I mean, yeah, it was my first time in that place, but not my first time in a place like that. The first time I ever stepped into a strip club was in campo. We had this long standing tradition in our brotherhood – every dude has (or needs) a brotherhood – that required that whenever a birthday came around, we had to go out. The rave would start in the hostels with an event we named Shuka and Whiskey; a sorry bootleg of Blankets and Wines. So on Maitha’s birthday. we changiad money for a mzinga of Gold Whiskey (chang’aa, really), gathered in a room, put riddims on blast from an Ampex speaker and got wasted enough to see inner beauty. Then, and only then, did we leave for tao.
We weren’t even supposed to go to a strip club, we were just going to out ya kawaida, then someone’s alcohol gave him the idea of suggesting we hit Tahitis. I remember we were so broke on that day, if anyone was to try and beat us ngeta, they would only be rehearsing for the next victims. But then again, since when have empty wallets ever stopped a campus student; only empty heads do that. Just as we stepped out of the gate – all five of us – we met Charlo going back in from wherever.
“Ghai! Si mmeiva vichwa? Mnaenda?” he asked.
“Tunaenda strip club! Si tuishie?” I am not sure who responded. But whoever it was must have forgotten that Charlie was in that stage of campus life when he was trying to know God. Just the week before he had responded to an altar call (or so he claimed) and they had laid hands on him. That evening, however, his faith was tested, and he failed like it was a bar exam. Terribly. Before he knew it, we were on our way to tao with him in tow. We walked. Parklands and tao is just there.
Tahiti was somewhere in Nairobi downtown. A dark spot where they first fleece you sijui 5sok to enter. There were TVs on the walls playing ngwati – for the mood, I guess, and a deejay in a booth that may very well have been a cage. Most of what happened that night is either a haze, or not fit for public consumption because the people involved are now young lawyers trying to make a life for themselves in this city. What I can say, however, is that by the time we were stepping out, at around 3-4am, smelling of bad manners and poor decisions, a certain lost lamb of God was begging, “Aki maze mniwai sooh tano nirudie huyo dame. Nitakusort next week.”
Of course nobody gave it to him. Mostly because nobody had none, but even if there was anyone with cash left, he still would not be given. This deep connection he had forged with one of the strippers was not real. And the whole point of a brotherhood, anyway, is look out for a brother. No man left behind. His heart would heal.
Every other strip joint I have been to since then has been pretty much the same. Standard issue nude girls dancing on tables with high heels. Like this one that I wrote about in 2016 and this other one in Amsterdam that I visited with Jaber. The only other place that stood out was a place Jamo once took me to huko sijui Kirinyaga Road…or is it Nyama Kima. It is called Small World. You pay 100 bob to enter and 200 bob for VIP. Such pleasures of the body are not reserved for the middle class and rich folk only. There are no rules in Small World. You can watch and touch and if you’re in the VIP, a girl comes, splays herself on the table, those men stick their mtura fingers inside the girl’s ginene, and nobody gets punched in the face.
I remember the day I got home from Small World and Jaber opened for me the door at 2.30am and tried to hug me, I recoiled away from her. I would not let her touch me until after I had spent 30 minutes under a hot shower. The shower set on maximum heat to burn out all the kisononos I had carried from Small World.
I took a break from strip clubs after that. I mean, hitting a strip joint is pretty much like going on a Safari. Once you have gone on one, unless you are an anthropologist, then you have gone on them all. A giraffe looks the same in Nairobi National Park as it does in the Mara. A rhino does not get three tails because you saw it in Lewa. And there are no purple elephants – the ones you saw in Amboseli look the same as the one in Samburu. However, with that being said, I admit it is much better to look at lions mating from a hot air balloon while staying in Angama Mara…than in Paul Obuna’s car in Nairobi National Park.
Then Jaber’s birthday came along a few weeks ago. And this woman makes such a big deal out of being born, you’d think the rest of us are merely science experiments. She made this tall list of events to happen on one weekend, and part of that package was a visit to a strip club on Baricho Road.
I do not even understand the etymology behind this name XS Millionaires. Is it for people with excess money? Or is it a place where former millionaires gather to reminisce about how they once had it sweet and perfect for a while? If you ask me, me I think it is a place where you walk in as a couple and you come out as exes. I – and a certain groom somewhere – were almost deprived of our relationship status on that night.
I mean, it started just fine, you know. Girls would come on stage to distract us from the re-runs of old Premier League games showing on the screens…and the currency signs drawn on the walls. But what I could not understand is why this place is called a strip club, when there is no stripping going on. As in, sawa, they were not dressed for the second mass at Kibuye Catholic Church, but you will see more skin in a Sauti Sol video than in this place. Tahiti, Liddos, that spot on the Red-Light District in Amsterdam…even Small World with all its herpes…are called strip clubs because the ladies and men remove their clothes. They have earned that name strip club. I am just saying.
But whatever they denied us with their dress code, they made up for in dancing. I cannot remember them well now because Ciroc drowned their faces from my memories, but I remember they came in different colours every five or so minutes. When this one girl in matching light blue underwear came on stage, I think half of the men in that club came with her. She had thighs like nothing you have ever seen. I am sure there was not a single drooping mzekede in that club. What with the way she split herself open like a fantasy relationship, and moved her devilish waist, but never for a second removed her eyes off of me, dancing like it was the only thing God made her to do. The way she looked at us in the eye as if making a promise when she went on all fours, arched her back and presented her ass to us like an offering. And when she dragged herself, almost as if helplessly, begging, and grabbed the pole, we all felt her palms on our stupid erections. Then she climbed up to the top of the pole up to the roof, wrapped on leg around the pole (lucky bastard), flung the other leg apart and then slid down slowly like a Kisumu sunset.
Halafu you see, going to a strip club with your girlfriend might be risqué, but it is also risky business. You need to remember not to cheer too hard (lol) at some other woman, lest in comes back to bite you during an argument next Christmas. But then you see, I was invited here. You cannot drop me in water and not expect me to get wet. So hell yeah I cheered. Hard. Good thing we were a squad there anyway – her friends, myself, her and my friend Edu. My voice got drowned with the rest.
And because we cheered so loudly at her performance, she came over to where we were partying. When I saw her approach, my knees turned into butter. I swear if she had given me her name, I would be polygamous by now. Lakini because it was Jaber’s birthday party do you know what happened? Her friends bought her a lap dance from the girl in blue. And it is a tricky situation to be in when you see your crush throwing her ass on your girlfriend’s face, and she is over there hollering with her friends as she receives everything was destined for you. And you have to stand there pretending to be like I am happy for her, as if my stomach was not burning with jealousy.
Anyway, of importance is aliveness owada.
That was not the worst part of the night though. You know, let me tell you something. Your girlfriend’s friends are not really your friends. That is why someone – I am still investigating who – bought her another dance. Me I was over there throwing vodka to the back of my throat and discussing girls with Edu, when some guy showed up. Text book mandingo guy. Tall, as black as Guinness, muscles popping out of his body in ways they would never do in yours, slathered in some sweet scented baby oil that made him shine like a new coin. He wore nothing but a pair of jeans so tight I wonder how he even got into them in the first place.
That is the man Jaber’s friends brought to her. Guys! HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO COMPETE WITH THAT!!! Have you seen me? I do not have a beard. My nose occupies too much real estate on my face. I have a half chipped tooth from a bike accident decades ago. My eyes went to shit a long time ago, so my resting face is me squinting like I am always looking at a list of terrible excuses. Definitely no muscles, and beer dissolved my six packs into one thick layer of fat.
No. Listen. This is not self-deprecation. This is just being honest with myself. Hell, there is this waitress at Ocean Basket who once told me that I am underwhelming in person. [Long story for another day, but shit!]
HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO NOT COMPARE?
Do not look at me like that. You tell me. How can you fail to compare? Even you would do the exact same thing. And it was not out of worry for me so much as it was for her. Because you see the way anyone who has only ever eaten at home swears his/her mother’s cooking is the best…even when it is just mashakura? Then one day you take this person to Sierra to eat medium rare steak with mash potatoes, mushroom sauce and spinach? It would be a shocker! Their taste buds are not used to such things.
Now there she was, this poor thing. Tasting steak for, presumably, the first time in her life as her mashakura stands and watches. It was not until that prick started rotating his prick on my girlfriend’s face did Edu rush over to me and turned me around.
“Hapana!!! You are not supposed to watch. Angalia huko,” he said pushing me away until I ended up in the next table. It was full of older women, and when they heard Edu chasing me away, one of them let me sit next to her while another got me a double shot of Jager. As if alcohol could wash away the things I had already seen.
“Huyo ni dame wako?” They asked.
“Eeeeh.” I said, then started laughing at nothing in particular.
“Wewe hufai kukua hapo. Fanya vitu vingine.”
“Vitu kama zako hivi?”
I am not sure that last part happened. But I remember they agreed to dance with me, to assuage the grief of the jealousy that was burning my chest. Xs Millionaires is the wild wild west. You leave your boyfriend alone to get a lappie, dakika achiel, he is gone. Dichuo ndiga, jadha, kikano marach to oselal. When one got tired, she handed me over to the next one. When I took her hand, I felt a ring, and so I foolishly asked her, “You’re married?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Why, is it a problem?”
“Well, is he here tonight?”
“So there is no problem”
We danced until she could not dance anymore, when she turned around from grinding on me and asked, “Ati you are the one whose girlfriend is getting a lappie?”
“Yeah. Why, is it a problem?”
“No. The way you dance, trust me, you have nothing to worry about.”
Not much of a mshakura after all, eh? Big things come in small packages omera!
Here is the thing though, fellas. If you ever find yourself with your girlfriend at a strip club with a baby oil thief rotating his mande ne go on your woman, there are two ways of looking at the situation. Both are valid. One, look away and try not imagine your lady pleasuring herself with a man hotter than an NYS scandal. Or two, think of it as him marinating her for you for later. Because at the end of the day, she is yours.
Think of Mr. Babyoil over here as John the Baptist, preparing the way for the rod.
The ‘strip’ girls’ turns to dance on stage ishad, then it was the jamaas’ turn to the stage. First, it was the baby oil thief. He had changed from those skin tights to some army shorts, before going on stage and basically doing Magic Mike typa shit, making the rest of us look like, well, shit. He climbed up the pole to the top, then hung on it like he was doing a mini plank, then descended down slowly as he wound his stupid waist, fucking the air, and as he did, his forearms, triceps and biceps bulged and beamed in the dim light. Just as he had intended. And the girls screamed. Just as he had intended.
There was a girl in the club with one of those tiaras and a veil. It was her bachelorette party. I have never understood stag/bachelorette parties. They do not make sense to me. Ati last night of freedom. What do you mean last night of freedom? What freedom? You are engaged to be married! You are not free, you just have not involved the government in your sex life yet.
Aaaaaanyway…Baby oil dude took her up there and did to her what he had done to Jaber less than an hour before. It made me so happy, because somewhere in Jaber’s head the notion that she was special was being demolished like a building on riparian land. Dude worked on that bride to be like he had not just done the same to my girl just a few minutes before. Sorry Jaber, mashakura ndio yako. Mwenda tenzi na omo….
But I felt sad for the groom. Poor chap was probably at home, gathered around a fire with his fellow prayer warriors, fasting and praying for a successful marriage…and here was his wife, stuck in between a pole and a hard place.