“Please, if you guys are not interested, do not waste my time,” says a beautiful, fashion-savvy woman at a club in Nairobi’s CBD, with her hands full of fake but attractive shiny jewellery.
“Show me Sh3,000 before we can talk,” she demands.
She looks youthful and street smart. Her admirable curvaceous body oozes a sexy touch and her flirty dress that exposes her essentials say it all.
And so as she sip from her wine glass, she looks up and dares one more time; “Hakuna cha bure.” We pose, our hand shake unhonoured, our offer to join her table resisted.
In another minute, a client walks in and joins her. They chat for five minutes before she catwalks to the wash room to throw on some make up. And when she gets back, with a mocking wink, she waves at us, the new man in her arms. She has been taken for the night.
This is not a scene from 50 Shades of Grey. Welcome to the new reality of the modern club scene.
A few years ago while clubbing in the CBD, a drunken spree would include a few customary minutes of banter with the ladies of the night - cold-beaten hookers on Koinange Street.
Fast-forward to recent times and the population on the infamous street has dwindled, with some of the previous occupants moving to the busier River Road.
It’s what you are thinking! The twilight-hooker business that used to be associated with Koinange Street (K-Street) where university girls used to shine in the night, living life in the fast lane as old men, some of them prominent businessmen and politicians, picked them up for sexual indulgences, has moved.
Now, they are concentrated in uptown brothels of different classifications as the face of the twilight girl changes to a modern girl, the young beauty every other single man would like to take home for weekend sampling.
She is academically smart, she looks the part; the socialite, street-credited beauty you have been ogling on Facebook. Go raid the bank if you want her. She needs to see the wallet. Or better, stay home with your wife, this is Nairobi city.
But the biggest population of these hookers now operate from bars, lounges and restaurants within the CBD. And just like the new laws have devolved services, this nightlife has led to ‘devolution’ of hookers, with Koinange Street, or K-Street, losing its earlier allure for selling entertainment.
At Simmers, along Kenyatta Avenue, the population of hookers far outweighs the combined number of regular revellers and staff. Coming in all sizes, nationalities and shapes, there is something for everyone.
“We can always pretend to be revellers when the police or kanjo (county council askaris) come looking,” Sarah, a Tanzanian with three-years experience as a girl of the night, tells Pulse.
“At Koinange, we were always minutes from getting arrested and also the cold was not good for many of us. Here, we are warm and we can even solicit for drinks and food,” she adds.
In one of the new, pimped out lounges on Tom Mboya Street, a group of smart-looking ladies sit strategically at the far end, always gazing at people who walk in. They look ordinary except they are taking soda water and other light drinks.
The tight, high dresses and overflowing bosoms give them away though. They are here to meet men.
“Those are always here from Wednesday to Sunday. They dress very well and act a bit classy depending on the caliber of customers around,” notes an overzealous waiter, who goes ahead to ask if she can go get the ladies for us.
“They try very much to blend into the scene. Looking at their age, I would say they are college students doing overtime. There are a lot of those in town,” the waiter adds.
Once in a while, they hit the dance floor and move to the latest hit in town. They browse through their smartphones and even take seflies. They giggle and sip. Irresistible male magnets, they are.
Down Moi Avenue, at the infamous Sabina Joy (SJ), which has undergone some serious renovation to standards expected of most new clubs and lounges, sex is in the air from the entrance.
This was the place where every man could get a woman for as little as Sh100, with a packet of condoms in the bargain. But that was in the 90s, now business has gone high tech.
The men spending Good Friday like it is their last day on earth, do not even pretend not to see the display of skin. They occasionally jostle to get the ladies on their tables like it is a competition.
“I prefer coming here because I can drink and get ‘serviced’ at one go. Plus, I can pick whoever I want any time and have manys different experiences on a single night,” reveals an anonymous reveler, who became a fan of the refurbished joint.
In a corridor leading to the lady’s bathroom, ladies of the night line up ‘on display’ waiting for a pick up. Reminiscent of an Eastern European movie, the ladies pull and pinch the men passing by, trying to get their attention. Some even rub their inviting bodies on men who are passing by as a ‘free sample’.
In another corridor, the reception area beckons customers to rooms that go for a small fee for a few minutes.
“The standard rate for a quickie is Sh300... but we ask for more because some men do not even have time to negotiate and quickly agree,” says Susan, who is quite comfortable giving me her pseudonym. According to Susan, who seems to be in her mid-30s, unlike Koinange which relied heavily on luck, posing in clubs like SJ is lucrative because there is always a market.
Every other 30 minutes she is assured of hooking up with a client for 10 minutes. Never mind the frequency...this is like a calling!
“Even if it rains, we are not affected. On Koinange and River Road, the rainy season was always bad for business as even the men stopped coming,” she explains, while strategically directing her humongous, exposed thighs and other strongholds in the direction of the entrance.
“You cannot stay this sexy and exposed outside there in the cold. You may end up in a hospital.” Along nearly all the clubs in the city, our investigations reveal the extent of the changing times.
These are young, well-informed girls who carry the latest phones and look dapper in the latest fashion trends.
Forget the stereotypical sight of a pot-bellied, middle-aged lady with figure-hugging clothes and a bad weave, the modern-day, club-hopping prostitute looks in sync with any fun-loving, urbane chic. Forget your wife, they will give your 18-year-old clande a run for her money.
“Hao wanyanye ndio tuliachia Koinange na River Road (Those grandmothers are the ones we left on Koinange and River Road),” Ann, a cocky prostitute who confesses that she loves iClub, tells me while peering at the menu to order for food, on our tab of course.
Next to her is calm friend called Stacy. She doesn’t speak. Gazing and tagging along she laughs and nods at the silly jokes being peddled as the night wears on.
She adds that there is less money on the streets since one cannot evaluate a client well enough as opposed to the club where you can glean a lot of information from what the client is drinking and how they are paying.
The modern reveller is conscious of his tastes and prefers picking a prostitute in the club or just calling one up.
“They have money and they buy you drinks first before you can leave with him. Plus, I am both working and having fun like anyone else in here,” remarks Ann.
Ann confirms that the stereotypical prostitute of yore cannot survive in the city centre, where people are more conscious of who they are seen with and where.
“I like being around beautiful women who are not nagging and who know their place,” says Andrew, a self-confessed bachelor with love for the nightlife. When we meet him at iClub, he is sitting in the middle of a bevy of beauties.
“I will only have sex with one, but the others add to the revelry. I am footing the bill and I will do the same tomorrow with another group. Whenever I am in a club, I have to make a statement,” he adds.
Susan thinks that prostitution will in the next few years force most clubs to have accommodation or arrangements with boarding and lodgings because of the instant requirements of the men who rave in the city centre.
“Some of these are people who must go home to their wives and girlfriends. They want to drink and have sex without a hustle and leave for home satisfied. That is why Sabina is popular. Hapa ni one-stop-shop,” she explains, before singing along to a lingala song while shaking her curvaceous body.
While attending the Airtel Trace Music Star grand finale in Naivasha two weeks ago, the buzzing Nairobi night life was a point of discussion with a visiting Zambian delegation. While explaining that strippers are unheard of in the South African country, the two were in awe of Nairobi and how cheap and easy it was to get entertained.
“All the clubs we went to, there were eager girls who were ready to party and go anywhere with us. We loved it,” they said. At the XS Millionaires Club, the strippers can easily shift from light beer to expensive drinks depending on the generosity of the buyer.
“Since we operate from clubs, we try to be versatile and drink anything we are offered. It is all about acting the part, even if it involves visiting the ladies every few hours to induce vomiting,” says Sarah.
“Men like it, so we do it to earn a living and at the same time have fun,” she notes.
Besides clubs, the twilight girl has also moved to different shopping centres and estates in the city. From South B, Ngara, Highrise, Ngumo, Nairobi West, Langata, Zimmerman, Umoja and Mlolongo where we visited, the trade is thriving with designated streets and spots becoming popular for prostitutes.
But it is not always pleasure. Sometimes the girls hook up with the wrong men who rape and leave them for dead. Sometimes the girls turn out to be thieves who lace your drink before fleecing you of your valuables.
Ask men who have woken up in city lodgings only to find that the woman has disappeared with everything including their clothes. It is a double-edged sword this twilight business...welcome to Nairobi.