“The oldest trick in the book is calling the police on a club that is usually packed even during the weekdays. This is business and you would be surprised at what oiling an officer’s palm with a few thousand notes could get you. He immediately becomes a ‘goon for hire’ and you tip him off on an irregularity committed by the club, from not renewing their licenses, revellers taking drugs, and sometimes something as simple as noise pollution,” she confides.
At the beginning of the year, 1824, which is popularly referred to as ‘Sunday School’, was reeling in confusion after a closure threat from the Nairobi County government. Its entry into the business saw business plunge for other establishments such as Rafikiz and Off-Road thus many were convinced that the action was instigated by competition.
By popularising its Saturday and Sunday party nights, it had cut a niche for itself among the middle class who ensured its longevity and this didn’t sit well with some.
New clubs will entice patrons by extending operating hours, investing heavily on the VIP section, offering low costs on bottle services and employing quite the dime pieces when it comes to waitresses.
Clubs such as Kiza are keen on having celebrity-themed nights, guest appearances by popular celebrities and socialites. In this cut-throat business, they need this to survive.
The uptown club has been having a cold showdown with B-Club, which is not situated so far away. The two are known to host the biggest spenders. They attract the same level of clients and thus why cold war has been going on between them.
“We have celebrities getting paid as much as Sh150,000 for club appearances. I think this war is good for artistes. Popular DJs are being paid more to ‘defect’ from one club to another and that is healthy for the industry,” says Raj Shan, a manager in one of those uptown clubs.
The entrance of the new City Platinum Club in the CBD, which took over from the Florida 2000 commonly known as F2, has meant less profits for the other numerous clubs around Kenya Cinema.
“The club has made sure that you spend what you can and however you want to. By lowering its beer prices, everyone is comfortable spending at City Platinum because there is the common lounge, balcony, VIP section and a VVIP section that is complete with leather sofa sets, a carpet, huge LED TV screens and a privatized bar,” says Jack a frequent customer.
With the cut-throat competition, new clubs are now gaining ground at the expense of others:
Until recently, Carnivore was the heartthrob of Kenyans and was crowned accordingly after shadowing K1 and K2, which had been raking in millions from patrons that thronged the establishments. Before we knew it, Rafikiz was sired and this was a game changer as revellers changed route from the dominant Westlands to Lang’ata. Its management had changed tact and introduced the first ever parking lot partying craze which attracted scores.
This would be the status quo but not for long. Eager to have a piece of the cake, Club Psys was opened up adjacent to Rafikiz and revellers were now spoilt for choice. Both clubs used price wars to control traffic into the joints.
With Lang’ata taking over as the entertainment hotspot, another club- Off Road – was birthed and was located directly opposite Psys. As is the norm, patrons welcomed it with open arms. However, after a while, the patrons felt that there wasn’t ample parking space and went back to Rafikiz. By the time Psy’s management had remedied the parking issue, it was a tad too late.
No sooner had revellers started thronging Rafikiz than Club 1824 reared its enticing face. Now, 1824 has been the club to beat.
“Many clubs tend to get congested and stuffy but the open space concept not only accommodates more people but is also a favourite for Shisha smokers,” says Kelvin Kamau.
Offers such as a plate of nyama choma for every liquor bottle purchased, a dedicated whisky bar, and the idea of partying on a Sunday – which earned it the Sunday school tag- made sure that 1824 edged out its competition.
Club 1824’s manager, Gabu Chimwani admits to invisible hands having a hand in plotting their down fall:
“Some clubs go the extra mile to push us to the wall. We were recently charged with noise pollution and threatened with closure. We however happened to find out that the complainant doesn’t even live in Lang’ata and this this raised a lot of questions,” he reveals.
The scene in Westlands wasn’t much different because Psy’s was battling it out with Rezorous, Red Tape and Black Diamond. Rezorous reigned supreme over the competition thanks to the numerous celebrity-themed events giving it an edge over Red Tape, which would later rebrand to Ignition. Black Diamond has maintained its status and still anchors a huge following.
Club Changes would later make its debut leading to the slow demise of Rezorous but its reign was cut short with the entry of Club Ignition that boasted of bigger space and state-of-the-art furniture.
Across the road Bacchus and Club Havana were dominating a niche market thanks to their EDM and house music popular with the predominantly white folk. This was short-lived when Buddha bar at Delta House came along. It had perfected the art of attracting the same crowd by popularizing the same kind of music.
At this time Skyluxx made its entry into the game, consequently knocking clubs such as The Loft and Tree House off their feet. Its lit bottle service at the VIP section, and a VVIP section, which was one of its kind, saw it maintain the party crowd.
That was until Aqua Blue and later Club Hypnotica made their debut and the masses were swayed to them. A majority of clients from Bacchus and Havana also moved to Aqua Blue and Club Hypnotica.
Lately, Club Hypnotica has become the club to beat having employed international DJs who spice the night up. The club has wonderful and beautiful well-dressed waitresses who have been a major attraction to clients. It also offers specialized services as well as a good ambiance.
The club also started serving free breakfast to anyone who is in the club at 5am. Additionally, the club offered free car parking and security in case one does not wish to drive their cars home after a long night. A patron gets free taxi rides in case they are too high to drive their car home.
As the masses were being swayed by trends, the big boys chose to play it safe. XS Millionaire was the talk of town, reclaiming Baricho road of its long lost glory of street parties and club hopping which had been authored by Club Choices ‘Kachoi’ and K2. The fact that XS Millionaire was both a strip and pole dancing joint’ raked in money and clients in droves.
Socialites such as Vera Sidika got to host events and this attracted the high and mighty who would not only ‘chop their money’ but also share some of the bottles with the much sought-after socialites.
The club was able to cut its own niche in terms of high pricing and took over Baricho road to date.
Club Asylum, just adjacent to XS Millionaire also came in and revelers gave it the limelight it so deserved. We could say it picked up a thing or two from its arch rival which also ensured its longevity. And then from the blues came Club Marabou Lounge, the new hot joint along Baricho road that has since stolen the show. With comfort lounge seats and themed nights, Club Marabou even went ahead to create a WhatsApp group for its popular clients that is used to update them about the weekend’s activities. Once in a while the club throws free drinks and parties for its loyal clients