Nightclubs devise ways to dance around noise rules

Tuesday, December 6th, 2022 02:30 | By
City bars brace for fresh round of crackdown
People dancing at a nightclub. PHOTO/Courtesy

A video of revellers donning earphones while dancing to music at the Clarett Lounge in Roysambu, Nairobi has lifted the lid on the lengths bar owners are going to remain afloat following Governor Johnson Sakaja’s crackdown on noisy clubs in residential areas.

In the video which has gone viral, patrons wearing earphones are on their feet dancing.

People Daily established that several bars have resorted to issuing patrons with earphones to counter the order on noise pollution.

This followed the closure of several high-end nightclubs in Kilimani, Kileleshwa, and Lavington areas for flouting the order on loud music in residential areas.

Some establishments have resorted to closing latest at 10 pm.

“We do not want to cross the line and have our permits and licences withdrawn,” says the manager of a popular joint in Lavington.

“They have been here a couple of times and been very strict with us, not even trying to engage in a discussion. It has been tough lately,” he explained.

A report by Pubs Entertainment and Restaurants Association of Kenya (PERAK) revealed that over Sh1.6 billion and 23,000 jobs have been lost in the wake of City Hall’s decision to revoke licenses of nightclubs that operate outside the Central Business District.

Since the November 25 notice from the Governor’s office, other counties such as Mombasa have followed suit.

Sound metre

Club owners and revellers are, however, not giving up easily, and are devising ways to beat the county government’s directives.

A visit to night clubs along Ngong Road, including Onyx Lounge, Gemini at AdLife Plaza, Blackstars Lounge and even Vegas Lounge, established that they are only lowering the music by a few decibels, ranging between 50 to 70db, down from 80 to 100db, according to our sound metre.

Some clubs revealed how they are regularly tipped off about impending police raids through social media platforms.

“My local is Bar Next Door. It was one of the most targeted bars by the government due to a lot of complaints from residents. They went ahead and posted ‘Mapema Ndiyo Best’ and that meant they would be shutting down earlier than usual,” says a reveller.

However, after visiting the local bar in Kileleshwa, he was shocked to find the club at almost maximum capacity, with the music playing slightly lower than usual and the police nowhere to be seen.

“This government is worried about the wrong things,” a manager in a café in Lavington to People Daily.

Red flag

“We want to invest in soundproofing, which is really expensive. The government needs to understand the severity of the matter, and the number of livelihoods affected by such drastic decisions. They should be providing solutions, instead of creating more quagmire.”

Komplex Ke, a Kenyan Entertainment stable known for curating different experiences in clubs foresaw these issues when Kileleshwa MCA Robert Alai raised the red flag and has since crafted new partying solutions.

“Our first party was thrown in an airport hangar. For our New Year’s party, we will be hosting it at The Railways, and this weekend we intend to do something at The National Museum. It’s all about creativity and decentralising from the norm,” one of the company’s executives told us.

World Cup

The politicisation of noise and clubbing in Nairobi is not new, and many have had mixed reviews of Sakaja’s orders.

“From now on, no nightclub licenses will be issued or renewed for premises operating within the residential areas,” Sakaja said.

Added Alai: “We are giving the family peace in residential areas. No more noise, open prostitution, and drug dealing in residential areas.”

Clubs such as Oyster Bay and Moov Café, despite being fully compliant, have not been spared, forcing them to resort to day parties.

“It’s Litcember for many, Drinkscember for some. The World Cup is on. People need clubs to be their escape from their busy schedules. So with the Unkut Day Party concept, this is what we intend to do,” says Ruby Vivienne, an event organizer at Unkut Events.

From day parties, silent discos, soundproofing clubs, venue relocations, and non-posting on social media, event owners and bar managers are hard at work labouring to find the next footing for clubs outside the Central Business District areas.

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