PARTY CULTURE : The Evolution Of Nairobi City’s Nightlife

“You gotta fight. For your right. To parrrrrty.” ― Beastie Boys.

Ten years ago, the Nairobi party culture wasn’t the madness and the insane rave it has morphed into these days.

Back then, the CBD was the most happening joint where clubs like Florida 2000, Taidys, Heartz, Bettyz, Ibiza and Scratch ruled the City from dusk to dawn.

In Westlands and some of the City’s environs, Clubs like Changez, Skyluxx, Ebony and Rezorus roared like Siberian tigers every weekend night.

Back then, hundreds of City revelres flocked these nightclubs on weekends to blaze the night away as DJs like DJ Adrian kept the people on their feet all night long.

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The famous Skylux Nightclub in Westlands, Nairobi

There was no Ubers or Taxifys back then. Or the good, clean Safe Boda and a night out would then be met with the horrors of having to negotiate your sloshed way home safely in crowded matatus full of all manner of drunk delinquents.

Whiskey wasn’t even the most popular drink on the tables and drinks like Jack Daniels or Hennessy would only be taken with great moderation and by the creme de la creme of the party crowd – And in select bars too.

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And unlike now, the party of the heydays was an incongruous, messy affair that meant that you would, most likely, end up robbed or raped or beaten silly since there was little or no streamlining of the general security of the average reveler.

In the dark days of the City partying, the most popular drink was a good Smirnoff Vodka mzinga and a lot of binging on cheap spirits like Kibao Vodka and Kenya Cane at some of the City’s backstreets before hitting the club to down it all with a couple Tusker beers.

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Reggae nights, my friend, were one hell of a dangerous riot that would, most likely, see you end up either properly ransacked or beaten to a pulp by the lawless thugs that would cram the events on a daily.

But the madness and the cluelessness and the sweaty armpits and the dreary lack of transportation of the heydays is now gone.

Now, a typical City reveler looks like they have just walked out of an Instagram Ad… Minted, clean, squeaky-fresh, smelling great and dressed to the goddam nines.

The lady of todays night outs looks like someone who has walked off a Vogue photoshoot with her bouncy hair, immaculate makeup, dainty feet, gleaming high heels, designer bags and dizzying perfume.

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Ladies night out at one of the City nightclubs Photo/Whiskey River

Gone are the crammed, corridor nightclubs that characterized the Nightlife of the late 2000s.

Now, Nairobians are partying in massive outdoor spaces that look more like Coachella arenas with no roofs and mostly made up of loose tents and avante-garde seating areas.

The DJ area, unlike the one we grew up in, now looks like a hallowed pulpit where the DJ is extravagantly elevated atop all of the party-goers doing his thing and working the crowd like a wild frenzy.

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And todays DJs, too, are flashy brand names by themselves and no longer the nameless, hideous faces that would ensconce themselves in a little dark corner and mysteriously mix the bangers away.

Nairobi has evolved from the hideousness and the clammy shadowyness of Taidys and F2 into a whole party marvel with the likes of the futuristic Whiskey River, On the Rocks, Space Lounge, Bourbon Bridge, Jiweke Tavern and more setting incredibly high party standards.

And unlike in the late 2000s, Vodkas have drastically declined from the party menus and Whiskeys have taken the number one spot in the hearts of millions of City revelers. And not just Whiskeys, Nairobians are consuming hundreds of litres of some of the costliest Whiskeys in town.

Now, Jack Daniels’, Hennessys, Black Labels and the like are not the reserve of a select few. Everyone is now placing a Jack Daniel on the table. And it doesn’t come cheap.

And because the Instagram ballin’ culture has taken root in the Country, and clubs like Kiza Lounge and B-Club have made an indelible mark in the swankier parts of town, more and more young women have immersed themselves into the enviable Moet and Chandon World and a good night out with some of these girls has to see a couple Moet bottles demolished.

Or, at least, the less costlier Belaire.

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Unlike in the late 2000s, a regular City nightclub now can comfortably make a staggering Ksh 5 million per night. And more on the next night.

You’ll be lucky if the night involves a major UEFA Match. And luckier if the following day is a national holiday.

And because access to loans and finances has become all the more easier, millions of Nairobians are now driving themselves into the nightclub and driving their drunk asses home.

And in case you’re not yet a car owner, hundreds of Ubers and Little Cabs will be waiting to transport your torpid ass home after one hell of a Jack Daniel’s-fuelled night.

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Nairobi partying has definitely evolved from the messiness of the 2000s and morphed into something so classic, so sophisticated, so elegant and so swanky you’ll be foolhardy to turn down an invite to a night out.

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The interior of newly-opened Bourbon Bridge Lounge along Thika Road Photo/ Bourbon Bridge

And because we have finally come of age, and are now partying like we are in West Hollywood, California, more and more towns are now imitating the Nairobi nightlife complete with the whole high-end nightclubs, interior set-up, top-notch choice of drinks and general rhythm of the party.

Clubs like Java Blue Lounge in Embu, Sebbs and Platinum 7D in Nakuru, Bubbles in Naivasha and Moran Lounge in Nanyuki have set the tone and continue to offer the same impeccable partying standards set by Nairobi and have not just taken the cue but are now even perfecting it and pulling bigger City crowds on weekends and holidays for folks bent on a trip out of town.

Gone are the days of blind, dingy City partying.

Now, Nairobians are partying like they are in San Diego. And Whiskey has never tasted better.