By Nomali Cele
This Jazzuary has come with some bad news. Johannesburg’s favourite Jazz venue, The Orbit, is closing.
Announced on its social media channels on 3 January 2018, The Orbit’s closure had the venue’s loyal patrons shocked. No one saw the move coming. Driven by an ethos that was all about preserving South African Jazz heritage, the venue has been a part of the city’s fabric for nearly five years.
In a longer statement, which is dated 2 January, the owners of the venue expand a little bit on the reasons behind The Orbit closing down. “We have unfortunately not been able to overcome the financial constraints that we have found with running a live music venue like The Orbit,” the statement reads.
The wonderful thing about how the Jazz venue, which was also a bistro, was run is that there were performances on most nights of the week with music suited for different interests. There was never a dull night. From the young artists coming in, to legends such as Bra Hugh, Bra Hotstix and Sibongile Khumalo, they all found a home on that stage
The closure of The Orbit comes as a bitter pill to swallow because there are so few live performance venues left in the city. The pool shrinks, even more, when the music is something as niche as Jazz.
In 2018, the owners ran a crowdfunding campaign to raise money, which would have been able to save the venue and keep its doors open. The goal for the campaign was R1 million but the donations received barely passed the R30, 000 mark. This has brought us to this day, a Braamfontein without this impactful venue.
“We are truly blessed with extremely good talent in the country and continent and hope that musicians will find a space in society to continue their much-needed work,” says the statement.
With The Orbit closed, the Johannesburg live music scene, and those who love it, have lost a much-needed home. Both the musicians and music lovers have lost something quite precious.