Yeah, what the hell are we doing?
Haha, sundowners, of course.
Tourist in my own town, darling. Can you believe it's now possible to go for sundowners and snacks (R280 pp) at the top of Jozi's most infamous building, courtesy of Dlala Nje, a community organisation who are promoting Ponte Love - love and kisses for the now cleaned-up refurbished Ponte City.
We're not feeling the love so much as we Uber it in to Hillbrow past the shivering nyope addicts and whippet-thin prostitutes, but once we're inside the gate and grounds of Ponte City, it feels pretty friendly. There are ten of us and we all take selfies with the tower in the background. Then Steve the guide from Dlala Nje, meets us at reception and he nannies us through the Taking the Lift part which is most surreal.
But oh my, when we get out at the 51st floor and step into Dlala Nje 5101, this is what awaits. A shebeen chic venue with simple charming decor and the most befok views of Jozi at sunset. Never mind the lovely bar which we fall upon with great glee and starting frantically drinking and chatting and taking pics and exchanging weird stories about Ponte.
My friend Sally said she'd driven past Ponte every day for the past 25 years and couldn't believe she was actually at the top now. One of the guys in the group said he'd shagged someone who lived in Ponte when he was young. Phil confessed he'd visited when it was real dodgy. When I was a teenage delinquent I once visited a guy in Ponte and we saw a druggie throw a puppy over the edge into the pit.
It's gritty, but it's pretty. And impossible not to get high on the views and the vibe at Dlala Nje 5101. We eat and drink and get festive. Steve give us the lowdown on Ponte - it was built in 1975 by German architects Manfred Hermer and Rodney Grosskopff, it's 173m high. In its day in the 70s it was the height of sophisticated apartment living and Hillbrow was known as Manhattan in the veld. Then when the city collapsed in the 90s it fell into despair and dereliction and became a bizarre slum filled with poor people, immigrants, gangsters and crazy fucks.
"The reality of Ponte and its many fictions", writes Subotsky, "have always integrated seamlessly into a patchwork of myths and projections that reveal as much about the psyche of the city as it does about the building itself".
When it's time, Steve takes us down again, and now, the Taking the Lift part is fine because we're all drunk and supercharged on views and stories. The final dramatic touch is a visit to the infamous pit at the bottom of Ponte, which has been completely cleaned up. We all ooh and aah about what must have been unearthed in the four-storey high trash pile - skeletons, fridges, television sets, pots and pans, beds... I think of the poor puppy.
We stagger out to our Uber trying to feel the Ponte Love and definitely feeling the weirdness of having been inside and up to the top of the city's most peculiar building.
Would I do it again?
Yes, probably, but you'd have to come with me.
For more information on the tour check out Dlala Nje on Facebook