The bouncer strolled into the VIP Section with the confidence of a man who knows his place. His eyes scurried through the mass of people gathered. Satisfied, he turned slowly and walked out. He left in his wake, the strong scent of Axe Men Dry Anti-perspirant.
It was a party of smells. Rising from the tables was the sharp smell of something fermented that the spilt beer gave off. Bouncing off the walls was the scent of day old perfume, intermingling with fresh perfume that was tainted by sweat. As if some people had spritzed their dirty bodies with perfume, in lieu of bathing before getting to the club. In the melee, the distinct fruity smell of cocktails danced from the group in the corner. They were sipping their colorful drinks as they eyed the crowd in the VIP, looking for people they could dance with. To top it all off, the pungent smell of tobacco married with the sweet aroma of shisha to create a heady, intoxicating smell.
Outside of the VIP, the smell intensified. The dancing bodies gave their share of scent to the room. Each bringing their own personal scent, doused with a little bit of alcohol and a lot of sweat. The fans that whirled from the ceiling did little to bring fresh air into the club. Yet no one cared about the smell. Different reasons had lured everyone to Little Temple. Totally different reasons.
Kamau did not want to be here and you could tell. Ensconced in the corner, sipping on a brown bottle, his head darted back and forth. Very little of him fit into the tiny, tall and complicated chair that the club offered. He sat up straight, looking painfully uncomfortable and ready to leave. Next to him, Bett was dancing in circles, holding out his hand. He was trying to get Kamau to join him but Kamau was not having it.
“Come on. Just one song.”
“Just dance then we can go.”
Kamau closed his eyes. He pictured bumping into someone he knew. Maybe someone who worked for him. Someone who would know that he wasn’t supposed to be here. Someone who would ask after his family. Oh god. Grabbing his keys, Kamau bolted out of his chair and made for the exit. Darned club. Why were there this many people? Why was it taking so long to get to the exit? Pushing roughly past the dancing bodies, Kamau was almost at the exit when a hand grabbed his hand. Steeling himself, Kamau turned. It was only Bett. Kamau pushed off Bett’s hand and rushed down the stairs.
The cold wind was a welcome relief. He could hear Bett calling him but he did not want to turn back. Surprisingly, even at that hour, Mama Ngina Street was busy. Hawkers were loudly shouting their wares, Nairobians were hurriedly walking past, street children were milling around waiting for someone they could ask for kumi from. Matatus and touts added to the din by blaring their horns and shouting their routes.
One hawker eyed Kamau askance.
“Mzee, ata wewe umetoka huko?”
Chagrined, Kamau rushed to his car, started it and drove off.
There was no one to dance with. Christine had made two rounds through the club yet no one had piqued her interest. Making her way back to her friends in the VIP section, she felt her hopes dwindling. This was supposed to be a big night. The night before she had to travel up country for Christmas. Christine had hoped that it would be a night of debauchery. A night of dancing up on girls whose names she wouldn’t remember the next day, kissing strangers in the washroom, drinking alcohol that she couldn’t pronounce and hopefully going home with a girl that would cap off the night in style. She wanted memories that she could take out when she was home with her family. Memories that would make the unsolicited advice on how to get a man, and incessant ‘when will we meet your boyfriend?’ questions worthwhile. The night was off to a slow start and Christine worried that she would have to go home with no memories.
As she headed back to her friends, she contemplated making a detour to the ladies. From past experience, she had learned that that was the best place to meet girls. As they lined up, waiting to use the washrooms, they sized each other up, waiting to see who was with who, then if sufficiently interested, they would talk about mundane things. Like how the club never had enough toilet paper. Or how the DJ was being rather boring. Or Christine’s favourite, why the washrooms always seemed to be full. Often, the chivalrous girls would offer to let her go first. Afterwards, she would offer to buy drinks as a way of thanking them.
There was a promising line in the washrooms. Standing at the door, Christine appraised the small crowd and singled out the girl she found most attractive. The girl was standing alone, a roll of toilet paper in her hands, dancing around. Christine approached.
“Do you intend to use all of that?”
“What? Oh. No, no. You can have it.”
“Thank god! Most of the times, there is no tissue paper when I come.”
“It’s your lucky day then.”
Christine smiled. She replied:
“Not really. I always find such long lines when I come. My timing is never right.”
“I don’t think it’s a matter of timing. If you really need to go, you can go first. I’ll go after.”
Inside, Christine danced around as she really didn’t need to pee. After what she considered to be an appropriate amount of time, she flushed. Smiling, she opened the door.
“Omg. You saved my life.”
The girl chuckled.
“You have to let me thank you. What are you drinking?”
“You don’t have to.”
“I insist. Come on. It’s only fair. “
“Okay, you can convince me later. Right now, I really need to pee.”
As Christine stood there, waiting for her to come out, she couldn’t help the grin that was plastered on her face. There was still some hope for her memories.