Skemerdans gives us the most endearing look at Cape Flats nightlife

A Cape Flats neo-noir murder mystery, SKEMERDANS is now available to binge on Showmax.

Skemerdans builds on the success of previous Showmax Originals like the SAFTA-winning Tali’s Wedding Diary, the SAFTA-nominated The Girl From St. Agnes, and this year’s critically-acclaimed series DAM and Tali’s Baby Diary

An organic, hyper-local mix of both Afrikaans and English, the half-hour series was filmed along Voortrekker Road and at Club Galaxy, Cape Town’s oldest club, which opened in Rylands in 1978. Galaxy is doubling as both The Oasis and the Adams brothers’ strip club, The Velvet Room. The whodunnit is set at the Oasis jazz club, the centre of a power struggle between two brothers, a scorned widow and an organised crime syndicate. 

Kevin Smith plays Glenn

“Skemerdans is about power struggles within a family, which is something that we all relate to,” says Smith. “It really unpacks what happens when a family is put under pressure in a crisis.”

Skemerdans revolves around the Fortune family, whose eldest son Glenn (SAFTA winner Kevin Smith from Isidingo and Arendsvlei) owns The Oasis with his wife, Shireen (SAFTA winner Ilse Klink from Stroomop and Isidingo).Other members of the Fortune family are played by SAFTA winner Brendon Daniels (Four CornersSara se GeheimArendsvlei); SAFTA nominee Vinette Ebrahim (7de Laan, Binnelanders); Carmen Maarman (ArendsvleiLui Maar Op, Belinda); rising star Trudy van Rooy (Die BylSara se Geheim); and Ceagan Arendse (Suidooster, Arendsvlei), who tragically passed away in February 2021. The first episode is dedicated to Arendse. 

Sanda Shandu

Fleur du Cap winners Sanda Shandu (The Kissing Booth 1 and 2) and Mbulelo Grootboom (Sara se Geheim, Projek Dina); Fleur du Cap nominee Ann Juries-May (Arendsvlei, Ander Mens); Danny Ross (Nommer 37ArendsvleiSuidooster); Kim Syster (BinnelandersSuidooster); and legendary Cape Town muso Alistair Izobell all feature prominently as staff at The Oasis. 2019 Comics Choice nominee Carl Weber also stars as one of the Adams brothers, mob bosses who are buying up the strip around The Oasis. Bongo Mbutuma (Die Spreeus,Erfsondes) plays his partner in crime and brother from another mother. 

Trudy van Rooyen

“This was the first time that I, as a coloured actress, was working with a virtually all-coloured cast in a professional setting, so this was absolutely amazing,” says van Rooy. “You haven’t seen us represented like this before on TV.”

Ilse Klink

Klink agrees. “Part of what attracted me toSkemerdans was it tells the story of coloured people of affluence. They’re not downtrodden; they’re not living on the breadline. This is a very important story to tell, where coloured people are not just seen as gangsters and other stereotypes.”

Amy Jephta

2019 Standard Bank Young Artist Amy Jephta (director of the award-winning upcoming feature Barakat and writer on Die Ellen Pakkies Storie and Trackers) is executive producer and showrunner, co-directing alongside Ephraim Gordon (producer of Barakat and director of Sara se Geheim and Suidooster). Nagvlug Films (RageMeisies Wat Fluit) is producing and the crew includes SAFTA winners like DOP Chris Lotz (JanThe Endless RiverRage) and costume designer Ayesha Khatieb (Die BoekklubFynskrif)

“Galaxy is one of the heritage places, as far as I’m concerned, with regards to Cape jazz,” says Ebrahim, who plays the Fortune family matriarch. “Anyone in my age group grew up with the Galaxy. If walls could talk, the Galaxy could probably throw out lots and lots of secrets. When we shot there, it felt weird being back. Even the smell of the place is the same. Anyone who went there as a regular would recognise which corner was which, and which table is which. So Skemerdans is going to bring back a lot of memories.” 

Amy’s brother, 2017 Standard Bank Young Artist winner Benjamin Jephta, scored the soundtrack, which also features nostalgic Cape Jazz classics guaranteed to take you back to your own time on the Galaxy dancefloor.

The edgy show has a 16 age restriction. “When I read the scripts, one of the first questions I asked was, ‘What time slot did you guys get?’ admits Daniels. “And then I heard Showmax and it all made sense.”

Skemerdans is shot in Cape Town but it’s a different angle. We don’t see the mountain or the sea in this entire show. So this is not the regular Cape Town; it’s what happens after dark,” says Klink. 

Binge Skemerdans first on Showmax: