If you have ever signed up for Instagram and stayed there long enough (that is two days), you would think that life only happens in Diani or Nanyuki.
But to the average Nairobian escapades to such places often leave a huge dent on the pocket. A man should tag along a babe with a bikini body and act as her personal photographer the whole damn time while clearing bills in their thousands. These babes want exotic places where people chase sunsets as hobbies.
But it really doesn’t have to be like that. A few kilometers away from Nairobi, right on the outskirts is a gem of a town, a little rough around the edges but with some good dusting excuse the pun): It is called Syokimau. It sits in a lake of dust, surrounded by truck drivers and an oasis known as Lounge 254 atop the Gateway Mall. A club that is not in Nairobi but feels like Nairobi, not too far but within reach of a quick Uber ride.
If the mall was a lady – 254 Lounge is the cleavage.
Syokimau was once a sleepy town until the land rush happened. Anybody with access to a bank loan, chama or Sacco went there to buy land. It was arid, the land dead, just a field of dust. The only life roared into it at night when truck drivers parked by the roadside to visit dingy brothels to empty their balls and fill their stomachs.
Then development happened.
Structures started coming up, one after the other, and that’s how Gateway Mall came to be, right off the highway, a testament to Nairobi’s resilience. For the mall to be crowned, Lounge 254 was established. If the mall was a lady – 254 Lounge is the cleavage. Lounge 254 is that escape. Inexpensive, exciting and more importantly it is away from the toxic Nairobi.
The world cup semi-finals start today when France knocks out Belgium and I am avoiding Nairobi because it gets hectic; a rat race which is a competition on who can go the farthest in the shortest time. Then the congested streets like cholesterol-clogged veins swamped by unruly hawkers are annoying. After a while it wears you down, takes you apart piece by piece and ultimately you need a break from it. Now imagine right in the heat of the World Cup Semi-Finals or Euros 2018, as it is a European affair now. There will be no room to breathe in town.
So, my pick is lounge 254.
The place hasn’t deviated too far from the cliché Nairobi bar. When you enter the arrangement is almost the same. You know how the saying goes? If you’ve been to one club, you’ve been to all? Lounge 254 has the same feel to it. There are the traditional bar high seats surrounding a roundtable. To the walls are couches – to give meaning to the ‘Lounge’ part of the name. Then there are screens hanging on walls, nice large screens all positioned in a way that you can have a good view no matter the angle. Also, they have a proper balcony, one of the best in Nairobi, but in this July cold is a no-go zone for me.
Beers come cold. The bottles are sweaty, and they go down nice and crispy. A beer will set you back 250 bob and being mid-month, that is worth worrying about. The crowd is an eclectic mix of people. Youngins with apartments around where they pay 25,000 for a house that’s bigger than a 40K flat in south B. They’ve gathered in their new bimmers, Subarus, and the off Honda Fit to shake off some dust and imbibe.
Since it is the World Cup season expect a lot of footie banter flying around – and not just from the blokes. It looks like Syokimau strips away that feigned class Nairobian women usually wear – here the women will exchange banter and share screenshots of their fantasy football team points.
When it comes to service, your mini-skirt wearing waitress might take long with your order. After all, it is still a club and it gets full. Sometimes they are overwhelmed but they always deliver. I have not tried their cocktails, so I cannot tell you much about that. I will revisit that later and come back with a full comprehensive taste guide hehe. So sorry ladies.
However, guys, for the semi-finals today – go with the boys. Ditch the girls, ditch the beer (ditch the cars to cabs can get you anywhere) and grab a mzinga of your fav.