September 14th, 2010 by Daryl Glass
If you’re into the social and cultural scene in Cape Town, you might have bumped into Dax Villanueva, the extremely good looking gentleman socialite who breezes in and out of events like a rolling stone.
His website “Relax with Dax” is the platform where social adventures and event newsletters are shared, where the latest and greatest restaurants, pubs, bars and clubs, as well as festivals and shows, are rated. You can also catch up to the minute commentary and restaurant musings on his Twitter feed, where his following boasts something more than a hefty handful. The difference between Dax Villanueva and the average tweeter/blogger, is that people want to hear what Dax has to say. His comments are punchy, powerful and accurate and he seems to have the ability to pinpoint both the lowlights and highlights of a scene within minutes.
According to Dax, when it comes to rating a place or event, there are no rules:
“I don’t take a notepad to venues because I don’t want them to know I am watching their every move. I believe that it’s the overall dining experience that counts, I might be prepared to put up with a weak wine list or average service if the venue has other redeeming qualities like a really attractive hostess. For these reasons my reviews are short and powerful, giving an overall impression of the place and mentioning good and bad aspects that stand out”.
Bearing this in mind, I decided to pick Dax’s brain, about how exactly he does what he does, and with such effervescence.
You are Dax, you’re everywhere. How would you describe your role in the Cape Town social scene?
I like to think that I save other people from having to eat at bad restaurants and attend below average events and shows. I do this by reviewing them and pointing out the good and bad points so that people can make an informed choice. For some people I keep them informed on what is happening because they can’t be there themselves for whatever reason.
How would you describe social media to your 6 year old cousin?
These days your 6 year old cousin is usually the one explaining social media to you! Explaining it to my mother would be another story. Social media is many different things to many different people. For businesses it is an opportunity to create a personality and connect with customers and potential customers. For people, it’s an opportunity to acquire useful information from others without having to worry that it is biased (entirely). I could write five pages about what social media is.
If you could host a dinner where you can invite any five people, alive or dead, who would they be?
Bill Gates: I’ve been in IT for many years and have always respected what he has achieved. I am also impressed by his plan to give away most of his enormous wealth. I want to explain to him that forcing GM foods on poor countries is not a good thing.
Michael Jackson because I want him to teach me how to moonwalk
Scarlett Johansson because she is quite attractive
Derren Brown because I need to know how he does those tricks (if you don’t know who he is, search for him on Youtube and you’ll be blown away)
George Bush so that I can punch him in the face
With so many online articles, news stories, job listings and advertising, would you say print media is on its way out?
The landscape is changing and it’s not easy to say where it will end up. Print media will exist, for many years to come. But anything that is printed must be online as well. How to derive revenue from online content is a great challenge which must be addressed.
How much time do you spend at your computer? Is it on par to the amount of time you venture out to hotspots?
I’m probably on my computer about 10 hours a day, which is more time than I am out enjoying Cape Town.
In your opinion should one have a personal a business profile or one collective account?
Again, this will depend on the scenario. I have advised some clients one way and others another. If it is a larger organisation, the person attending to social media may change over time so it doesn’t make sense to make it personal. If you have a small business and you have a personal relationship with your clients, then combine them, but be careful about making it too personal because you will lose the followers who are interested in the business rather than you.
How is it that you manage to be super social and at the same time run an incredibly content filled website? How do you do it?
It is as difficult as you think it is. I work for myself so that helps as I can juggle my schedule to address priorities. But there is always something that needs to be done, I don’t get to rest ever.
Wow, you are nearing 2000 followers on Twitter…what would you say is key in creating online interest?
How do I get more followers is a common question. It’s not an instant thing and people struggle to accept when it comes to followers that it’s quality not quantity. There are tricks to getting more followers but they are not followers who are genuinely interested in your feed so you might as well not have them. Offering a consistent, useful feed will slowly attract an audience.
Here are some tips:
- Engage with the community, retweet others and talk to others so they will follow and/or retweet you
- Find people to follow who have the same interests, they will generally follow you back
- Find the balance between content and volume. The more you tweet the more followers you get but only if your content is good
- Link your social media channels, make sure people who visit your website can click somewhere to follow you on Twitter and like your fan page.
What can we find in your fridge?
Plenty of white wine and some real beer. I don’t get to eat at home a lot so my fridge is not well stocked.
Your job is a million miles from boring. Does it have any downsides?
Yes, I’m busy all the time and this affects my life in various ways. It’s hard to keep to an exercise schedule, it’s hard on a relationship as you don’t get much alone time and it’s tiring.
What is your pet peeve?
Bottled water, especially if it is imported. This is really bad for the environment and the water companies have done a brilliant job of conning us into drinking it and paying for it. It must stop! I’ve started a Facebook group called ‘Say no to Bottled Water’ where people can learn about this scourge and hopefully at some point we will mobilise.
Your favourite quote?
I have a few:
The grass is greener where you water it (for all those people trying to decide whether to go overseas or not, or which job to choose, just make up your mind and whichever way you go it will work out)
I’m easily pleased, but difficult to impress (my philosophy on reviewing restaurants)
No pain, no pain (my gym mantra!)
Ok, after covering far and beyond the Cape, what would you say is your favourite:
Place to eat – I have a lot of favourites, it depends on the occasion, my mood and who’s paying. I’ve been enjoying Bistro 1682 on Steenberg estate quite a lot, the food is a treat and the venue is great.
Cocktail bar – Again, this will depend on the occasion and the company. I really like the Vista bar at the One & Only hotel. Valet parking, beautiful bar, good cocktails which are not too expensive. Plus they have top DJs laying down some beats until quite late every night.
Deli – I like Oded’s Kitchen at the Biscuit Mill in Salt River. A great selection of items, all made with love.
Theatre – I love big stage productions, so always look forward to the Artscape, but for smaller productions I’ve been enjoying the new On Broadway in Long Street.
Food Event/Exhibition – Taste of Cape Town. It is quite expensive, but it’s great for trying all sorts of tasty dishes.
Wine Show – I went to the Cape Winemakers Guild tasting for the first time this year and I really enjoyed it. Not too crowded, good quality wines and the actual wine makers are in attendance.
I’m on my way to becoming a socialite of sorts, I go to events like you do, I enjoy good wine and just adore the countless places Cape Town has to offer. I’m also the one encouraging friends to go out dancing or dining; because if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that nothing exciting or life altering can happen to you if you stay in. I’m nominating you as my mentor! Any words of advice or wisdom you can share to start me off?
A person only has a certain amount of energy, so I’ve learnt to become discerning about which events I attend. There is always something on offer in Cape Town and many people suffer from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) so they try and do everything. This means that you can’t enjoy the event properly and get the most out of it because you’re either too tired or you’re rushing off somewhere else. This will also lead to burnout eventually. Rather take it slow and enjoy everything as much as possible.
Thank you, Sir Dax, it has been a great honour chatting to you…I’m sure we will bump into you out and about! For more from Dax, visit his twitter feed and website. Nothing left to do but go forth and Carpe Cape Town!
This post was originally written by Sanja Stanojevic who has since left Power of 9.
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