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Revellers now take parties to local joints

By Chebet Korir
Friday, November 8th, 2019
A party scene at Tamasha in Hurligham.
A party scene at Tamasha in Hurligham.

As Nairobi’s club scene continues with its metamorphosis, there is a huge percentage of patrons that still enjoy a night out in their neighbourhood entertainment joints. CHEBET KORIR looks at the current trends that has sent revellers patroning the locals 

The weekend is here and fun seekers are in the mood to indulge a bit. The plan could be wind up with work and have a drink at your favourite drinking spot. However, for many party lovers of today, the idea of drinking at the comfort of their homes or anywhere close to home carries the day. If they can’t go savour the drinks at home, they have the option of quaffing in their neighbourhood joints popularly known as ‘locals’. The so-called locals can be a pub that is close to your home or a joint that you frequent regularly.

With this on mind, club owners have perfected the craft of bringing the joints into life by employing a few tactics to have patrons bolted. They are using theme nights, drink and food offers, mini-concerts and social media marketing, among others, as a way to retain the existing customers or attract new ones. 

In the Eastlands area of Nairobi, for example, estates such as Umoja and Buruburu are recognised for some of their oldest locals. Buruburu has clubs such as Tents and Kagina’s that attract a much older crowd while Taurus Lounge and Wings are favourites with the younger generation. 

Umoja hosts popular local joints such as Hornbill, Harry’s Tavern and Egesa. Harry’s Tavern is located along the Manyanja-Spine Road and has been in existence for more than 10 years now. Nothing fancy about its interior décor, but walk in at any day and time of the week and you will be surprised how revellers have already paired themselves in groups enjoying their drinks. You see, the establishment has four counters and a special place for smokers known as Muliro Gardens. More so, it’s a 24/7-food den.

What ticks

The club manager Sylvanos Onami says many of their customers feel at home because of the club’s conducive environment. “Right from the bouncer to the waitress, everything works so harmoniously. Many of the staff members have been working here for more than nine years. We hire permanently and we get to train them to be friendly and be disciplined in this environment. And this is some of the things that have helped us retain customers,” he tells Spice.

Egesa Villa off Moi Drive is also a popular neighbourhood club within Umoja Estate. Its difference from the rest is that in most cases, it especially hosts musicians from the Nyanza region for concerts. Abel Onyango frequents the establishment and he says he always feels comfortable while at Egesa. “It’s never a dull day. The fact that we have artistes visiting daily makes it even more enjoyable and lively,” says Onyango.

Nairobi West was and still is, Nairobi’s drinking hub. It is home to joints such as Lazino’s (known for rhumba music) and Vibro. Jeans Bar was one of the most popular around this area, but it closed shop a while ago.

Across town

In Hurlingham, Tamasha is one of the oldest clubs. Tamasha has always been the go-to place for the locals and others who prefer good music. Also, it hosts diehard fans of sports such as Formula One, who have a special place in the club and get special offers on drinks and food.

Brent Muema is a Formula One lover and a recognised patron at Tamasha. He says it is the only place one can enjoy the races, mature reggae and oldskool music.

“As a great fan of Formula One, I believe there are not many neighbourhood clubs that consider showing the game live and additionally have fans come and watch the games. Also, the fact that music gets better day by day adds to the thrill of frequenting this place,” he says. Blackyz Lounge, on the other hand, is relatively new in Hurligham, but it is a huge crowd puller. According to its marketing and entertainment manager Anthony Baleti, the lounge has maintained hundreds of loyal clients for more than three years.

“I have interacted with many people who have visited the establishment and I can easily say that we have more than a hundred loyal patrons who come on a daily or weekly basis. The fact that we have also embraced theme nights that both attract the young and old has made the club become a favourite neighbourhood joint for many people,” he says, adding the culture of having popular deejays spin at the club has also played a big role in ensuring the numbers keep on swelling.

The most radical

For a club such as Country Muthiga Inn along Waiyaki Way, it has maintained their in-house reggae deejay for years, which has helped it remain relevant within the hood.

 “It’s all about understanding your crowd and what they like. That way they become loyal customers that will always be available whenever I am playing,” says Deejay Natty Boy, the resident deejay. But according to the Nairobi City County Alcoholic Drinks and Licensing Board, it doesn’t issue licenses to clubs to operate within the estates.

“I believe the issue of licensing of clubs within the estate was done by the previous board and I cannot say much about it. However, when it comes to joints and wines and spirits outlets operating within 300 metres of any school, we automatically shut them down,” Sarah Ndung’u, the board’s communication director, tells Spice.