Goodbye J&B Hive: A trip down memory lane

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The J&B Hive was located at 81 De Korte Street, Braamfontein. Photo: Supplied
The J&B Hive was located at 81 De Korte Street, Braamfontein. Photo: Supplied

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The Covid-19 pandemic has not only caused devastation in our economy and taken the people we love. It has also taken away the joy of watching our favourite musicians live, going out for a night on the town after a stressful week, and even taken away the places that were historically important in their subcultural communities.

Last week we said goodbye to yet another location loved by many. Located in the heart of Braamfontein, Johannesburg, the J&B Hive was known by many as a place for music, art and lifestyle to come together. Fans and collaborators were given the news through a tweet released by the Hive, which said, “After a year of navigating the highs and lows, hopes and fears, we have decided to close our organisation”.

The news devastated many Jozi creatives.

The J&B Hive was not only a place to experience art, but also a large contributor to the success of many artists we know and love today. It gave countless young people the opportunity to grow and become better and more experienced creatives, as well as nurtured communities and offered educational opportunities that helped to improve the lives of disenfranchised people.

The J&B Hive was also responsible for events that kept the streets talking months after they happened; introducing us to artists who continue to make noise in the underground circuit, such as queer rapper Gyre, alt-R&B sensation Namakau and breakthrough hip-hop artist of 2019, J Molley. They exhilarated crowds with their bold and inspiring performances on the Hive stage.

J Molley was one of the many talents to showcase their skills at The J&B Hive. Photo: Supplied

The performance and event space will perhaps be hit the hardest through the closure of the J&B Hive. It was home to Vogue Nights Jozi, the queer event that catapulted the career of deejay, activist and artist Lelowhatsgood and opened his career to international events such as the 2019 Afropunk festival.

How could we forget the events hosted by creative entrepreneur Tsholofelo Bhungane Radebe at the Hive? A pioneer in the promotion of alternative arts and media, hosting heavyweights in the alternative space such as Naye Ayla and wonder kid ASAP Shembe in 2019, Radebe’s events at the Hive created an electrifying atmosphere for whoever attended.

#Trending caught up with the business maverick to find out his reaction to the devastating news:

I just remember the community, and the family it created; they gave us the space, and it was safe.
Radebe

Through their Hive Network, helped to create the avenues for black people, women and members of the LGBTIQ+ community to create and thrive unapologetically. Through collaborating with content-creation agency Black Thighs media and one of Design Indaba’s top 40 emerging creatives, clothing brand I Run JHB, the Hive helped to propel creative companies and gave them the space to accelerate their businesses.

“I’ve been able to host my event, Woke Arts, host listening sessions, and become a better businessman through the Hive. I truly believe that it is an important part of our youth’s history. Creativity is already undermined, but being a black creative means being underpaid, marginalised and undermined twice. The J&B Hive managed to prioritise and push our dreams forward. Covid-19 is taking that away from us,” Radebe said.

The J&B Hive was located at 81 De Korte Street, Braamfontein. Photo: Supplied
Inside the J&B Hive in Braamfontein. Photo: Supplied
The Hive network’s “behind the scenes” team. Photo: Supplied
The Hive was a place to network and enhance skills. Photo: Supplied

The Hive became a space where people could gather and share, experiment, and be a part of a community that was not judgemental. When asked how he felt about the Hive closing its doors, Radebe said, “I feel I’ve been done dirty. Corporations only see creativity as a moment to advertise themselves, but we need to promote ourselves too. Losing the Hive feels disheartening.”

READ: An ode to The Dome

Saying goodbye to the space is made even more difficult by the fact that it was brought on through the Covid-19 pandemic. Artists and creatives are facing the stark reality that many other beloved places that contributed to creative culture as we know it might not make it out. Saying goodbye to the J&B Hive was bidding farewell to an era. Its efforts in giving back and empowering creatives can never be replicated.

“Even though it’s sad, I hope that people can remember what it has done for black people in the entertainment and creative industry,” said Radebe. “It’s taught me, and I hope everyone else, that, as a black person, you have to have a more robust business acumen. I hope that people have learnt that, through initiatives such as the J&B Hive, we are able to make spaces for ourselves as well.”


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