by Collins Eboru
Only a few years ago – they were the absolute place to be if you were a night-crawler. The atmosphere, the staff, the lay out and most of all, the hype!
Since there is still an evolving night life, where did they call go? What killed the hype and the luster so soon?
Take that ultimate spot for everyone who turned 18 in the ‘09s – 11.45. 11:45/Reloaded/insomnia at Awolowo road in high brow ikoyi, which used to be run by Ahmed Uwhubetine and club heavy weight Akeem Shodeinde was the no 1 hang out spot in, perhaps, West Africa. If you were not clubbing at 45 you had not been disvirgined in the Lagos night life scene. Unfortunately, this spot had to change names 3 times – from 11:45 to Reloaded to Insomnia – all in its fight to stay relevant. But neither that, nor investment from Super Eagles strong man Joseph Yobo could stop it, before it finally came crashing down in 2009 due to failure to pay up outstanding bank loans.
Same way once, no clubbing experience was complete in Lagos without a visit to Club Papas at Kay’s Place. Sited at Akin Adesola Str, it was owned by Lebanese business man Kamal Boustani and managed by Lagos big boy Frank Okamigbo as a favourite for night out spot for celebrities and party riders. Club Papas was one place that used to be filled to the brim with university club boys, and scantily clad, well rocking babes. Though the club was doing well, investors wanted greater returns on their money, this led to shutting down for renovations, and some make shift partnerships with HITV boss Toyin Subair. Apparently, negotiations went sour and so did Club Papas.
Then there was Saga 8! Saga 8 situated along Adetokunbo Ademola on the Victoria Island, the the saga was how quickly this bubble burst, even though it made so much noise. It was run by well know ladies man (well, according to the gossip columns) Lanre Nzeribe with side investment from television veteran Grace Egagbe. It wound down, was renovated, re-christened and re-opened as Aqua 27 by a new management team, and then was promptly washed away.
But it wasn’t all about the mainland. In Surulere’s Ogunlana Drive there used to be the funnily-named Kileleyio. Owned by a ‘funky’ mama with a younger husband, it soon gave life to an area of the ‘metropolis people called uncool. But perhaps’ it’s name told its future: Yoruba for ‘What is this?’, the club soon began to lose it’s magic and customers found themselves asking these questions. There was also Moods night club, hosted atop hot new Surulere eatery Quarterjack. it used to enjoy patronage from the Nollywood stars and very mature audience. Both are now forgotten and shells of themselves. Due to low patronage, constant empty bars and dance floor, the place was converted to a multipurpose hall for events and meetings.
But you see, whenever one talks about clubs, people always mention ‘Cubes’. Is that some kind of joke? Cubes wasn’t ever really a club, despite its VIP lounge, overdose of cigarette smoke and identical hype. Cubes was really a sports bar which had extended exposure because it was located in a mall that, a long time ago, used to be hot. As long as it closed at the ‘innocent’ 12-1am however, it lost its credentials and not even its fair share of album launches and album listen parties could save it. We can safely say the management needed more lessons at creating the perfect clubbing experience.
There are yet others – but there’s no real joy in listing them all. What’s the problem? Some say Nigerians cannot be satisfied and will always want new things. Not true – we still like Mama Cass, Arsenal, and Africa Magic. Others say club managers usually do not like to reinvest their money into the clubs and will prefer to gamble away their funds. Some feel that with the state of the nation, the cost of doing business is just too expensive. Night club owners run on generators all the time thereby incurring excessive diesel cost, they also spend money on getting “popular” bouncers. That’s the tale of many Nigerian businesses. Howbeit, popular clubs start to lose its uniqueness, appeal and eventually the crowd.
Not that it’s all doom and gloom. Bacchus is still standing, and Swe Bar has proven that it’s possible for a night club to never go away. Unfortunately, they are the exception rather than the rule.
By the way, Mr. Onwubetine of 11.45 returned to the business with fanfare and enough hype to make his new club Tribeca the instance favourite for the Lagos Moet-&-Chandon set. But not even the old hands have a tested and trusted formula. Tribeca faded away, and soon he had to change its name to Chrome. Sound familiar? It’s just as your mother told you, things are more dangerous at night.