A night out in Dar es Salaam thrills and shocks in equal measureBy MACHARIA GAITHO | Friday, October 15 2010 at 10:21
I’ll never understand this place. I walk into the San Cirro on a Thursday night and have to pay the princely sum of TSh5,000 (about $4) at the door. I decline a suggestion from the guy at the box office that I get into the VIP section at TSh10,000 ($7). “Do I look like a VIP?” I ask him.
I submit to an electronic scanner and body search that would do proud the guys charged with securing US airspace from dark, evil, bearded terrorists.
A luminous green tear-proof paper band is strappped around my left wrist as proof that that I have paid the entry fee. I last saw such a thing when I took my brats to the Village Market swimming pool area in Nairobi.
With that proof of security check and payment, the door is opened and I make my grand entrance … to find that I am about the only customer. Well, me, and a hundred beefy bouncers and twice that number of waiters.
Even the promised live band is nowhere in evidence. Some fellows are messing around with wires and electronic gizmos on the stage, below a giant screen featuring a live feed from Big Brother Africa. These fellows really love their (Big Brother participant) Mwisho. At least our (Kenya) Sheila is still in there.
I settle down to the mind-sapping episode, and it suddenly strikes me that throughout the history of Big Africa, contestants from other countries have usually gone by authentic African names; It’s only Kenyans who go by European “Christian” names. Maybe that trait will get us closer to heaven.
I digress. Being about the only customer and it’s going to 11pm has its upside. The attractive young waitresses in their satin blouses are all over me with very personalised attention.
They really aim to please and I get my beer in double quick time. I have been around long enough to remember that its; naomba bia (some beer please) rather than the rude, Kenyan; lete pombe (bring some beer).
Finally, the band, with a name I never quite catch, makes its entrance. I am impressed. Only six guys, made up of two guitarists, drummer, keyboards, bongo and vocalist. Certainly, not the massive line-ups that are the staple of ‘Congo style’ bands, with all the female dancers and all manner of male animators, poseurs and whatchamacallem crowding the stage. It’s not until much later that I realise that was only the advance party.
Anyway, it's going to midnight, and tomorrow is a working day, and I suppose it’s time to start getting home.
But then, I realise the place is steadily filling up. All the empty seats around me have been occupied, and it is evident that Dar’s bold & beautiful, young & restless, are out to have fun.
My eyes are threatening to pop out. The young girls are clearly determined to defy the laws of physics or whatever it was Newton said about liquids in jugs finding their own levels. The young girls of Nairobi cannot get their skirts any more micro-minier, and a new treatise is surely needed on the laws of gravity.
The place is beginning to rock. The stage is suddenly pulsating with writing bodies. The band has expanded from six personnel to a number that I cannot count after four Kili Lagers. The musicians are backed up by a half a dozen girl dancers in attire and moves that cannot be described on a public forum. The girls alternate with an equal number of male dancers, sharply dressed in all black outfits but nowhere near as good to look at.
It’s going to 2.00 a.m. when I decide to take my leave. The beautiful ones of Dar are still streaming in and the place is now jam-packed. I wonder whether the public holiday has been extended.
Outside, I stop by an open-air eater and pick up my ‘take-away’ dinner. An entire half-chicken and an extravagant ration of chips costs me all of TSh4,000 ($3). That’s less than Kenya Shillings 240!
I decline the offers from boda boda and tuk-tuk operators and decide it’s safe to walk the kilometre or so back to my hotel. This is Dar, not Nairobi.
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