Our destination that sunny January morning is the Kenilworth Racecourse. None of us has an inkling of what to expect as our bus journeyed through the streets of Cape Town. “We have to leave the hotel early tomorrow morning,” Henry Booysen, our tour guide, had told us the night before. But we couldn’t leave early enough due to a delay caused by some members of the group.
Eventually, the bus departed the hotel at a few minutes past ten and by the time we arrive Kenilworth the car parks were full. On one of the walk ways, a couple of young girls held a banner each advertising empty parking spaces for 30 Rands per car. A more decent way of making money compared, I thought to myself, unlike our area boys back home.
As we alighted from the bus, women adorned in bourgeois dresses, large hats, sunglasses and high heeled shoes walked past us and we all exchanged glances as we could not understand the connection between a horse racing event with such an elaborate mode of dressing. The arena has more in stock for us as we walked through the gates. After all security checks, we came face-to-face with men and women dressed in all manner of massive outfits and oversized accessories. It seems, nearly everyone dressed with the Larger than life theme of the event in mind. It was the 34th edition of the J&B Met, South Africa’s largest outdoor social.
It is a gathering of party starters who explore the thrill of what has become the J&B Met. The array of numbers displayed by the 50, 000 people who attended the J & B Met is a salute to the spontaneous, a tip of the hat to the unconventional, a bow to the bold, and a high five to the remarkable designs displayed by both men an women, young and old. Everyone is dressed to match their larger than life personalities in massive outfits, oversized accessories and gigantic sunglasses.
It took Carol Annabaim nearly a month before she decided on the attire she would wear to the horse racing. Three months before, she had booked for three different dresses from one of South Africa’s leading dressmakers. The creativity exuded by the designer in dresses left her confused on which one to choose. “It’s funny but it’s true,” she tells me. “I want the best out of the three. I had to try out each one. I didn’t settle for what I have on now until few days to the J & B Met.”
Like most ladies at the event, Annabaim look spectacular in her ready-to-wear dress swathed in perhaps the most elegant, glorious and fashionable creations of one of South Africa’s best designers.
It’s a proof that the country’s designers did a good job creating exquisites wears in line with the theme, Larger than life. I was told that prior to the race day, many designers had dedicated an entire clothing line to the J&B Met, turning one of the traditionally quietest retail fashion months, into a true bonanza.
Aside the individual glamour, the J&B Most Elegant Couple Competition is a firm favourite with the crowd who attended the event. And Candice Bowller and Brandon Resnick are well prepared for the competition. Decked in white safari suit, Resnik tells me they went out of their way to shop for the appropriate designer who made their pieces. Unfortunately, they didn’t win. Landerson Braga and Marianne Fonseca emerged the Most Elegant Couple.
“The hotly contested competition has grown enormously,” says one of the judges. It has been divided into a pre-judging competition where we selected the top sixteen. They were the party starting finalists who showcased their outfits on the main stage.”
The finals have become a massively important event on the fashion calendar in the country. They are judged by a distinguished panel, this time including Ryk Neethling, Mike Mol, Jo-Ann Strauss, Roxy Louw, Jeanne D and the YFM Twins Hlelo and Ntando Masina and Roland Jonathan from J&B.
The prizes match the event with holidays, gorgeous jewellery and Cavendish Square gift vouchers dominating the list. The Horse race event which will be held at the triple race-tracked Kenilworth Racecourse in Cape Town is going to feature ten top racing contests between sixteen of South Africa’s best breeds that are not younger than 3 years.
It shall be a worthwhile challenge against the three year standing champion River Jetez and her famous brother Pocket Power for a whooping USD 360,703.59 to the winner of the contest.
This is notwithstanding the loads of money making opportunities open to the spectators in the bet categories provided such as The Win Bet, The Place Bet, The Swinger Bet and The Exacta Bet for as low as USD0.87.
The J&B Most Elegant Couple Competition has become a firm favourite with the crowd and the media. This hotly contested competition has grown enormously and is now divided into a pre-judging competition which selects the top sixteen party starting finalists who showcase their outfits on the main stage.
In the fashion contest which is to be judged by a distinguished panel including dignitaries such as Ryk Neethling, Mike Mol, Jo-Ann Strauss, Roxy Louw, Jeanne D & the YFM Twins Hlelo, Ntando Masina and Roland Jonathan, their will be display of an array of beautiful and creative massive outfits, oversized accessories and large hairstyles adorning sixteen competing couples with gigantic personalities.
In turn, the winning couple will be granted a Seekers travel voucher worth USD3 607.04; a USD2 164.22 worth of L’Oreal Paris Cosmetics make-up, skin care and hair care product hamper and USD281 worth of stylish Police sunglasses each.
His and Her Gucci watches from Trigg Jewellers of Cavendish Square worth USD 1 082.11 each will be given to the second prize winners along with a USD1 442.81 worth of make-up, skin care and hair care product hamper courtesy L’Oreal Paris Cosmetics. A stylish pair of Police Sunglasses valued USD281 each would also be inclusive.
The third prize winners will earn a two USD721.41 gift vouchers for Him and Her from Cavendish Square, as well as L’Oreal Paris Cosmetics make-up, skin care and hair care product hamper to the value of USD360.70. The couple will also receive a stylish pair of Police sunglasses valued at USD281 each.
His and her massage vouchers to the value of USD64.93 each as well as L’Oreal Paris Cosmetic makeup, skin care and hair care product hamper to the value of USD360.70 will be packages for the fourth winner.
“The Best Themed Couple” will receive a two-night intimate Kruger Safari for the couple at Tinga Private Game Lodge inclusive of a luxury accommodation, all meals and game drives valued at USD4, 617.01 along with a stylish pair of Police Sunglasses valued at USD281 for each of the couple.
This year the J&B Met experience has been heightened with new and exciting hospitality options. The J&B Met Experience hospitality packages, offers prime position options for your company and guests.
The possibilities are endless from informal, chic picnic style experiences with open sided enclosures in a festive village atmosphere, to trackside lounges with self-service bars and food stations offering unparalleled access to top racing action.
For the ultimate private, corporate entertaining setting, the infield pavilions with their premium infrastructure and refined catering and bar services, provides guests with a total entertainment solution and unique rail-side viewing decks.
Aside the numerous pre- J&B Met parties that will take place outside Cape Town, the Larger than Life J&B Met will be marked by a series of After Parties at designated taverns throughout South Africa.
A portion of each ticket sold is earmarked to assist in funding the Kenilworth Conservation Area in the middle of the racecourse.