Dancing in the Dark

Alexandra Szotka
March 12, 2014

Yesterday I witnessed my first South African load-share. Basically this is when the government schedules planned power outages in different neighborhoods in order to save electricity. This is because their current electrical grid cannot support all of the activity that goes on. Apparently a couple of years ago this used to go on everyday, but then when people started conserving energy and becoming more environmentally friendly, they reduced how often these planned outages would go into effect.

The whole crew, minus Delise taking the photo

Happy Happy!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware that this was planned, and walking back from class at about 1 in the afternoon, I wondered why our gate wouldn’t buzz open. I dismissed the thought, and just assumed that it had to do with our always hectic and broken apartment complex. After I got to my room, and texted my RA, I realized that indeed it wasn’t just a Dunvegan Gardens issue, but all of Cape Town had these scheduled outages during the day. While I prayed that my computer wouldn’t die before I finished my homework, I also realized that I wouldn’t be able to skype my friend, Michelle.  But because we had no electiricity, we also had no wifi and no way of contacting her. About 2 hours later the power came back on, and I rejoiced that our food would not all go bad.


The Alley where it all went down!

I went to my African dance class where I felt like I am actually really improving and I was happy happy happy. However, on the way back from class I received an email that my UCT choir practice would be cancelled because of yet ANOTHER load share that was scheduled to take place from 8-10pm or in South African military time 20h to 22h. I was sooo happy that choir was cancelled just because it had been such a long day and I was so full of energy from my active endorphins. I got back to my flat with a bunch of fellow IES friends and just as we got into our rooms, the power immediately went out. Now this is when some crazy stuff started to happen. One of my flatmates, Kayla, had planned to go bowling with a friend of hers and some of his friends and she wanted a bunch of IES people to come along. With the power outage going on, it was kind of impossible to shower and look in the mirror, so I basically gave up and realized that I would be going to bowl with my hair greasy and all sweaty after dance. Luckily, there were no street lights, or power anywhere so I thought I would be in the clear. As we were trying to negotiate our way down the stairs we realized that we had another big problem…. All the locks that we have to get into or leave the apartment are run through electricity. We were horrified that we were literally locked into our flat complex. Luckily we followed the scuttling footsteps we heard around the corner and came to a door that was actually unlocked.  We fled the premise and luckily stumbled into our apartment mate Delise. We conned her into coming out with us, and then we roamed the uncomfortably dark streets, until we met up with Kayla’s friend Vincent and his friends. From there we negotiated a price with a sketchy cab driver and fortunately we got dropped off at the bowling alley for really cheap.


The cool kids sitting next to us

Probably another strike for Delise….


And then a real, “adult” picture.

The bowling alley was very similar to the ones in the U.S, except that this one sold alcohol. At first I was optimistic that the food would be actually good too, but to my disappointment my friend Lily recieved a burnt burger and my spinach and feta sandwich had expired a good two weeks back. Even the vending machine didn’t work, and an employee had to manually open up the machine and take the money so that we could get a Kit Kat (Thank God that at least these tasted just as delicious). After attempting to eat, some of our party got pretty competitive with the bowling. I, on the other hand came in dead last because of my unfortunate magnetic pull to the gutter. One guy named Big Mike, actually was so aggressive with the bowling ball, that he ended up bouncing the ball down the lane. If I am being honest, I legitimately thought I was going to beat him…. But somehow Mike shaped up.We also had the best time because Vincent kept this video going of us that last the whole hour of the game, featuring commentary on the whole event. After one strike, one of Vincent’s friends said “I would like to thank my Mom and my Dad….” Even things that weren’t super funny just seemed so much more enjoyable during our game. Even the drag queens that sat next to us were having a great time. After our game was finished, we all split up and met to go out with different people. I was excited because the three girls I ended up hanging out with planned to go to “Boogies” which is an 80’s themed club. However, once we got to the door, we found out that the bouncer doesn’t take passports or notarized copies of ID’s as an actual form of ID. We were sad, but realized it was probably better to go home and get some sleep in our extremely dark flats. We were so hyped up by this time that we danced our way over to the cab terminal, and from there took a cab home. When we got back the power was back on, and all was well with the world.

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Alexandra Szotka

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Alexa is a sophomore at Ithaca College studying both Public Health and Politics, while also hoping to dapple in her new found interest in gender studies. She grew up in Windsor, Connecticut, famous for being the first town in Connecticut. When Alexa doesn&#39;t have her nose in a book, she can be found singing, eating (especially anything pumpkin), being sarcastic or exploring the fantastic world that we are lucky enough to call home. Studying in Cape Town in a dream come true, and Alexa is ready and willing to soak up every last bit of adventure that comes her way!</span></p>

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