So I have this one friend who is eeerm…a little rough around the edges. I mean he sounds like an industrial strength drain whenever he takes a sip of his coffee, and for some reason, he can never speak without gesticulating wildly and jabbing at everything with his forefinger.
But everyone has a purpose in my life, and he is my go-to guy when I need a reality check from all the shiny happy people. (And some burning hot pepper soup with cous cous…)
So one saturday night, when I could not stomach the idea of spending all night in my little matchbox room tweevsdropping into the wee hours of the morning, I decided to call him. You know, go for a drink or something.
Shortly, we were off looking for a plan. Sidenote: foreigners have a problem when they are in a foreign place. There is only so much of the town that they know, and all their friends are just as clueless as they are, so they all have a good time moaning about how small the city is: missing out, of course, on all the best kept secrets. (In Kenya, you can see it when tourists make friends with waiters and cab guys because no one else will let them into their tight little circle of friends.)
Not so with Country boy. Soon we were careening down the high way, skidding around corners and nearly knocking over pedestrians- the guy drives like a raging lunatic, and usually I say the Hail Mary, just in case. Eventually we crashed to a stop in a straaange part of the city (Kind of like South B), at a club called Le Nirvana.
Now, as we got to the entrance, I had a very very bad feeling about the whole thing. Clubs find it hysterically funny to let people freeze outside, letting in only a few at a time because the palce is ‘full’. It’s an idiotic way of creating anticipation and encouraging frost bite.
Obviously, there was a huge crowd of black guys outside the club, and typically, they were all arguing with the mountain of flesh that was the bouncer. Having gone to the school of Nairobi night life, I know to keep a distance from monster sized, alcohol fuelled, aggressive men. But Country boy was dead set on getting in, so we persevered, and just before hypothermia set in, we were granted the golden ticket.
I knew immediately that I would not regret it. (That, and the fact that I had never seen so many beautiful men in my life. Seriously, Africa’s finest all ran off to Europe.) I have spoken of this breed of men previously, and seeing them in the flesh, decked out in their leather jackets, my mind was made up instantly. I had to be in the presence of such finery.
Who cares that most of them had frozen, popsicle sized, underaged, barely dressed nymphs draped on their arms.
The club was full of Africans, and of course the usual gaggle of awkward looking, buck toothed
euro-trash girls who find salvation in giant West Africans looking for permanent residency.
And the place had an uncanny resemblance to any club in Westy. Booming, booty shaking, dirty whining club anthems. None of that mind numbing dj junk music that Europeans shimmy seductively to.
I’m talking about the full skank mode- white thigh length boots, cleavage bursting from eye poppingly tight mini dresses, the leering guy too old to be in a club salivating and nearly bursting a vein in the corner, drunk guys shouting and fighting in the bathroom…it felt just like home.
Which brought me to my first realization: they say that you only learn about your culture once you are removed from it. And for sure, clubbing here can be a strange affair. I mean, I never said that I was the dance floor queen, but when surrounded by bobbing blondes jumping around and gyrating to Infinityesque music (If you ever watched MTV/any american movie/series/music video) you know what I’m talking about, well, when your moves from the motherland seem kind of…vulgar.
But here, there was none of that. Them West African babes let it all hang. I was happy, just watching. I mean, they were doing the freakn ndombolo in hot pants and heels…and many, many vigorous variations of the legendary Bendover.
I have a knack for attracting the weirdos. When they smell me, they crawl out of their little holes and make a beeline straight for me. What can I say…
Of course, one of Country boy’s friend just happened to be there, and caught us just as I was mournfully starting on my horribly overpriced, lemon flavoured beer. (Yes, it is a crime against beers world wide) And invited us to his table, where his girlfriend was seated.
Girlfriend, of course, was a classical cross breed of two very unique species. One, she is a professional drunk. And I could tell immediately I sat down next to her. After the third whisky, these deceptive drunks have already lost significant motor control, weaving around and slurring, and yet they can outdrink Tucker Max, and in that seemingly inebriated state, get you home and make themselves a night cap.
Two, she is classical immigrant girlfriend material. (Use your imagination to figure out what she looks like.) And judging by the smug look on Country boy’s friend’s face, he clearly thought that he had hit the jackpot. (Different strokes, I guess)
Anyway, girlfriend seemed to like me, given that she was slobbering all over my cheeks and whispering gibberish in my ear all night. (Alot of it sounded like je t’aime, but I can’t be sure.)Then she bought me a bottle of Whisky and my night was made.
Given that I have the vocabulary of a five year old, deep conversation was definitely out. So I contented myself with looking around at the crowd. And you could not tell that it was minus degrees outside. No berets and sailor pants here…
All I can say is, I had a totally normal night in a place that I never expected. Like a little slice of home in the middle of nowhere. That’s what made it so remarkable. And disorienting.
I am in a strange place. Caught in between the gelled hair and skinny jeans, and the wild, wild West. Literally.