Jackson Biko is no stranger to Nairobi nightlife. We get a peek into one of his nights out with an old friend in Westlands.
“Only the beautiful and the favoured walk in Westlands after 11PM,” I tell Tony. He’s my long chum from back in the day. He went to the States 16 years ago, when we had no hair on our chins, were idealists and were sure that we would eventually hold life by its cojones. He disappeared for a decade in midwest America, surfaced a few times after that, and is now back to visit; a citizen, married then divorced with an ugly Mc Donald’s paunch and an accent I can’t stand.
We are standing right outside the Equity Bank building on the (in)famous Electric Avenue. It’s hurtling towards midnight and Tony is smoking while we watch the throng of cars, Ubers, taxis and posh vehicles spew out girls and women with glitter on their cheeks and men with skinny jeans and college jackets. Small frail girls hang from the arms of bewildered expats barely believing their luck. There is laughter in the air. There is no way you can say the economy is a mess when you stand here. You can’t convince anyone that there is no money in circulation. This right here is the home of happiness.
“Do you know anyone who can score some weed?” Tony asks, as our eyes follow this girl who is miraculously walking in the highest and clearest heels in the history of heels. She looks like a giraffe with culture. I retrieve my phone from my pocket and call this photographer pal of mine who knows people who sell weed. He doesn’t pick. “Is Havana still the place to be?” Tony asks. I shrug, “Depends on who you ask”.
We stand there, watching a snazzy Porsche couple crawl along the street driven by an Asian girl with red lipstick. In the passenger seat, staring out at us without looking at us, is another Asian girl with red lipstick. Tony crushes his cigarette butt under his soles and sighs loudly, “I need a drink. Ebu call her again”. I call his college sweetheart and hand him the phone. “Where are you?” he growls. He hangs up, lights another cigarette and we walk to The Alchemist on Parklands Road. The Alchemist is full. At the entrance is a mzungu with long dirty-looking dreadlocks telling a pointie girl with numerous bangles on her wrist in a heavy British accent to, “Please make up your mind, luv?” Luv is nonplussed, or too high to answer.
We sit at the bar. “Do you accept Mastercards?” Tony asks the barman and I scold him for half an hour about that. Do we accept Mastercard? No we don’t accept Mastercard here, we accept cowrie shells and spearheads, you idiot! What. The.F**k? I only stop when his college sweetheart rocks up. She has two small strands of hair on her chin (I swear I’m not making this up). She’s stunning as morning dew but she has hairs on her chin. I spend the whole night resisting the urge to pluck those two strands of hair. On the stage, a band plays. Tony is smoking and laughing. His college sweetheart is rubbing the back of his neck and drinking mojitos. The beautiful and the favoured. This is Westlands, the wasteland of debauchery.