A first experience of Stellenbosch starts in Bohemia, like any experience in Stellenbosch does. Don't let the name fool you; “bohemian” only describes the day crowd who leave before 8pm. Because after dark, this becomes everyone's favourite place to start the night, to end the night, and to stop at in-between, arguably due to their signature drink: Boxed wine sold in its original 500ml container. Ordering anything else there just makes it seem like you're trying to be different and that is heavily frowned upon.
A group of twelve first-year girls crowd loudly around one of the hard-to-come-by tables. They're standing (chairs are even harder to come by) with their hips toward the entrance and constantly sneaking obvious glances over their shoulders to see if anyone's noticing how cool they are, while seemingly remaining engrossed in animated conversation. Every single one of them is wearing a white shirt, faded skinny jeans, a brown faux-vintage belt. Their long "natural" locks are tied up in "casual" ponytails. Of course they're all drinking Rosé.
Die Mystic Boer (Mystics to locals) caters for the overflow from Bohemia next door. The retro-kitsch décor seems to say that nothing's changed here since the seventies when Koos Kombuis wrote "Lente in die Boland". That may not be entirely untrue either. Hippies can still be hippies here and going out barefoot is still 100% groovy at any bar in Stellenbosch. When your tie-dye shirt makes the strobes look dim, a beard and bandana is all you'll need to complete the look. Sucking on your cigarette like it doesn't only contain tobacco will get you bonus points.
It's not that student stereotypes are very different in Stellenbosch, it's just that here, sub-cultural groups are prouder of their uniforms. Being overtly stylish isn't a trend; it's a prerequisite, day and night, come rain or shine.
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