Numbers game. The more people in a bar, the more alcohol it sells, hence more money for the bar owner. But how do you get people into your bar? Jude Katende writes about the different ways bars lure customers.
We cannot say that it started with Nyondo Pub in Najjanakumbi off Entebbe Road, where patrons were compelled to imbibe 10 beers without dashing to the loos and stand a chance to win the prize of a car. Time and again, managers of bars, nightclubs and other social hang outs have been scratching their heads to come up with ideas that would actually win over revellers in huge numbers.
Theme nights have been over exploited and regurgitated. In our usual copycat style as Ugandans, one comes up with a nice idea and before you know it, every other person with a similar business, call it competition will jump into the fray but will try to phrase the idea differently, to suggest they didn’t copy, talk about saving face.
These days, the creativity has all but fallen short of craziness. Back to the Nyondo craze, who in their straight thinking minds can drink 10 beers without nursing the urge to dash to the Johns? For some people, three bottles are enough. With revellers trying and failing, Nyondo Pub management temporarily suspended the “competition” till December when it will be resumed. At stake is a Toyota Nadia car still very conspicuously “hanging around” the bar’s entrance.
Several years ago, businessman Hope Mukasa had this crazy idea of using curvaceous girls dressed in shorts as car washers. Did it work? Oh yes, which male driver didn’t want to have “optical nutrition” as they had their cars “massaged” with soap and water?
See, even those far from Wandegeya, Kubiri, just opposite Pastor Kakande’s church, where the washing bay was, could pass by. I don’t know what killed the business but the idea really worked as long as it lasted.
Fast forward to today and off Cape Town Villas Road is Fusion Auto Spa. It is at the lower part of Buziga but revellers misguidedly call it Munyonyo! This is not your average car washing bay. Let’s call it a hangout of sorts and more. Here revellers mingle with car owners and pedestrians alike. You can access it by boda boda or taxi. You don’t have to own a car to be granted entrance.
Patrons come from nearby Munyonyo, Ggaba, Bunga and from Kampala among other places. They converge here to have fun. Some of the fun includes bikini clad car washers. However, these girls are not employees of this place. They are hired by management to entertain patrons on Saturday as their cars are washed or as they partake of food and drinks. The girls, usually about four or five gyrate in what would pass off as sexual dance routines amidst cheers from some revellers.
Some revellers come with just these girls in mind. “I just come here to see these girls, just for the fun of it,” says Peter Mukisa (not real name), a reveller from Kampala.
El Classico is a bar in Bunga off Gaba Road. Although quite inviting in look, it seems like client turn up needed to be boosted with something else. A pool table, DStv, roasted meat and quick service are things some patrons are used to.
So every Tuesday, from 10pm, bikini clad dancers climb atop loudspeakers and gyrate provocatively amidst some excitement from mainly male patrons. There are simulations made especially when the girls decide to “punish” the male patrons randomly chosen.
The night I was there, a young man was “punished” by three girls in different turns. “That one is finished, his day tomorrow has been spoilt not with all those bisirani (evil spells) “dished out” to him,” said a patron standing next to me jokingly.
Apparently when they touch you and do all those wild things, it is like an evil spell is cast on you to have a fruitless day thereafter. Their outfits include socks and some wear wigs and small masks to hide their identity. They seem to enjoy what they do going by the smiles they flash when gyrating.
Some stubborn patrons touch them as they dance while others just look on and comment. When done with the first session which takes about 30 to 40 minutes they leave and come back later. Some change into bras and panties and not necessarily bikinis for the new session and also change dancing positions.
Actually what is done here is exactly the same thing done at Fusion Auto Spa if you go by the “costuming” and dance styles. I have not been to strip joints before where kimansulo is performed but some revellers say bikini dancing passes off as clothed kimansulo entertainment. “This is similar to the real thing. The only difference is that these ones are wearing something,” says a male patron who chose anonymity.
Although patrons drink as they do on other days, one has to be a regular on Tuesdays to see if really there is a co-relation between the dancing and beer sales of the night. The night I was there for this story which also happened to be my first, I didn’t see dashes to the counter or plenty of orders being made. I left at midnight so I can’t verify what happened much later. However, it was clear to me, that the night is popular if one were to go by the men who walk in after 10pm.
Although this crazy idea is not a new thing for some hang-outs, it could be new to folks here in Bunga who have been known for being laid back. Other places such as Club Silk and Rouge have had similar acts long ago and are looking for new ideas. The days when bikini clad girls would do pole dancing were really popular nights at Club Silk.
Male and female revellers kept time to catch the action and invites to the once in the month event were a must-have.
Isabella, a bar in Makindye has a day in the week when it hosts a local comedy outfit that “entertains” revellers with what they call “Embozzi etazimba” or unserious talk. Here anything goes, from tricks girls use for gold digging to styles used in bed. They basically talk all night providing sick, annoying and some funny jokes about people’s lifestyles. The comedy night thing is on in several bars around town.
Some bars these days are into promoting Rwandan and Burundian nights where beautiful girls from these countries are supposed to entertain patrons with traditional dances among other things. But it turns out that sometimes, the faces brought forward are indeed of Ugandans and not of the aforementioned countries! Talk about cheating customers.
When you see tables in a nightclub’s lounge with messages such as “reserved” then you know there are some big shots expected to sink in those cushions. The reservations are not made just for anyone though.
The nightclub management usually gets in touch with the prospective “high end” clients and bookings are made for them because these are not your average Joe spenders but really big time spenders.
Some of them even have accounts with particular nightclubs and may not have to necessarily pay cash although most of them do pay cash, usually millions of shillings if they are in company of a big entourage.
It is not just tables and seats that are reserved with waitresses at their beck and call; car parking space is also reserved. When the highly respected client shows up in their supposedly equally prestigious ride, they are directed to an exclusive parking area meant for big shots. For such clients, parking space is never a problem. With a guard on watch, their cars are safe. Talk about holding the client in really high regard and being at their attention all the time, after all customer is king.
Some of you could have seen a hostel bus loaded with university students , usually a bevy of girls arriving at the entrance of a major nightclub during those campus night themed days such as every Monday at Club T1.
These buses aren’t just ferrying in girls for the sake of it. Nightclubs usually coordinate everything with the bus owners so that at the end of the night, both parties are happy. The nightclub hosting a particular campus night will be assured of a high turn up of girls and male revellers will be willing to spend on the girls.
If this move isn’t crazy, then we don’t know what is. At the end of the night though, it makes business sense if the female revellers are ferried right from their places of abode and back after a night of dancing and having fun while the nightclub owner counts his profits.