Rest to revel: Sunday groove in Johannesburg

15 May 2024

Sundays in Joburg were once synonymous with tranquillity and reflection, steeped in the tradition of rest, and family time. A day for a well-deserved lie-in, a sunrise jog or cycle, or taking advantage of quieter roads.

A traditional South African Sunday was once a sacred day marked by many faithful flocking to churches, seeking spiritual nourishment and fellowship. Afterwards, families gathered for brunches, braais or a seven-colour lunch.

Not so much in 2024. What was once a day reserved for only rest is now a rise in revelry. With the Joburg weekend starting on Thursday, you would imagine a steady petering out of energy by Sunday. But Joburg is no ordinary city and Sundays in the city have now emerged as the unexpected canvas for social gatherings, offering a new type of fellowship – groove.

It's more like a second Saturday, a chance to squeeze every last drop of indulgence and enjoyment from the weekend before the impending return to the grind of the work week. "Work hard, play hard” is a Joburg axiom. 

The last dance at Sunday Roast's final edition. Photo: Supplied.

The initial signs of the emergence of the so-called 'Sunday groove' can be traced back to as early as 2017, thanks to events such as Until Until's Sunday Roast and Homecoming Events' Tshwanefontein. Sunday Roast, which initially began as a birthday celebration at Great Dane in Braamfontein in 2017, gradually evolved into a beloved monthly gathering. It recently marked its 50th and final edition on Sun, May 5, 2024. The day after each event, attendees would often express their happiness on social media, dubbing it "the happiest place on Earth”, which would become its tagline.

Although held in Pretoria, many Joburgers were willing to travel north to experience the party that is Tshwanefontein. Held on the last Sunday of each month at the African Beer Emporium in the 012 Central courtyard, Tshwanefontein showcased sounds from local acts alongside headliners, including Kelvin Momo and DBN GOGO. Its run continued until the beginning of 2023, leaving a lasting impact on Sunday groove in both cities. While those events have run their course, the Sunday groove scene continues to flourish with a plethora of vibrant parties to explore.

"We have ambitions in terms of the kind of artists we want to book, the places we want to go, the designs we want to bring to life, and the ideas we want to execute."  – Thubelihle Nkutha, Soundset Sunday


While there's no specific formula for a perfect Sunday groove, it's all about afternoon fun. Most parties start around lunchtime and end early enough for you to be home and ready for work. It's a great chance to wear your Sunday best and enjoy a laid-back and fun time with friends and even make some new ones. It's a delightful mix of music, fashion, food, venue, and ambience, with each event focusing on what they believe is the best, making each unique. In light of that, we have a few on our radar that make us want to spend our Sundays there and get our groove on...

'Sunday Groove Lite' at The Pantry 

We are naming this one ourselves. Since opening in Rosebank, The Pantry by Marble has attracted legions of fans who flock to this fancy 24-hour service station for gourmet treats such as delicious soft serve, pâtisserie, ready-to-go meals, and wood-fired pizza. Pantry has become a way of life in Joburg, a pre-party, after-party, and overall party spot. We wouldn't be surprised to hear it's next up as a wedding spot (jokes, we think?).

The Pantry, on Jan Smuts Avenue, is part of Keyes Art Mile.

Never Rush A Sunday

Never Rush A Sunday's theme, Can I call you Rose? had revellers dressed in red. Photo: Supplied.

Often, great ideas start small, and that's precisely the case with Never Rush A Sunday. Ano Makunike, co-founder of Blank Spaces Records and organiser of Never Rush A Sunday, told us that the event was inspired by a playlist curated by a friend. It evolved, spurred by his business partner and close friend, Stephen Kent, and what began as a simple idea has blossomed into a bespoke experience tailored primarily for women, encompassing everything from carefully selected music and drinks to fashion.

Attendees can dress up for themes inspired by cultural references, usually represented by a designated colour or material. The last theme was Can I Call You Rose? which inspired many to wear pops of red. Music curation is another important aspect. In a party space dominated by electronic dance music from Afro-tech to amapiano, Never Rush A Sunday takes a more mellow approach, Makunike explains: “Whilst the Afro-tech and amapiano are great genres we get so much of that already that once a month it feels good to be at an event where you can hear some Spice Girls or or Mafikizolo. You get to hear the music we grew up to, your favourite sing-alongs, and without the pressure of having to know the latest dance challenge.”

The next Never Rush A Sunday is on Sun, May 26 and the theme is Fade To Black, so be sure to dress in the darkest hue.

SorBae Sundays

Sundays and sundaes at SorBae Sundays. Photo: SorBae Sundays via Instagram.

Zesty Lemon, Juicy Grape, and Banana Sundae may seem like unexpected party themes, but Verdine Petersen, Akio Kawahito, and Nathan Summers of SorBae Sundays somehow pull it off. Every Sunday, SorBae Sundays takes over  A Streetbar Named Desire in Parkwood, offering a cool musical experience with a fun line-up of DJs and a chance to indulge in popsicles in the flavour of the week. What a sweet way to end the weekend.

Find out the new flavour of the week via SorBae Sundays' Instagram.

Soundset Sunday

Soundset Sunday's fan base and their word of mouth have been pivotal in the event's growth. Photo: Supplied.

Introducing fresh sounds and spaces has been a central focus for the founders of Soundset SundayThubelihle Nkutha and Neo Mosito. Drawing from their own experiences as DJs, they launched Soundset Sunday in the winter of 2019. Unhappy with the state of music curation and parties, and not booking as many gigs as they had hoped, they decided to start their own parties with the strong support and encouragement of their fan base. Despite initially drawing crowds of around 80 people, the positive response fuelled their determination to continue, and since then, Soundset Sunday has become a celebration of community.

"It is a well-curated musical experience where you're sure to hear familiar favourites as well as new talent, both of whom set a musical backdrop that can foster togetherness," explains Mosito. Nkutha adds that consistency has been key to their success, as they continuously refine and enhance the event. "It's all about perfecting our craft and making incremental improvements. We have ambitions in terms of the kind of artists we want to book, the places we want to go, the designs we want to bring to life, and the ideas we want to execute; in 2024 and 2025 we're poised to deliver an unforgettable experience to our audience."

Check out the Soundset Sundays Instagram for announcements of the 2024/2025 season.

Brunch On Sundays

A cocktail of fun at Brunch On Sundays. Photo: Brunch On Sundays via Instagram.

Held on the rooftop of the Hallmark House Hotel in New Doornfontein, Brunch on Sundays is a monthly meet-up that offers panoramic views of the city, mimosas, and music. With a carefully curated menu and affordable drinks, it's a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Get your tickets for the next Brunch On Sunday on Sun, Jun 2 here.

Pantone Sundays

Going green at Pantone Sundays. Photo: Pantone Sundays via Instagram.

Another party that paints the town the colour of the day is Pantone Sundays. Spearheaded by Joburg tastemaker Nandi Dlepu and her amazing work with creative agency Mamakashaka, it's perfect for fashion lovers who eagerly embrace the beauty of monochrome. Now held at the agency's new home, Mamakashaka & Friends in Braamfontein, these gatherings are renowned for their vibrant atmosphere and sell out quickly. With a fashion pop-up, a trendy photo booth, and a tempting array of cocktails, it's an experience that promises style and substance.

Keep a fashionable eye out on Pantone Sundays' Instagram for the next edition.

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