Qc’s Pieter Rossouw

After four years and 55 events, party impresario Pieter Rossouw has decided to bring the Qc journey to an end. “It’s time to let the old girl go,” says Rossouw wistfully. “There’s very little one can do to reinvent the brand.”

Rossouw’s monthly Qc parties will perhaps be best remembered for taking the gay clubbing scene out of the Joburg city centre and excising its largely underground sensibility in an attempt to offer a more sophisticated option for partygoers.

It’s since undoubtedly become one of the longest-lasting and best-known gay party brands in South Africa.

The first Qc bash, in June 2006, was held at the city’s most upmarket nightclub, Taboo, and went on to travel to various venues in posh Sandton and other northern suburbs in the city. Most of these clubs were straight venues that had never before seen a gay audience. And, instead of the usual t-shirts and trainers, dress shirts and smart shoes were de rigueur.

While many saw it as a breath of fresh air and a positive move towards the mainstream, others scoffed at the parties and the sometimes affected crowd that they attracted. “Some people accuse Qc of being pretentious. Well, if dressing up and making an effort is pretentious then that’s what it was,” asserts Rossouw.

Ironically, he aknowledges that the gay clubbing scene has now become overly commercialised and has lost its edge. “It’s all bubblegum music now. Gay clubs used to be hedonistic and trend-setting. It’s where new music was heard first. We’ve lost that, and the younger generation has never been exposed to that.”

The gradual but ongoing decrease in numbers at the last few Qc parties can’t be ignored, but Rossouw says that the events have nevertheless remained profitable. He admits however, that he’s somewhat tired of trying to come up with something new every month.

“It’s difficult to get people to dress up – and they always did for the White Ball…”

He says that he will instead focus on three or so stand-alone events during the year that will allow him to plan bigger and more spectacular parties. Each will have their own individual identity – along the lines of the highly successful annual Fireman’s Ball; a spin-off of the Qc parties (and one that will continue). He mentions that his first new bash will most likely happen in June, but won’t divulge any details.

When asked which were his most memorable Qc parties, Rossouw takes a while to respond. “I think the Mamba Sexiest Man party at Taboo [in 2006]… It was the biggest at the time and first time we used bigger name DJs.” He also mentions the annual Qc White Ball with a smile: “It’s difficult to get people to dress up – and they always did for the White Ball.”

And low points? “I think it was the other spinoffs that didn’t take off. Like the Sunday afternoon events at FTV and the live shows at Ami.”

The Qc White Ball in 2007.

Asked if he would ever consider opening a club, Rossouw shakes his head. “It’s a huge investment. And the liquor laws have changed. It’s so difficult to get a liquor license now – up to six to eight months. And you must be operational during that time to get it.

“Plus, events are where my head has always been at. The daily operation of a club can be a grind, to be honest,” he adds.

The final Qc party on Monday 26 April will feature a one-on-one “duel” between DJs Morne and Stuart Hillary. “Over the years they have stood out and have kind of been our residents,” he explains.

It promises to be nostalgic event for Rossouw – and for many partygoers. “A lot of people had good times at the parties. Some met their boyfriends at Qc. It affected a lot of people over the years. There are memories…” he says.

The final Qc party takes place on Monday 26 April (Tuesday is a public holiday) at Latinova, Rosebank. Go to the Facebook page for more info.

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