I cannot remember the last time I had a good night time in Port Harcourt, at least not since my secondary school days, which coming to think of it now, seem like a thousand years ago.
Whenever I was gonna have a lovely night hang out with some of my friends, there was always something that needed my attention.
But this time around, my schedule allowed for some “worldly” indulgences, a rollicking time in one of Port-Harcourt’s finest night clubs.
On that fateful night, I succumbed to the fervent urgings of two old time friends Efeoghene and Obaro who came back from the US and decided to visit Port Harcourt. I’m not sure why I obliged my friends who wanted a taste of night life in Port Harcourt. And as soon as I found out that, not even the legendary James Brown could have saved me on that day as I was completely out of style with the new and current dance steps now in vogue.
As we drove through the Aba Road axis of Port Harcourt, my friends were overwhelmed by the face of Port Harcourt. Street lights, functional traffic lights and lovely landscapes decorated with beautiful lights characterized the streets of Port Harcourt. A sight my friend likened to the beautiful city of Washington Dc.
By the way, nightlife in Port Harcourt is huge. Home to hundreds of pubs and bars, embracing diverse music scenes, Port Harcourt is a great night out 7 days a week. A lot of silent places in the daytime suddenly come alive with music and activities that drag night owls from their homes to hubs, joints and hotels. With numerous live events hosted weekly, you’ll be sure to catch your favourite band on one of the nights.
At this nightclub in the Garden City of Port-Harcourt, I couldn’t help but notice that in these hard economic times in Nigeria, when minimum salary is still N18 000 monthly; when joblessness is the order of the day, in these times when three square meals are nothing but a dream for many, Nigerians could still afford to pay the sum of N5000 as admission fee to enjoy themselves for a fleeting two hours. And the parking lot did much to highlight the perturbing contrast in the Nigerian society.
Indeed, the irony of all ironies. It looked like an exotic car dealership where cars like BMW, Lexus, G-wagons, Escalade, Navigators, suburban and Mercedes Benz of various models were as common and regular as sachet water on the street drains.
Who were these Nigerians who can still afford such luxuries in these times? And on which roads do they drive those cars? In that club, I did not find the government worker, neither did I find the average man who struggles to feed himself and his family. The people I found were oil workers whose checks often came in the green American dollars, once again, proving the fact that the wealth of the nation is only filtering to a select few. I also found young beautiful bright students whose sugar-daddies and mommies gave them the night off. These holidaying students, a majority of them from nearby Rivers State University and The University of Port-Harcourt, were quite a sight to behold. The variety of fashions competing for attention in that club made me re-evaluate my wardrobe status and do something quick about it. Indeed, Residents of Port Harcourt are fine dressers in spite of the low morale and economic downturn.
Our society is definitely a split one –the haves and the have nots. In that club, I saw many of the “haves” who could dish out N50,000 for themselves and their friends for a night of entertainment. Someone visiting Port Harcourt for the first time and seeing all the opulence displayed in that club would conclude that Nigerians are very rich.
The dance steps were as impressive as the Soul Train shuffles. I discovered for the first time that residents of Port Harcourt, in spite of the austere conditions that seem to shackle them, can be serious when it comes to light-hearted activities. Everyone seemed to be indulging in a new step that redefined the concept of dance as I knew it. Even yours truly graced the dance floor to unleash the latest styles from, “Shoki” to the trending “Zanku”. Why not? I was feeling it, I was not about to resist the feeling. It had been a long week and such an indulgence was therapeutic, to say the least. But I soon realized my gross inadequacies in this wise and had to admit the painful and irrefutable fact that I needed to improve my dancing skills.
As I looked around the crowded dance floor, I noticed that the young men and women, most, with GSM phones hanging from their hips and some, expatriate staff on contract with oil companies, were dancing freely, without any inhibition to various songs sang by American artistes including 50 Cents, Chingy, Kelly Rowland, Beyonce, Childish Gambino, Sean Paul with his semi reggae tunes and much more. There was hardly any song that was of Nigerian or African origin played that night. There was no “Sweet Mother”, no Victor Uwaifo tunes, no Sunny Ade, no “Lagos Night’ tunes, no Shina Peters, not even the songs of the legendary late King of Afro Beat, Fela.
There is no doubt that our youths are seriously immersed in the Western culture and it seems that Nigerian musical culture is amply lost on them. Everything about them is Western – their dressing, I mean the assorted Jeans wears, their Nike sneakers, their hairdos, their mannerism – some of our girls now speak like white girls with their “anyway”, “whateveeeeeeeeer “, “it’s like…, it’s like…”, accompanied by ‘Western’ hand gestures, if there are any such gestures. As for our boys, they are “whatz Upppppppp” their way through. The level of ignorance amongst our youths when it comes to Nigerian musical culture is very disheartening. And suddenly, apparently, to prove me wrong, the DJ took to another level by blasting latest songs from our Nigerian acts. I was baffled to see the crowd dance helplessly at the sound of lovely tunes like, “killin Dem” by BurnaBoy, “Bam Bam” by Timaya and other great Nigerian acts. I said to myself, “Aint no party like a PH party”.
Anyway, as the night drew to an end at about 2 a.m., the DJ concluded with a slow song from Celine Dion. Within seconds, everyone was entangled literally. My friends had somehow found themselves two beautiful university girls with whom they were dancing selfishly to Dion’s lyrics. The way they were dancing, one would think they had known one another for years. The girls collapsed in their arms and all I could see were their pampered faces of bliss. I scanned the dance floor and soon found that it was only yours truly, the security men and the bartenders who were not tangled. But that was alright as I didn’t go there to tangle. I simply ordered a bottle of chilled Budweiser and took portions of my grilled fish nodding my head calmly as lovely tunes played on.
As the lovers and dancers navigated their way through Dion’s lyric, the feeling of satisfaction overwhelmed me. I was satisfied that I had impressed upon my friends that Port Harcourt was not all about violence, death, corruption, destruction, etc., as always reported in the media. I wanted them to know that in Port Harcourt, just like in every other city of the world, they could truly have a good time to relax and feel at home.
At the end of the night, it was a pleasant feeling that the people of Port Harcourt are not to be taken lightly in hospitality matters and must be given their dues. What a refreshing sight to see fellow young fellows leaving their worries and headaches on the dance floor and frolicking with so much passion like the end of the world was just a few hours away.
I LOVE MY CITY.