In Nairobi's nightlife, 'there's no time to stop'

Two Nairobi hip-hop artists describe the Nairobi nightlife, which offers a party every night of the week.

Brendan Bannon
P.O.P., a memeber of Nairobi's hip-hop group Ukoo Flani, waits for the night to begin.

This post is part of the Daily Dispatches project chronicling life in Nairobi, Kenya throughout the month of April.

Nairobi’s character changes after the sun’s gone down. P.O.P and Richie Rich, hip-hop musicians with the city’s Ukoo Flani collective, tell Mike Pflanz how past midnight is not as you might imagine.

It’s way into tomorrow already, and the DJ at the Skylux club, on the 3rd floor of a nondescript office block, has packed the dance floor.

It filled up late – the Barcelona versus Real Madrid soccer game kept most of the partygoers in the pub longer than usual. But now the beats deepen, and the dance floor darkens.

RICHIE RICH: Something new’s coming to Nairobi in the last five years. You know there’s a lot moving in this city, there’s construction, there’s new apartments everywhere, guys are feeling that there’s a hype about the place, it’s picking up. Money’s moving around. People have it, or they’re chasing it.

There’re people saying this is the New York of Africa, that we’re all moving so fast, there’s no time to stop. There’s two hustles in Nairobi – the daytime and the nighttime.

P.O.P: In the daytime, people are coming in from all around the city, other districts, they are selling things, they are working somewhere, then they go home. In the nighttime, it’s for people really who live here.

In the day, everyone’s got their head down, moving fast, somewhere to go. There’s no time to talk. Maybe you don’t know anyone you see on the streets. Everyone’s slick, man. There ain’t no city with the percentage of slickers we got here.

Nighttime, there are familiar faces everywhere. We go to the same places, we know each other. This place, it’s more friendly in the night than in the day. I love the night.

RICHIE RICH: Every night, there’s something. Here you can be at the party from Monday to Monday. Even Monday, there’s a place that’s packed, you go in there and you’re like, damn, who are all these people packing this place on a Monday night?

Tuesday, there’s so many places. Wednesday, now it’s kicking. Thursday, man, I don’t know what happened to Thursday. It came up about a year ago and now it’s like another weekend day. I’ll be there at a party thinking, “There’s somewhere I gotta be in the morning.” Then you look around and see it’s going crazy. You can’t leave that.

Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays. I can’t keep up. Guys are just throwing it every night here.

P.O.P.: You know this is the only city in Nairobi that’s got class. Everywhere else, you get a guy he’s the boss of some company, very rich, but here with everyone else wearing the same clothes, you can’t tell.

Here even people from the ghetto dress expensive. They are down in the markets buying secondhand Hilfiger, secondhand Nike, secondhand whatever, all the stuff. Girls are spending little money and looking like they’re worth millions.

Man, people here dress to impress. You can look at her and think, man, is she from the slums or is she from some high-class neighborhood? You can’t tell. That’s Nairobi.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.