I don’t dance, or better yet I don’t like to dance. I have two left feet, I’m uncoordinated, I don’t know what to do with my hands and most times I’m off beat. In my African skin, a skin that comes with the heritage of music and rhythmic dances I feel trapped. I’m an African with the dance skills of a white man. I’m the last person to suggest going to a club because then I’ll have to sit the whole night watching people do their thing and girls with lithe waists and big bums swaying them side to side enticing, calling and teasing.
I’m at home in a bar. A bar with tables all over the place and space in between them just enough for you to manoeuvre your way to and from the bathroom. To dance would be to inconvenience the person next to you. A dance could end up with a broken beer bottle and a split eye. You don’t spill another man’s beer. Spilling beer is sacrilegious even the Pope would tell you that. A mere apology doesn’t suffice, you have to profusely apologize and summon the waitress to get a replacement drink and one for consolation. Even this does not guarantee that in their drunkeness the angered man with the wrath of the beer gods won’t strike your head with the said bottle. So for the sake of peace, you don’t dance in the bar. You order your drinks sit pretty and sip on them pondering on life’s big questions and wallow in your thoughts of your depleting bank account.
So this was the day the Pope came, rumor has it that on earth he’s God’s number two. People lined up the streets to see him arrive, people prepared billboards and banners – people literally went out of their way for this man. Me? Well, we were given a holiday. Even though I might not have the African dance gene, I am kenyan and to a Kenyan a holiday means only one thing (or two) party and bulshit. So like any warm blooded kenyan man I was true to the calling. The stage was set and a plan was laid out. In the midst of holiness I would be the speck you see through your logs.
The first liter of vodka went down and things started changing. The music was vibrating through my bones as some lady sang at the top of her voice about wanting a girl with the biggest behind and German juice. I know it’s German juice now because I Googled it, what I heard was gin and juice and that made more sense. What is German juice? How is it made? Do they grow oranges on a Nazi burial site and make Nazi orange juice? Do I need a passport to enjoy German juice? I’ve never seen it on the supermarket shelves so I’m guessing I can only find it at the German embassy. Then why did she want a girl with the biggest behind? Wait, never mind.
But music has a way of changing moods and in no time the whole room was charged up with guys also wanting girls with the biggest behinds. So on the eve to a national prayer day we did what any Kenyan would/should do… We went to a strip club. If you’ve ever been to a Kenyan strip club you know it’s characterised by scantily dressed women doused in cheap baby oil and even cheaper lipsticks and weave. The place has a putrid smell, a mixture of sweat, bodily fluids and carnal sexual desires. There’s nothing sexy about that, in fact it’s nauseating. Not this club though, hidden in the outskirts of the Nairobi CBD this club was different.
Walking in the bouncer pads you down and opens the locked gate. You feel like you’re entering some protected haven. Up the neon lit carpeted stairs, you come to a table with a lady – fair skin and lots of cleavage – dressed in a white blouse and a red half coat. She asks for 400 shillings as entrance to the club and is quick to mention for 1000 shillings you can access the VIP. I ask her what’s the difference and she looks at me weirdly. She looks at me the same way you’d look at a person who points at a toilet and asks you what’s that. I could read contempt in her overly maked up eyes but her wry smile threw me off when she answered “Pay and you’ll find out.” Being almost broke and too drunk to know it was a bad idea I brushed it off and paid the normal fee, me and my two friends and we got in. Sometimes you go into a place with expectations and most times they are never met. You plan a blind date expecting to meet barbie only to find Winnie the pooh and sometimes you find barbies hotter freakier sister. At the club what I didn’t expect was them to have screens showing live porn. For godsake the Pope is probably 10 kilometers away some decency wouldn’t hurt. I mean I can’t do anything about the half naked girls – clothes are expensive – but we can surely change what’s on a television screen.
As soon as we were seated at some corner booth that had a straight line of sight to the pole stage a guy in a suit came to take our orders. Two beers and a coke – it’s what we were having. Trying my best to ignore the lewd images on the screen I saved face watching a lady start dancing to (I don’t remember the name of the song)and taking her clothes off. At some point, stark naked on the stage she bent over to pick up a bottle of baby oil and smeared it all over her body. The guys sitting right next to the pole must’ve been exhilarated when she went on all fours and crawled towards them asking one to spread the oil. Drinks came and with them three ladies all scantily dressed all bodily blessed and they pushed each of us on our backs as St hey straddled our hips – lap dance time. Word of caution – apparently they were giving free lap dances – call it philanthropy I don’t know but thank you Pope.
I already mentioned I don’t dance, when I do its scary. So I also don’t dance with people and when I do I’d have to have known you. Call me old fashioned but I need to know who’s buttocks are on my groin. So as soon as she sat on my laps trying to do her thing I Draked – yes people don’t kill me – I whispered into her ear
“I don’t want a dance”
She turned around looked at me put her arms around my neck and became even more aggressive. It was tempting but it felt too impersonal so I politely asked her to get off me. She did and sat next to me angling herself to fave me with her arms resting on my shoulder and conspicuously putting her right thigh over my legs – she doesn’t give up. It was her turn to whisper into my ears and her voice wasn’t what I expected it to be. It was soft almost sweet she asked me to buy her a drink. So I did, wine to be specific. What threw me off is when it came she asked for a straw. Who drinks wine with a straw? I almost felt like taking it away from her but I was being a gentleman – what some of you might call being stupid.
“Is this your first time here?” She asked sipping on her straw.
“No.” I lied
“I’ve never seen you here before you’re lying.” She playfully poked me and said “you were curious weren’t you?”
“Curious about what?”
“What happens here.”
“What happens here?” I asked looking into her eyes. “What do you mean. What happens here?”
She laughed and sipped some more on her drink. She had a very seductive smile and her eyes well her eyes… She moved her thigh again rubbing against mine and asked if I was sure I didn’t want a dance. I said no. She asked if I wanted more than a dance I still said no. She asked what I wanted and I told her to talk just to talk. My answer must have thrown her off – now she knows what I felt when she asked for a straw – and she laughed and took she thigh off me.
“What’s your name?” She asked
“Rack. Yours?” I replied
“Chelsea, you can call me Chelsea.” She said.
I wanted to make a joke about the EPL but something told me she might not take it kindly so I laughed.
“Your name. You’re lying.”
“How do you know?” She asked
I told her I just knew. I asked for her real name and she wanted to know why I was interested. She was apprehensive and said her real name was personal. So I asked her why she’d be wiling to do a dance on me and even do more than a dance but not divulge her name. After a lot of convincing she told me her real names – I promised not to tell anyone so the secret stays between us. A series of questions followed about her life and how she ended up taking off her clothes for money so on and so forth.
“You’re getting too personal. I don’t like it. Who are you?” She said this time her voice a tad bit harsh
“I’m a writer. I tell stories.”
“You want to tell my story?”
“No. I just want to tell my story and you might be in it.”
“Okay but enough with the personal questions.”
“Would it make you feel better if you asked me personal questions?” I posed.
I could see this caught her off guard but from the look in her eyes I could see she was contemplating it. I could see the little cog wheels spinning in her head until she smiled, put back her thigh on my leg and said she’d love to ask me questions. She was interested in what I do. She asked if I wrote for a living and I laughed. I told her not yet but I hope to someday. I asked her what she hoped to do someday and she went silent.
“Definitely not this.” She said
“So what’s your endgame?”
“What game?” She naively asked.
I had to explain what I meant and I could see her cheer up.
“Own a business. Preferably a botique selling clothes and weaves. You haven’t told me what you do.”
“I help people” I clumsily said
“Can you help me?” She asked.
We spent the next thirty minutes on my phone working out financial projections of how she’d finally get to own her boutique. She divulged how much she makes in a night and we drew up a savings plan.
“You’re good with numbers.” She said
I found out she’d been dancing for two months. Her story like any other was a sob one.Trouble at home, siblings to care for, absent father dying mother and cruel relatives. I could tell she liked me for once she wasn’t objectified or treated like just a body for someone’s sexual gratification. She had a conversation and it was different. She was quick to mention that I chose the wrong place to have it that I should’ve been more tact. She suggested I we go upstairs where it would be more private and we could talk some more but I knew going upstairs meant parting with a significant amount. I might be the “dumb” guy talking to a stripper in a strip club but I wasn’t stupid. I wasn’t going to pay to talk and I wasn’t going to do more than talk so I turned down her offer. She asked me why and I said because I’m good with numbers. She laughed.
“I have to go.” She said as she finished her drink
“Can I ask why?”
“Because I’m also good with numbers. Staying here with you won’t make me any money.”
I smiled at her wit. She had such a can – do attitude. So I watched her leave right after assuring her I did not want the lap dance even if it was free. I don’t know where she went after that or if I’ll ever see her again. But I do hope that one day she does open that boutique and she can talk about that guy who she suspects is gay who only came to a strip club to talk.