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Thursday, August 30, 2012


I was out on Saturday at a club called Tribeca, since I came back home I have heard a lot about this club. There’s the seasonal nature of clubs in Nairobi that means there’s a hot new thing every few months or so, Sikiliza, Bandito’s… the list goes on and on with the only one standing the test of time being Carnivore and that may  be because of the restaurant attached to it. Anyway, Tribeca. I like the name because of where it comes from the original Tribeca in New York simply means the TRIangle BElow the Canal and I am a forever fan of acronyms.

I had sat downstairs where the music wasn’t too loud, where you were actually allowed to talk and a friend of mine admitted to me that he hates dancing. You see I agree with him, I don’t get dancing, not all night dancing anyway. Am of a certain age and temperament where my musical tastes don’t coincide much with those of the general going out populace. Most of the songs they know off heart will be new to me and this is ok when am drunk(I’ll dance to anything then) but when sober it’s almost impossible to get my body to respond to any of the combinations of beats and words and melody that make up music. However another great thing about Tribeca is that they will play old music, soul stirring, muscle moving, and bone bouncing music. Every once in a while a song will play that will make you want to stand up and just move. And respect has to be given to the musicians who make this kind of song. The party song, the club banger, they take a different kind of skill than the introspective, change-the-world or attempt-to-change-myself-music. All those songs about money, cash and hoe’s about party, flash and bro’s all the songs that adults will always bitch are spoiling the younger generation take a certain talent. They touch people in a place where people love to be touched, they are the ultimate escapism and when they come on a bubble encapsulates the whole of you. A song played and we were moved to go upstairs and boogie to it. When a whole crowd of people is dancing to the same song and they love it, they sing along to the lyrics and they are all transported to a place beyond where they are standing, when the music is  good enough or the dance so hypnotic or the high just right it’s almost like the wise man said “when two or more are gathered… there you will find God.”

Then the cd scratched.

This has not happened to me in living memory. I can’t remember that this happens in a club or that they use cds anymore. The music just stopped playing. Then there was silence. The dj tried another song and that didn’t work either. There was a point where I thought this was part of his shtick but after a few seconds I joined the crowd of people shouting at the dj. The masses were missing their opium and a revolution was about to happen. Ok not. The noises quieted down pretty soon. Conversation was stripped away from the club since upstairs is not really a place where they encourage talking, it gets in the way of drinking and other Saturday night like affairs. After a few more half-hearted attempts at shouting silence crept in.

Sometimes silence is all you need to really see what is happening around you. Self-consciousness soon returned to the people in the club, it existed before but when you are dancing you really have no idea who’s looking at you. Also, then you are only worried about the person you want to dance with and the fact that they are dancing does a little to allay your fears. You don’t think about the fact that almost nowhere else in our social experiences do we cramp ourselves into such a small space with strangers . We don’t share a religion or pursued academic goal, a friend or an office. The only thing you have in common with all those people around you is that you went out that night. That you almost all of you consumed alcohol that evening, that your senses of inhibition are a little lower than usual and that you are almost all much closer to giving in to greed and other lesser wants. And now the distraction that kept them all busy disappeared. The fact that bad things don’t happen every time you go out is one sign that trust in humanity can get rewarded. Or maybe the lack of music just gets so depressing it’s impossible to move anywhere.

When the dj finally got his system to amp he played this party don’t stop by camp mullah. I had to respect his judgement. A Kenyan song, a hugely recognisable Kenyan song, one that was about the opposite of what had just happened was apparently enough to make everyone forgive his transgressions.