Sunday, May 26, 2024

Why do popular Nairobi nightclubs always die after a few years?

Co-Op post

What does a Nairobi nightclub and a packet of milk have in common? If both stay around for a while, people will no longer want to drink what is inside them.

The other day, I was listening to Otile Brown and Mejja’s song ‘Watoto Na Pombe” and something caught my ear. In the song’s outro, Otile gives a shoutout to several nightclubs. He goes, “Whiskey River na Kiza… B-Club, Golden Ice… Ornyx na Tapas… Platnum 7D.”

The song was released in 2020, and out of the five Nairobi nightclubs he mentioned, only Ornyx is still running. Whiskey River, Kiza, Golden Ice Bistro, and B-Club are all as dead as the man who once tried to overthrow Vladimir Putin. Tapas (Mombasa) is still open, and so is Platnum 7D (Nakuru).

This got me thinking. Why do Nairobi nightclubs always shut down at some point? If I were a loaded entrepreneur, I would never want to put my money into the nightlife business… at least not here in the big city. Other towns rarely have this expiration problem. Platinum 7D has been around for years, and my favorite Eldoret club (Tamasha) is still as robust as ever. 

Is there too much competition in Nairobi? Or do Nairobi people move on from their favorite joints as quickly as they move on from relationships? The list of nightclubs that shut down is way longer than an ancient scroll. There is 1824, Zipang, Casa Vera, Tribeka, Avery Lounge, and many more. I’m sure that people who began partying in the 2000s can name a dozen more dead nightlife spots.

Out of all these extinctions, the closure of Golden Ice Bistro (once located at Nextgen Mall) is what hurt me the most. That club had women so hot you would find yourself asking the waitresses for water every 15 minutes. And the waitresses themselves? Holy Bernice Burgos! They wore tu-shiny black dresses and they all looked like they had been picked from the Miss Universe nominee list. 

The place was rarely overcrowded either, and the overall design was stunning. The washrooms were so clean you would have been tempted to eat inside them. While going to relieve yourself, you had to climb a golden-like staircase (a design that Embassy Bistro and a few other clubs have copied). You felt as if you were going to pee honey and Jugo de Caña. 

I remember Golden Ice Bistro was my first stop the week the mother of my child and I broke up for the final time. We had been on-and-off several times but this was now IT IT. No going back. No Marcha Atrás.

I was eager to get over my sorrows, so, on that night, I made a double bet. I invited two classy ladies whom I had just met on Tinder. None of them knew the other was coming. I know how it looks but stop judging me. Kwani your name is Judge Grace Nzioka? In my mind I was like, “Penye itaingiana, wacha iingiane.” I remember my pal Chris looking at me like I was crazy. He couldn’t help but wonder what I was trying to pull off, and I knew he was secretly wishing one of them would splash my face with drinks. Thankfully, things played out the way I expected. One got jealous/angry (I am really not sure of the exact emotion you felt but I’m sorry Maureen), so she left. The other lady, Sylvia, went home with me.

Maureen ranted about me on her Whatsapp stories the next day, claiming how men were trash and how this gender of ours belonged in the same bin as used diapers and leftover ugali. She also concluded by writing in capital letters, “PHILIP ETEMESI! YOU ARE THE BIGGEST TRASH OF THEM ALL.” After that nilikula block.

Once again…sorry Maureen, but a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.

Such was one of many fun nights at Golden Ice Bistro. I remember having a date with the sister of a popular Kenyan artiste there and also partying with my landlady’s summer bunny son. Interestingly, he said the club matched what he had seen in Atlanta.

I wonder what caused the club to deteriorate and shut down within a year. Perhaps the owner could tell us.

Elsewhere… almost everyone I know had a story about 1824. My close confidant, Mercy, once pepper-sprayed a cab driver who tried to take advantage of her after picking her outside the club. By the way, if you are a lady, try to get pepper spray to protect yourself. It’s sold even on Jumia. Many thirsty nincompoops out there have no clue how to seduce women, so you ought to be ready to defend yourself against them if the situation calls for it.

Anyway, Chris, who I mentioned earlier, had to fight some guys who were attacking his mzungu friend in the same nightclub. Apparently, the mzungu had attempted to woo a lady who was with another guy and it was all chaos from there. The guy grabbed the mzungu’s hand, feigning a sign of peace, before squeezing it hard while roaring “Huku sio kwenu bana! Nitakugonga!” After that, the mzungu threw a punch then what followed was a Kenyan version of UFC Fight Night.  

I hear 1824 is about to reopen under another brand name, and I guess that’s good news for the fans. It was never one of my favorites.

I, personally, didn’t shed a tear when Whiskey River was closed either because a group of men once tried to rob me inside the club, I was heading to the washroom when, all of a sudden, someone pulled me from behind. Several men then surrounded me, claiming I had pushed one of them. Interestingly, no one could even tell what was going on because the place was too crowded. I tried explaining myself, but they didn’t want to listen to me. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. They were those hard-boiled types of guys… the kind that showed up during Andrew Kibe’s sitdown with Mike Sonko. Within no time, their hands were in my pockets, searching for valuables. 

Thankfully, I caught a lucky break when a patrolling bouncer showed up and I signalled for help. Surprisingly, the men were allowed to stay, so I just left the club and never went back.

My nightclub stories can fill a book, so maybe one day I will write such a party memoir. Right now, the question remains on my mind: Why do Nairobi nightclubs keep on collapsing?

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