The Thing About

The thing about focuses on different topics and issues from an African perspective

Being Turn Up Averse

I do not like going out.

Yep. I said it. I enjoy limiting my daily human interactions to the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On a good day with extreme amounts of coffee and sleep, I am capable of doing 12 to 4 p.m.

For those in that phase of their life we call youth, these statements may be treasonous and downright blasphemous. I'm going to be quite honest and say it with my chest. Clubs are trash. No offense to club owners or those who make careers providing and coordinating entertainment and all that jazz.

My main point of contention is the need to leave our houses and go to boxes that simulate what the Sahara Desert must feel like crowded. Why can’t we stay at home and read books or watch movies?

Must we leave our houses?

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good night out with friends. Laughter, excitement, people watching, and music are all great things. I love seeing acquaintances and suddenly becoming the best of friends, only to forget about each other the next day. I live for such moments.

However, clubs are where the rules of society go to die for the four or so hours you are trapped in a room with eight windows for 200 plus people. Clubbing and clubs can be a good thing but I’m not a fan of the steps necessary for a night out. You have to dress up and look presentable. You have to find that outfit that screams ‘look but don’t touch. I am a work of art.’ It’s hard. Have you seen my regular clothes?

On a day to day basis, I look like I put in somewhat of an effort. Yet I manage to look like I have not bought clothes since 1965, which is a difficult aesthetic to pull off because I was born 30 years later but nevertheless, I succeed at it. If I’m not dressed like I just came out of 1965 I am dressed in nap chic clothing. Meaning no matter the location or time, I look ready to take a nap. As Africans, we are expected to always look nice because you never know who you will meet but I think it is insane to expect me to look nice for people I may never see again. Especially since I barely look nice for those I see on a daily basis.

This doesn't stop me though. You can find me at a club on a Friday or Saturday night when I have been cordially invited by my friends. When I was in high school, people would plan how they would be going to this club or recounting an experience they had over the weekend at a different club. At the time, I thought these dens of dancing and debauchery were where I needed to be. I so badly wanted to go and be in the wilderness that is a night out in Kenya. I wanted to be in on the who’s who of Nairobi jokes and the over the weekend gossip. Let us take a moment to laugh at the naiveté of young Bev.

Having finally made it to the other side of the clubbing experience I can say that I was a fool. Even though I am a novice when it comes to clubbing I feel like I have experienced enough to sustain me for the next millennium. In fact, future generations in my family need not go out because I have experienced it all.

Having been a lackluster participant for the past few years, I have unfortunately experienced the club scene in a handful of countries. I would say that my expertise is Kenyan clubs, but I have dabbled lightly in the collegiate club experience in America. I can honestly say Kenya is winning. I’m probably too poor or maybe I’m just not going to the right places but hands down, Nairobi clubs know what they are doing. Kenyan clubs are in the year 3018 because I have never been to a club in Kenya where there is an unknown liquid covering the entire club floor.

We may be in debt to China but we give praise that in the year 2018, we are not at the club asking ourselves: am I stepping in throw-up or a drink right now?

It always seems and feels like throw up more than a drink and it irks my soul that I have to dress up. Wear MY GOOD SHOES, only for them to get ruined. How am I meant to convey, “hang me in an art gallery” or “paint me like one of your French girls” if I have an unknown liquid sticking to my shoes and mysteriously working its way to my toes?

I know many would simply suggest wearing shoes like Ngomas or ones you can toss after. But I am from Africa - the country, not the continent – we go big or go home. Have you seen the Sapeurs in Congo? This is what we are aiming for when we go out. Walking art. For the service I am providing, I should be granted a floor that is not a slip and slide.

On top of that, you want me to pay to enter the club so that I can ruin my shoes and outfit?

Steve harvey.gif

Again, Kenya coming in with the win. You do not have to pay an entrance fee to get into most clubs. You just need to go through one of the laziest pat downs you will ever receive, and you are free to try out hell for a night. Calm down, calm down. I’m not insinuating that clubs are sinful, I’m simply trying to figure out why they are so hot.

Which brings me to my next point. Why do clubs never have adequate enough ventilation to support the number of people inside the club?

I know there are clubs that have fans and some that have the little water spray thingies, but not all clubs are equal. Homo sapiens have been on this earth for the past 300,000 years and it is mind-blowing to think we have not yet figured out a solution to get oxygen- the thing we need to live- into clubs.

I’m going to be all the way honest with you today. I sweat. A lot. Not like a regular amount of sweat but a torrential of sweat. I breathe and I’m sweating. I go into the club or stand in line at a club and that is it. Game over. You might as well stick me over a fire pit and roast me like a pig because according to my body it is that hot. You know what doesn’t help, going into a club where people are jumping, hugging, grinding, dancing and emitting enough carbon dioxide to give plants life and stop global warming. It’s madness. I knew humans were self-hating but not to the point where we would not allow air circulation into these dungeons of music and dance.

As humans, we must practice self-care and do better, if not for ourselves then at least for me. I’m tired of standing in the club fanning myself asking:

‘is this legal?’

Because it feels like it should be illegal. Going into the club is what I imagine gladiators must have felt like going into the arena with lions. They are not at all similar, but I had to throw in a line about lions somewhere and this was it.

Clubbing is an extreme sport. It is not for the faint-hearted. It will bleed you dry financially. You must spend money on your wearable art, getting into the club, buying drinks and finally on the Uber/Lyft/taxi that will take you home. It will strip you of your mental and physical wellbeing, whether it is constantly worrying if you need to have your feet replaced because the toxic sludge is touching your toes or having a bunch of people decide your foot is the floor. Clubbing is not easy, and it explains why some people believe it is necessary to get drunk in order to have a semblance of a good time.

Only drunk people or people on their way to being drunk can navigate the organized chaos that is the bar. Humans manage to queue to vote, queue for the ATM, the women’s bathroom and at the supermarket but we cannot bring this simple concept to the club. On a day to day basis, we all suffer in lines. This is the agreed-upon term of our social contract. It is in chapter 1 of How-to human, yet when we get to the club/bar we lose all sense of this agreement.

What really riles me up is that I don’t drink. I’m not trying to wash away the reality that we are in a box of a room for the next few hours. I don’t need to get energy or find the exciting part of my personality… that’s what cocaine is for. When I go to the bar it is to get water so that I can quench the unbearable thirst I have built up dancing in the Kalahari Desert of a dancefloor.

I know what you’re thinking. Calm down, Bev. It’s not that serious. You can cool yourself with the tears that will undoubtedly be shed in whatever club you are in that night. I agree that it is not that serious of a matter but after all my experiences in various nightclubs, I believe I deserve VIP.

It is a difficult task not to push someone who places themselves in front of you or grabs you from behind. I am the real VIP because I spare people’s lives. I have to smile awkwardly as they drunkenly apologize seven times for brushing past me, tell me their life story, or tell me how much they love Africa after bumping into me. That is painful. The least the clubs could do for my suffering is give me access to the even smaller square called VIP. Especially now that I have an award-winning solution for them.

If you think about it clubs make no sense at all. You have an unusually high number of people in a small space that is designated for drinking, dancing, and networking. Everywhere cannot and should not be the dance floor or the place for people to be swallowing each other’s tongues. Let’s designate these areas. You want to kiss, here you go. You want to dance, here you go. You want to mingle and network, here is the part of the club that the volume is turned down so you can hear each other. You want to watch people but not touch or come into contact with them, here is VIP. Everybody can almost win but most importantly, I get VIP.

As with most things in this world I often find myself asking, who came up with this? For centuries our early ancestors lived in caves. We have come so far but we insist on straying from the light and taking steps back. The cave people did not have access to fans, did not have electricity and other basic amenities that we willingly forego when we go to clubs. Do we really hate ourselves that much?

I can confidently answer yes because I know I will be back. After all this complaining and writing, I will find myself at a club one of these days awkwardly shouting, ‘excuse me’ or ‘wow, you’re still alive? I haven’t seen you in forever!’ To make matters worse, I am from one of the turn-up capitals in Africa. Nairobians know no bounds, no limits and no reason to hold back from clubbing any day of the week. You will be invited for happy hour, someone’s birthday, or some quick drinks at the local because it is Furahiday*. As Camp Mulla famously said, this party don’t stop.

*Furahiday - Word play on Friday and the word Furaha which means joy in Swahili.