    Great Article and Images, a true representation of the artist himself.

  9. Michelle Churchill says:

    Awesome… I am teaching in South Korea…I miss my home-town Durban…more and more…I want to do that little ‘tour’ as is… awesome!!!!

  10. Bestowe says:

    Keeping buisness from struggling ethieopians is pretty pretty shit and small minded. Eat a dick dick.

  11. Markemark says:

    WOW! Another white person.

  12. Samora says:


  13. Radmin says:

    Hey Markemark, we also noticed (too late) that this has been a very white series but we have non-white guests planned for the future, promise.

    To everyone complaining about Beard not giving the address of the coffee spot, you get that it’s an incentive for you to actually go and explore town? It’s pretty easy to find and there’s lots of cool shit in the area.

  14. cae says:

    Nice!!!! Awesome pics Phillip, well done! Bummed I missed this one.

  15. mthi says:

    lol cooee!! the bizniz

  16. Luca says:

    this looks like an amazing day! next time im up in the 031 im’ma do all of the above.

  17. nick hurford says:

    Thanks for posting your perspective on downtown Durban – a man after my own heart. I lived and worked on ( what was ) Pine Street for about 9 years, til 2006. Man, how I miss all that! A few scrapes and near misses with the local tsotsi element aside, I never felt a deeper sense of home – at once fading, vibrant, scruffy, electric, Durban home – as in those years. Is the Victory Tea Lounge ( Rooms? ) in the “Indian” part of town still in business? The bustling taxi ranks behind the station, the muti markets, the anarchic taverns, the colonial splendour of city hall, the oasis of quiet in the old fort grounds, Umgeni Road, the surfer scene….. take me home! Those gunshots at 3 in the morning, and sometimes in broad daylight, made me appreciate the moment of living more than any philosophizing ever did.

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