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Chillaz – Tankwa Town’s New Social Cafe

Words: Travis Lyle / Images (as per credit)


Back in the dusts of time, if you had ever participated in our events between 2007 and 2009, you’d know that our Operations centre, crew area and DPW were located in the area of a spot called Centre Camp, found at 6ish on the clock in relation to the Binnekring. In 2007, the ‘stage’ consisted of a very large sound system housed in a large stretch tent, with DJ Fletcher of African Dope fame dropping bass-heavy beats to a gathered audience of around, oh, a handful of people. He reckons it was the best gig he ever played.


Over the years, as our event grew, so our community hub grew too – and began to provide a wider range of community services and information boards. And as it grew, so a stage became a feature from 2012, which has gone on to play host to a wide variety of spoken word, discussion panels, live performance and many daytime activities for kids. And now, in 2020, we’re happy to announce that after some discussions and input from community members, our Off-Centre Camp stage has been renamed and revamped – and it will now be known as Chillaz.


It’s a common word used to describe a hangout or chill space in eMzantsi – and that’s the thinking that’s gone into the redesign of our stage space and surrounding frontage. The aim is to create a space that’s both a destination and a social meeting area, performing much the same functions like Centre Camp at Burning Man, with one distinction: at Chillaz, the tea & coffee will be completely free, gratis and mahala.

How did we get here? And why transform Off-Centre Camp Stage?

In 2018, after a few years of developing a fantastic coffee house camp that ran 24/7 and became the favourite social destination for the Tankwa Town community, Alienz Coffee Shop erected their camp for the last time (until further notice).


In the years it was operating, Alienz served a number of purposes (and countless thousands of cups of amazing coffee): it acted as a rendezvous point for people that needed an easily-found social space to connect in the next day, or night, after meeting each other in the dust. And, on account of the two large neon green alien heads that were lit up at night – and also its location on the corner of 10ish and Binnekring Roads – Alienz could be seen from almost everywhere inside the Binnekring, making it an easily-found venue and also a great navigation beacon.

In the absence of Alienz Coffee Shop, our operational team and a cluster of community members identified a need to fill the location at the point of 10ish Road with an active social meeting space, whilst also thinking about making Off-Centre Camp Stage a more active space, which is how the idea of renaming and revamping OCC’s stage came about.

What is Chillaz?

From 2020, it will be a space that houses a stage, a free tea & coffee station, and also function as a destination that’s both a navigation beacon by day & night and also a social meeting space. The stage itself will operate for a longer period than in the past, with open mic sessions and live performance during the day, with chilled music played during the evening. The live performance roster will be managed by the Bandless crew, who have become the de facto ‘house band’ at OCC over the last few years.


What will it look like?

Ah – here’s where it gets exciting. Over the past two months, members of DPW and our Operations team have been busy at our offices, planning and designing the various elements that will come together to create the new frontage of Chillaz. The frontage elements have been designed by our Resource Manager, Jano January, to incorporate 7 entrance portals, opening up the space to invite people in from many directions. Between each portal will be double-sided benches that will enable you to sit facing out into the Binnekring, or looking inward towards the stage.

The 7 portals will surround a central area that will be shaded, and also feature a fire barrel, creating a warm space at night and a chill space during the day – all adding up to an expanded social space and making Chillaz a multi-purpose space where everyone’s invited to hang out.

Shout out to Lebo, Jano, Luke and Shannon (pictured below) for driving the planning & design sessions!


Once the designs were final, work began in the yard of our HQ, with Sham, Lebo, Jano and Soulitude chopping and cutting the many pieces of the wooden infrastructure that will form the new exterior surround of the Chillaz tent (which houses the stage).


How can you get involved?

As always, the stage is wide open to you and the activities that you’d like to bring to the mix. Live performance, acoustic music, workshops and discussions, kid’s activities, spoken word, costume shows and more – Chillaz is there for you, and that thing you want to do.

Free Coffee & Tea? How does that work?

It’s pretty simple – just like in your own home, you walk up to the counter, and make yourself a cup of your hot beverage of choice. Yes, seriously. No, there won’t be a barista – but there will be coffee, tea sugar and milk available – and a request: if you or your campmates have overstocked on any of the essential ingredients that make up coffee or tea, feel free to gift them to the coffee station: we’d welcome gifted contributions to make sure the stocks are varied (and it’s a great way to give perfect strangers a gift that you know they’ll love). Oh – and don’t forget to bring your own cup for your cuppa!

Want more info?

Our team has set up a Chillaz group on Facebook – check in there to see the progress already being made on various

Get involved!

We’re wide open to anyone who wants to offer their time to help us make Chillaz an amazing community hub – got ideas? We wanna hear them: mail our crew on [email protected]

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