Valentines In Your Pocket 2024: Vote for your favourite Joburg love story

01 Mar 2024
Inspired by Valentine's Day and the month of love, we teamed up with voco Hotel The Bank to collect uniquely Joburg- and Gauteng-inspired love stories for our inaugural #ValentinesInYourPocket competition. We adored reading your magical love stories with the city of Joburg as a catalyst and sustaining force. With the top 10 selected, it's time to choose this year's winner.

The most original love story stands to win a prize valued at R5,000 consisting of one night's stay for two in a Premium Room at the glamorous voco The Bank in Rosebank, plus breakfast and dinner at Proud Mary.

Read the stories and click here to VOTE for your favourite.

The top 10 entries for our #ValentinesInYourPocket competition. Vote for your favourite here.

1. Dale Linström

We met on a failed blind date! My husband-to-be was on a blind date with another girl, set up by a mutual friend at her birthday party in a Joburg bar. But as fate would have it, when we locked eyes across the table, our destiny was set into action.
A failed blind date turned into perfect fate for Dale Linström. Photo: Dale Linström.

What makes Joburg special to you and your partner?

We love exploring Joburg and its surrounds. It's home to us and we cannot think of a better place to live. From the Jjacaranda-lined streets to weekend getaways in the Cradle of Humankind, city walks, and relaxing dinners over the iconic skyline... we have it all in 011!

Your favourite places in the city to visit together?

We love doing walking tours through the city, reliving the history of years gone by, and making new memories in it. Sundowners on rooftops, markets in the city, walks in the botanical gardens, road races through the city and suburbs, all of these add a dimension to Joburg that we love.

2. Dylan Paton

My partner Wesley and I met in 2013 at one of the many Rand Club events we were both attending at the time. Due to some mixed signals, flawed information, and frankly, Wesley still being in the closet, it wasn't until Valentine's Day 2014 that Wesley asked me out. A few days later was our first date at the now sadly closed Griffin in Illovo, and a few days later our second date and first kiss... appropriately also at the Rand Club.

As much as this is our love story, it's also the love story between us and the Club and by extension the City Centre. We've celebrated birthdays and anniversaries at the Club, it's where we first said "I love you" to each other, and now it's also where we celebrated saying our "I dos" to one another. For Valentine's Day this year, we invited our nearest and dearest to celebrate our 10th anniversary of being together, and while we did that, we also threw in a surprise wedding.
Joburg's Rand Club stars in this duo's love story. Photo: Dylan Paton.

The Club and their staff made our secret nuptials so special, helping out in every way possible. We'll have fond memories of the entire day – picking up the register from the beautiful Magistrate's Court a few blocks from the Club, shopping for flowers at the Multiflora Flower Market in City Deep, enjoying the wedding in the clubhouse that first brought us together, and then waking up to the hustle and bustle of this amazing city for our first day as husbands.

What makes Joburg special to you and your partner?

We are the quintessential Joburg diehards – we will extol the city's virtues to any and all, far and wide. The energy and vibrancy of the city is what does it for us, it's unlike anywhere else in the world. The multicultural nature is also a huge factor in our love of Joburg – one visit to the Rand Club for one of their many social events would display this to anyone, it truly is a wonderfully welcoming and inclusive space.

3. Elizabeth Keikantse Kgosiemang

We met on a warm Tuesday morning, in Dobsonville in the middle of Soweto. I thought him so weird, especially because he kept grinning at me, with no idea who I was. He later bought me a slab of chocolate and sent it to me via my younger sister. He'd probe her with questions about what I liked. 

One day, he visited with avocados because he'd been told I love avocados. It was so odd, but so thoughtful. For weeks, he'd always ask what I'd like him to get for me when he returned from work. He got to my heart through my stomach...

Dobsonville, Soweto, was where I met the man who'd become my cuddly bear who gives me forehead kisses and apologises when he's not able to make breakfast. We are our most authentic selves. He never used the excuse of how there isn't much in the area but made efforts to share love and happiness. From taking walks to the shops, watching sunsets, or simply just watching him water the garden while I read. It's been a beautiful journey.
Forget flowers, avocados get you the girl. Photo: Elizabeth Keikantse Kgosiemang.

Your favourite places in the city to visit together?

1947 on Vilakazi in Orlando is one of our favourite restaurants, and reminds us of how we share the love of food and chilled vibes. We've since gone on to explore restaurants in greater Johannesburg. We recently celebrated our matrimonials at Ten Bompas Hotel in Dunkeld, and we couldn't believe it was in Johannesburg. Exploring the city and its little nooks, where there is delicious food of course, and him taking me out to bookshops to splurge! But our all-time favourite place is the garden in our yard; it's calm, peaceful, pretty, and a place to just 'be'. 

4. Fehmida Jordaan

We first met at the Sasol garage near Tarlton Raceway after a session of drag racing (yes, I used to do that). We were introduced by mutual friends, but because I was usually one of just a couple of girls in the group it wasn’t unusual to just see or meet a new guy who’d be joining us all for coffee after a night of racing. Facebook had other ideas though, because a few weeks later we somehow got to chatting on Facebook and he said, “Oh, but we’ve met before.” I was so confused. He explained, but it took a while. 

We chatted for about a month or so before meeting again (at Tarlton, ironically) and then again over the weekend in the Joburg City Centre, as well as a Sunday stroll at a park in Fourways. He proposed the Monday after and we got married two weeks later. What a whirlwind!
Drag racing spurred a whirlwind romance. Photo: Fehmida Jordaan.

What makes Joburg special to you and your partner?

The city has such a special character to it. I love that we are both unafraid to explore which means we venture out to experience new and different things. We take drives to take in the city views from Munro Drive, we head to the city to watch shows at Joburg Theatre, and now and again we’ll take a drive through the City Centre or just enjoy the quiet highways on a Sunday evening. 

5. Gerard Bester

Our eyes met at the Peace March in Yeoville on November 30, 1995 – cruising while protesting, the shame! Also called the anti-drug march, it was to protest the death of Jamaican immigrant Ridley Wright, the owner of Crackers restaurant, who was stabbed by a drug pusher. We made our way back to Yeo Street where I stayed and Richard moved in soon after that.
Love at first (peaceful) protest. Photo: Gerard Bester.

Richard had moved to Yeoville from Cape Town and stayed in a flat on Eckstein Street. I had recently moved from Glenton Court to a house on Yeo Street. Just over 10 years later and some good raves at the Old Johannesburg Station, The Old Fort (further shame), and warehouses in the city, Johannesburg Child Welfare guided us in adopting our son and, three years later, our daughter. In 2022, we celebrated our one-night honeymoon at Troyeville Hotel overlooking the city. This after a super romantic wedding at Home Affairs in Randburg.

What makes Joburg special to you and your partner?

It is a place of acceptance and support. Our neighbourhood, Parkview Junior, Parkview Senior, and Greenside have held us as a family.

6. Heather Mason

Thorsten and I met in the middle of 2020 – between Covid waves – in the Brixton backyard of our friends Ashley and Sifiso, who used to run the Roving Bantu Kitchen (which sadly closed during Covid). We had both been frequent patrons of the Roving Bantu and Thorsten lived across the street from Ashley and Sifiso, but we had never met before that night.

It's surprising... as we are both die-hard Joburg enthusiasts and had many Jozi friends in common. Thorsten was already a reader of my blog (which he only revealed halfway through the night) and I was vaguely aware of his name as a Joburg architect, but otherwise, we knew nothing about each other.
Two die-hard Joburg enthusiasts. Photo: Heather Mason.

What makes Joburg special to you and your partner?

Thorsten runs an architecture practice called 26'10 South, which is named after the latitude of Johannesburg. I write a blog, 2Summers, that is mostly about exploring Joburg and surrounds. So the city played a huge role in our relationship from the start, and we have similar ways of interacting with Joburg, for example, we are interested in all of the city's neighbourhoods and we've both spent a lot of time in places like Hillbrow and Alexandra, which some Joburgers consider dangerous or off-limits.

When we explore the city together, I take photos, Thorsten sketches, and I include all the imagery we create in my blog. We're both fascinated by Joburg's people, its art, food, fashion, and design. Neither of us can imagine living anywhere else.

7. Melinda du Toit

I met the son of a Free State farmer 41 years ago while we were studying in Pretoria. He grew up on a farm near a small hamlet called Verkeerdevlei ('wrong valley') while I grew up in Johannesburg. I told him from the word go that I am a Jozi girl in every sense of my being. Despite our different backgrounds, we got married and, as a compromise between a hamlet and a big city, we chose to settle in a town called Potchefstroom (150km south of Johannesburg).

However, throughout the 25 years we lived there, I always longed to return to Joburg, a city he said he could never live in. I have often escaped the unbearable stuffy town life to seek the excitement and exhilaration of city life over a weekend just to let my soul survive. In 2019, I was given the opportunity to work at the University of Johannesburg. When I left, everyone who knew me was surprised to see me filled with joy to return to a city they considered dangerous and unsavoury.

My husband and I started living in two different towns and began dating again – smiles all around. I told him my heart would be broken if I had to leave Jozi again. However, he maintains that he would rather die than live in Jozi. Fast forward to January 2023... and my hubby and I have bought and moved into our small home in Roosevelt Park, Johannesburg.
Falling in love with the city. Photo: Melinda du Toit.

How did I pull this off, you might ask? Well, I made him fall in love with my home city. Whenever my husband visited me in Johannesburg I used to plan exciting activities for us. We would take walks in the botanical gardens, have some scrumptious and affordable meals at the Green Room, go on inspiring walking and cycling tours, listen to stimulating stories, go on tours with Charlie Moyo of JoburgPlaces, spend evenings on rooftops (Alto 234, Hallmark House, Elevate at the Reef Hotel, and more), enjoy movies, food, and music at Artistry, spend long, glorious afternoons and evenings at 44 Stanley and The Bioscope, have picnics at Emmarentia Dam and the Joburg Zoo, and go to the theatre at Montecasino and UJ. 

Every time he visited, he was blown away by the amazing spaces, places, and people that Johannesburg had to offer. And with each visit, he fell more in love with the city. Whenever I ask my husband if he moved to Johannesburg because of his love for me and our 35-year marriage, he always answers, "Yes, but I also fell in love with your ‘hood. I don't want to live anywhere else."

Johannesburg has transformed a true-blood Free State farmer into a bald, snazzy-hat-wearing, proud Johannesburger. On his 61st birthday in 2024, I gifted him Gauteng number plates for his car and he was overjoyed. Love for me brought him here to visit, but love for this incredible, vibrant, and amazing city made him stay. We will stay here until the end.

What makes Joburg special to you and your partner?

The lovely places and spaces, but especially the diverse, vibrant, friendly, accepting, interesting, energetic, and colourful people living side by side in this electrifying, dazzling city.

8. Melissa Griesel

Koos and I met at the back of Tokyo Star in Melville in 2004. We sat at the back chatting on those concrete benches. I was dating my varsity boyfriend so didn’t think too much of the conversation until we met again at a friend's wedding engagement party at Kitchener's. He lit my cigarette on the dance floor there and then we made out in a photo booth. P.S. Our wedding anniversary is February 7. 
"He lit my cigarette on the dance floor and then we made out." Photo: Melissa Griesel.

What makes Joburg special to you and your partner?

We explore all the parts of Joburg that excite us. From the rose gardens to nightlife, music and DJ events, skateboarding, amazing restaurants, parks to walks and picnics, and theatre. It’s wonderful to connect and enjoy all the people and experiences here.

9. Sara Didiza

It was an unexpected knock on my door one Saturday afternoon in my security complex (if you live here you see the miracle already) that led to an unexpected visitor and an even more unexpected conversation. The conversation left the complex to have a wander through Sandton City. Four hours of banter and browsing later, we knew we needed to revisit this.

Our first official date started at a Banting Food Market in Pretoria. Then led to a café in Hazelwood. Then a park for an impromptu picnic of milk tart and, 14 hours later, through two different dinner spots at Village Walk to show off "our favourites". Nine months later, our engagement started with a treasure hunt from the same apartment, to a flight over Haarties Dam, a spa treatment in Irene, and ended with a red carpet proposal in Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens.
A Pretoria boy finds his Jozi girl. Photo: Sara Didiza.

A year later we had an open wedding service at the historic Alexander Theatre in Braamfontein where our church community is based, followed by a reception at Shepstone Gardens in Mountain View. Every anniversary has been a staycation across the city – Palazzo, Clico, Fairlawns. All our best date nights since are here. The City of Gold is the golden thread through every moment of our love story and it is how this Jozi girl won over her Pretoria boy to the best side of GP!

What makes Joburg special to you and your partner?

The City holds all of our firsts: our first meeting was here, our first kiss, our engagement and wedding, our first one-bedroom shared apartment where we survived the lockdowns together, and now our first owned home. It is where we landed our dream jobs and where we have gathered all of our friends, old and new, to live nearby. It is the place where diversity is celebrated and where we feel most included in the pulse of South Africa.

10. Victoria González

I was merely in Johannesburg to mend my broken heart. My partner, Natalia, had lost her battle with cancer, and I needed to get away from all the hollow places that once belonged to us. So I left Los Angeles with the mindset that the one person who completed my puzzle was gone and anyone else that came my way would just be “a bit of fun”. I was very wrong.

Stefan and I met amongst the jovial chaos of the festive season. Initially, it was online; we shared an interest in film, but our conversations quickly evolved into something deeper. He approached the loss of Natalia with kindness and made me laugh every chance he got. We shared an undeniable connection, but he was in Cape Town on holiday and I had to go back to the States. It was never going to work.

I’d be lying if I said he never crossed my mind, but life moves on. Or at least life moves on until you’re three tequilas deep at an “I Hate Valentine’s Day” party. I texted him. Then began the marathon of messages and video chats until I realised we had to meet. Fast forward to six months later, and I was heading to Johannesburg to meet the person who would show me you don’t get one soulmate, you get many.
"He showed me you don't get one soulmate, you get many." Photo: Victoria González.

On the plane, I remember the captain announcing our descent into Jozi and the city below never looked so bright. I couldn’t stop smiling, knowing I’d get to see it all, and I’d get to see it with Stefan. I had 90 days to decide if I loved him enough to uproot my entire life, but I only needed one. After passport checks, customs, and baggage collection I walked down the long hallway in O.R. Tambo and turned through the corridor. There he was waiting for me with a baggage cart, flowers, and a SIM card. I could feel it, my heart was beginning to heal.

What makes Joburg special to you and your partner?

Our love story with each other is deeply intertwined with our love of the city. It’s a big love set amongst the smaller places in Joburg. We spent our first date eating sushi at Ha-Song before he walked me to Checkers to buy me as many South African sweets as I could stomach. For our second date, we went bowling at the Cresta arcade and crawled into the tunnel under the giant fish tank to get a better view. We watched the sunset at the Northcliff water tower while he pointed to all the places that meant something to him. And we said “I love you” for the first time at a house party in Melville. All these places where we did simple, little things add up to what we have now.

Vote for your favourite Joburg love story here.

The most original love story will win a prize to the value of R5,000 consisting of one night's stay for two in a Premium Room at the voco Hotel The Bank, as well as breakfast and dinner at Proud Mary. 

This isn't your ordinary hotel. Photo: voco Hotel The Bank.

The Art Deco-inspired voco Hotel The Bank in Rosebank is a study in contemporary elegance. The glamorous Proud Mary restaurant in the lobby has one of the sexiest bars in Joburg, and there are over 700 original South African artworks throughout the building. The hotel rooms continue the theme of city chic, with large volume, floor-to-ceiling windows making the most of natural lighting and giving views beyond Rosebank’s little cityscape towards the tree-covered suburbs in just about every direction.

*Voting closes at 12:00 midday on Tue, Mar 5. The winners will be announced on Thu, Mar 7 in our newsletter. Sign up here:

- You must be 18 years or older to vote.
- You must be following Johannesburg In Your Pocket on at least one social platform and subscribed to our weekly newsletter.
- You may only vote once. 


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