My local was called Explorer Tavern on Nairobi’s Ole Dume Road. Of course, it is called Calypso Lounge now but I am an X- Generation, and I don’t do very well with change. The people who call it Calypso are those that have only just discovered it.
I still stubbornly call it Explorer because that is how I have always known it for the past 10 years. James does not become Paul because he dyed his hair blonde and pierced his nose, does he?
Explorer was perfect. First, it was a staggering distance from my house. They had the best saute potatoes, cheese samosas and grilled chicken and Wednesdays Deejay Roberto played rhumba nostalgia, the only man from the mountains who knows his rhumba.
At Explorer, you knew everyone; at least by their faces. Never saw a fight once in all those years. Never heard a raised voice in anger, maybe just in inebreded passion.
If you had too much to drink you could safely leave your car in the lot for the night. It is at Explorer that I first saw the biggest [and gentlest] female bouncer in my life. The two barmen were conveniently called Chris.
I saw Alex, my favourite waiter, change so many hairstyles I could almost tell you what he was going through in life by looking at his hair. Nobody ever tried selling you a sweater in the loo, or worse, a mosquito net. It was mature, an extension of the home.
Although change has gradually caught up with it, the bar has not changed much, except only one Chris remains and there are new hippier deejays with very white sneakers and very tight skinny jeans, representing the new zeitgeist. It is more vibrant, busier, and has newer faces.
I speak in the past tense only because I moved houses and nostalgia is the language of the past. I moved much further away and when you move houses you lose your local. You continue to cling on desperately but it is not easy.