2001 Photo Contest, Arts and Entertainment, 1st prize

T.J. Lemon

The Sunday Independent

01 January, 2000

Every Saturday night, 'swankas' gather at Jeppe Hostel in downtown Johannesburg. They compete in a style contest for a prize that is a portion of pooled entrance fees. Smart suits, hats, and handkerchiefs in breast pockets are very much part of the image. Competitors are also judged on the moves and turns of their performance. A snappy American style was popular among black South Africans when the competitions began in the 1950s, and still characterizes swanka culture. Although they are poorly paid workers, swankas may invest in a number of expensive suits and shoes. Accessories, such as lapel brooches and tie-pins, are important, as are things that match: tie, socks and handkerchief. After the show, swankas don dustcoats and leave for the next venue.

About the photographer

T.J. Lemon

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