The experience of clubbing has undergone a huge transformation in recent years.
At the beginning of the 1990s, Nairobi’s CBD hosted up to five different nightspots, popularly known as discotheques.
Most of those clubs closed down by the end of that decade as the entertainment tastes evolved into a concept that incorporates bar and disco all under one roof.
Few of the current clubs enforce a dress code as happened in the past, while the membership or cover charge was replaced by free entrance.
The Dolce Club on Nairobi’s Koinange Street, one of the few clubs in Nairobi that still survives from that old era is celebrating its 25th anniversary with the opening of a new lounge.
“It is remarkable to have a club that enjoys the longevity that Dolce has, while retaining the same name,” said Treasury secretary Henry Rotich.
Mr Rotich last weekend officially opened the Dolce VIP Lounge at a ceremony that brought together some of the old patrons of the club and a new clientele who were stepping into Dolce for the first time.
Mr Rotich recalled that when the club first opened in 1992, he had just completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Nairobi.
“It is fantastic that Dolce has managed to keep up with the changing times because very few establishments that existed 25 years ago are still in operation today,” he said.
Dolce was started by Habib Omar Kongo, a seasoned operative within Nairobi’s entertainment circles who had previously been a director at another club, Lipps, that was located on Moi Avenue in Nairobi.
“This is a club with a spacious dance floor just like we had in the old days,” said Mr Kongo.
“Our clientele has plenty of room to shake a leg to the music comfortably.”
The new VIP Lounge offers a more comfortable sitting and dancing area complete with a performance stage for a live band.
The club has introduced theme nights with karaoke on Tuesday, reggae on Wednesday, and the KECO International group, the resident band, playing rhumba on Thursdays. The other nights will feature a mix of African and international hits selected by the club DJ.
Mr Rotich said Dolce’s assorted menu of African music appeals to a mature clientele seeking entertainment in a conducive environment.
“This is an ideal spot for people like me who cannot hang out at the venues where the youngsters are enjoying themselves.”
The Dolce is an exclusive members club, catering to among others, business people, professionals, diplomats, artists, local and international tourists.
“This venue is a perfect meeting point for young executives and professionals to network in a setting that suits their tastes,” said Topi Lyambila, a veteran broadcaster who is the club’s entertainment consultant.
“Everything, from the music to the décor, is designed to appeal to elegant standards,” he adds. Membership is open to both individual and corporates.
Dolce has also entered into partnerships with international clubs to allow its members to access similar entertainment facilities wherever they travel around the world.
For a start, Dolce Club members will also have access to the Biblos de Paris, a club located in Paris, France.
“The expansion of the club’s facilities and its location in Nairobi’s business district with no less than 25 banks will attract high quality clientele,” said Mr Rotich.
Such a move, he added, was good for tourism as it will draw local and international guests who are looking to get the best value for their money.
The Dolce will also host appearances by special guests, ranging from artists to DJs.
Last Monday, the visiting Spanish DJ Paco Perez, who was a household name in Nairobi during the disco era, played a special set of soul and funk at the club. There will be a programme of special events taking place until the Easter holiday of 2018.
“The celebrations are not just a one day affair but an entire series of events for members to enjoy for the next several months,” said Mr Lyambila.
Dolce Radio 1 (Africa’s Rainbow), an online radio station that is currently being tested for a 2018 launch will enable the club to connect with a global audience with a mix of music, requests and a range of other entertainment content.
“These celebrations are a chance to thank our members who have supported us through the years in keeping the dream alive,” said Mr Kongo.