Its Wednesday evening and I’m tired from the week already. Is it Friday yet I think as I walk home from work. I see a message from a friend, “Are you coming out tonight to check out the Mubali 6 band at Lit Lounge?” Oh yeah, that’s tonight. My wake-up time is 6am and its all the way in Bukoto across town. I had actually just moved from Bukoto two months earlier and had been to Lit Lounge several times. It was dead every time I had been there although I’ve heard they sometimes get a crowd around 1am. Bukoto had an interesting vibe…very middle class with both Ugandan professionals, working class people, Indians and plenty of thieves. Locals in the area prefer to drink at the tables in front of the liquor store or in random shops around town rather than in any of the large bars. The best thing about Lit Lounge was that they had an amazing Indian chef who made some of the best chicken tandoori in town. I put down my heavy backpack and peered into my fridge. It was empty and depressing. I closed the door feeling discouraged. I contemplated….maybe I should go to Lit for a cold drink and grilled chicken. It’s probably going to be dead like always. I’ll check out this band briefly, eat my chicken, sip a drink and be back home in bed by 10pm. I didn’t really like live bands anyways. I’m more of a DJ girl.
At nightfall, I hopped on a boda, hair flowing in the breeze, the night air waking me up as we weaved in between traffic starting the Wednesday night adventure. As I entered Lit Lounge the place felt distinctly different from the last time I was there two months earlier. It was beautifully lit in soft red, orange, blue and purple colors. String lights hung from above and balloons were on each post. I felt as if I was entering a music video being shot at a hipster gastro pub in West Hollywood. There was a beautiful acoustic sounding guitar playing in the background with a guy singing soulful music. The guitarist strummed the instrument delicately similar to how I would imagine someone would pluck a harp. I became fixated on his hands….caressing the strings deliberately yet sensually. I was daydreaming until I heard Hypeman Paul call my name. We sat on low cushions at a middle table in front of the band. That was another thing I loved about Lit Lounge. It always has lots of comfortable seating and it’s a real lounge unlike every other nightclub in Kampala that has lounge in their name but aren’t really lounges at all.
I sat with friends enjoying the good company. “Where is the band? Isn’t there six of them?” I ask. “This is the second set with only the guitarist and lead singer.” “Oh, cool,” I said. They continued to play and I looked around, took pictures and videos as always. I was shocked how the place was completely full. There were almost no empty seats which I had never seen before. Many people were dressed up in their business clothes from the workday, enjoying a drink and the good music. Its amazing how a good band or DJ can bring a place to life. I sat and ate my delicious juicy Indian spiced chicken and enjoyed the band’s next set. It was a lot of upbeat reggae songs, covers and popular music. There was a group of guys in suits dancing at the table behind me and a group of girls in dresses dancing to my left. People were singing along and swaying back and forth in their seats. It was good vibes in a relaxed environment. In between the next set was an open mic moment that drained the energy from the room. I joked with Hype that he should go up on stage and liven up the crowd a bit. Next thing I knew he was up on stage rapping into the mic with perfect rhythm and no music. The crowd responded immediately and started yelling and raising their hands to his beat. Wow….the crowd is now ready for the next set I thought. The band jammed and most people were dancing on their feet now. It was midnight and the place was poppin. I was shocked when I saw how time had flown. I wasn’t even tired and I was having so much fun that work was the last thing I wanted to think about. The guitarist had a Lenny Kravitz vibe with several amazing rockin guitar solos. The lead singer had a flawless voice and could sing both fast and slow songs effortlessly. The best part was the energy the lead singer brought to the performance. I loved seeing him dance around and wanted to see even more of his moves. I had heard they have been practicing together for a year and I could tell. They were all perfectly in sync including the bass, drummer and guy on the keys. When 12:30pm rolled around, it was time to leave and I reflected on my experience. I was shocked by how good the band was and how fun Lit Lounge had become. The band was much better than I thought they would be and this is only the beginning for them. Imagine where they could go from here I thought.
One major difference with nightlife here in Kampala compared to back home in LA is that it’s a much later scene. Nightlife starts to wind down around 1:30am in LA and its just getting revved up around 1am here. I felt energized. I didn’t want to go home yet and it would be a shame to go home during peak party hours when I could simply go anywhere and take some pics for my website at a time when everyone would be out. Everyone who knows anything about nightlife in Kampala, knows that the best Wednesday late night spot is the Fiesta party at H2O. I have long been a regular at H2O. It’s located on the main strip in Kololo which is the center for nightlife in Kampala. It has the best audience of any of the clubs in Kampala in my opinion. Its mainly outdoors with a beautiful seating area among trees and bushes which are softly lit with strings of lights as well. There is a unique glass bottle fountain and always great dance DJs. The drinks are also relatively affordable. I sip on my fifth Smirnoff Ice as I talk with friends about how awesome the band was at Lit.
My friend grabs my hand and says, “My boy over there has a bottle and table. Let’s go say hi.” We make our way from the outdoor area under the stars to the crowded tall table area below the DJ booth. Everyone is shaking their booties and bumping and grinding. People stare as I’m one of the only white people there. That tipsy feeling sets in and I can feel my muscles relax throughout my entire body. I feel sexy. I feel like I can move more freely. I see the eyes of guys and girls fixated on me. Some curious, some jealous, and some want me. I can feel the energy of everyone around me. The DJ drops a Jay Z beat and everyone dances. We dance. I move my hips with the girls in front of me. Gyrating booties, no flat asses. I don’t know if it’s the matoke or all those hills, but woman here have nicely shaped asses. We bend over together leaning on each other. Hmmmm.. she smells good. Ugandan women are beautiful, perfect skin, toned bodies, and confident shoulders. I believe if I’m truly happy in the moment, I emanate that energy to others and even a hater sometimes cracks a smile at me unexpectedly. I almost always have a positive experience going out here unlike LA where you can encounter mean girls at any moment. I’m addicted to the fun and people of this city…..We bump and grind to the music together with my friend behind me. We dance in unison to the beat of one song after the next. Dick to bootie contact, my favorite way of saying hello I think in my tipsy state. The night heat, sweat, wetness. Wow….its 2am and the party at H2O is just getting started as more people walk down the steps to the dance floor. Its even more packed now and the DJ is on fire. My logical mind tells me that I should go home but I’m too turned on to want to leave. This place is too much fun to go home now. I drink, laugh, and dance and drink, laugh and dance some more. More friends come and I’m so happy to see them….I’m in that loving state where you just want to tell your friends how much you truly love and appreciate them. I look at my phone. Its 4am and the crowd hasn’t even slightly diminished. There is a reason the song Parte After Parte is such a hit in Uganda. Ugandans party all night. Different places have their night but every single night in this city, you can find somewhere to party until daylight. I have never experienced such a thing in the states back home. I eventually get an uber home, say good-bye to everyone and crawl into bed. I cuddle my pillow affectionately murmuring…. “I love you bed. I missed you so much. I look at the clock….5am. Wow…wake up time in 1 hour.” What an unexpected adventure…..