NIGHTLIFE: Before everyone saw nightlife as a lucrative venture, Kampala’s nightlife was limited to specific hangouts and these were the reason Kampala never slept. There were significant night clubs that defined partying in Kampala. Celebrities made names from them, owners made money out of them and partygoers enjoyed them while they lasted. Isaac Ssejjombwe & Lawrence Ogwal take you back to some of the hot hangouts around Kampala back then.
Luzira and surrounding areas have had hangouts such as Bamboo Nest, Miami Beach and Virgin Island, but no place made an impact on the entertainment scene like DV8. It was more than just a hangout for Ugandan musicians and entertainers but rather created a benchmark for them. We are talking of people like Straka Mwezi and Mc Kats who were emcees there, Juliana Kanyomozi, Iryn Namubiru, GNL Zamba, Klear Kut, Benon and Vampos, among others. All these guys started their careers at this hangout, where they did karaoke. It dominated the party places in the 90s and early 2000s and it is said that DV8 last opened its doors on December 31, 2007 with a small crowd who ushered in their new year at the Luzira-based hangout. Reasons for its closure are not known to date but it still remains a special place for most entertainers.
It was a one cold Saturday evening. Some minutes past midnight when Elvis Ssekyanzi drove his car to Kampala Road. He parked opposite Post Office. Usually on a Saturday, you would find him in his office at Club Silk or see him moving about talking to clients, but it was different this time round. He had come to check out a new hangout that many seemed to be frequenting. Months earlier, flyers of Club Sway were splashed on cars parked in front of Club Silk. Sway, which belonged to Rajiv Ruparelia, took Kampala by storm for the three years it was in existence.
Some of the biggest theme nights at Sway were Doctors and Nurses, Campus Night, UTAKE Night and Variety Night. The campus nights that happened every Wednesday, had students picked up and dropped off. The 400-capacity nightclub collapsed shortly after Rajiv leased it as the new owners could not keep up.
Aly Alibhai made a name for himself through Club Rouge. He was the owner of the Jinja Road-based hangout. Fridays and Saturdays were usually their biggest nights and you would find it full by 1am. The nightclub was popular for playing Tekno, House, Hip Hop and a little RnB and Ugandan music.
Alibhai later sold the club after he was asked by his father to fully take part in Tight Security management and also focus on his Talent 256, now Talent Africa management. It was Rouge that made Gareth Onyango one of the best marketing people in this town. As years went by, the club kept changing management and is now called Space Lounge under the troubled management of Dorothy and Herbert Shonga.
Situated in Bwaise just by the roadside, Lions Discotheque was one of the daytime discos in Uganda. You would always find girls and boys in school uniform and was especially busy during the holidays. Drinks were affordable and boyfriends would take their girlfriends out at the spot. However, it was also one spot known for notorious gangsters. No week went by without someone getting robbed or beaten whether inside or just outside the club.
Last weekend, different patrons abandoned their favourite bufundas and they all gathered at Liquid Silk in Bugolobi. It was not an Easter celebration, but rather a trip down memory lane. Patrons gathered to celebrate the good old days of Club Silk. A Club Silk Reunion.
The club was closed in 2016 and the building was taken over by Vision Group. Club Silk was one of the oldest clubs in the nightlife history of Kampala, having opened in 1994. At least every partygoer has a story to tell about Club Silk; artistes Bobi Wine and Chameleone cannot recount how many times they fought inside and outside the club, Eddy Kenzo will remind you how he was bounced there several times because he was a young boy.
Club Silk is known for campus nights, Tuesday performances that saw some upcoming artistes struggle to become big names, among other things. It was like a meeting place for celebrities and big spenders of Kampala. Club Silk owned by Elvis Sekyanzi was divided into Silk Royale, Silk Oxygen and Ocean. These housed different classes of people, depending on your financial standings. Bufundas and drink driving arrests sent people away from these splash hangouts. It is one of these reasons that led to the fall of Club.
Steak Out Bar in Wandegeya was mostly dominated by university students from Makerere, YMCA, Kyambogo and MUBS. It was always full on Tuesdays and Thursday that hosted the Super Tuesdays and Rock Night, respectively. Artistes Bebe Cool, Radio and Weasel were regulars at this place and it also attracted lots on Kenyan partiers. Whatever happened to the place, no one knows but it was sold off and renamed Zodiac Lounge, which was also mismanaged and sold to a Lebanese owner who named it Game Club.
Capital Pub is one of the oldest bars in Kabalagala and after the collapse of many bars, this one still stands. The bar that is located in the heart of Kabalagala is known for hosting ladies of the night and perhaps is the reason it still stands tall. The bar is always full and whereas the women access it free of charge, the men have to part with Shs3,000. Capital Pub, which is also the biggest bar in Kabalagala is known for their numerous pool tables.
Little Flowers on Bombo Road was the place in the early days for those who wanted to see artiste performances. It was known for oldies music headlined by Afrigo Band, who performed there weekly. About 11 years ago, Radio and Weasel held their first ever concert here in 2009 before the place was changed to Club Obligato.
The bar was closed by KCCA shortly after the name was changed and Afrigo Band had to relocate to Old Port Bell Road and later they returned and acquired the place, renaming it New Club Obligatto.
Besides going to watch the Afrigo Band performances on Saturdays, there is no major activity at New Obligato.
Based at Cargen building along Parliamentary Avenue just above former Nandos, Mateos was the first go-to area for most people before they hopped to other hangout venues. The place was usually full by 10pm and their most busy days were Fridays and Saturdays. The place was famous for its good jams played by the late DJ Momo who became a household name in Uganda through the hangout.
Mateos was in existence for more than five years and closed shop about two years ago. It was owned by Humphrey Nzeyi, son of tycoon Amos Nzeyi. The space is now home to a branch of Café Javas.
Club Pa Lui
Based in the basement of Ntinda Shopping Mall was the famous hangout Pa Lui, owned by a Patrick Lubega, a successful businessman. And like Charlie Lubega and Elvis Sekyanzi, Lubega was involved in the day-to-day running of the club that was full on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. He derived the name from combining Patrick and his wife’s name, Louis.
The club attracted many university students as some hostel vans had an arrangement with the club management to ferry students at a fair price.
The club, however, did not last long as it competed with hangouts such as Just Kicking and Fat Boys just around the corner.
About 10 years ago, you did not know a thing about Kampala nightlife if you had never visited Angenoir Discotheque. The club was unique in its way and some of the strong points were the different theme nights but especially the campus night which gave university students access by just show of their student ID or admission letter for the Freshers. A sense of good customer care, Angenoir is one of the places that had good security and bouncers who did not discriminate patrons. They also had a strict rule book that they abided by; no chewing gum, no under 18s and no shorts or sandals. The emergence of many village bars that allowed freedom made the business a little tight and the only way was to reconstruct a high-profile club that allowed convenience and privacy for those that needed it, hence Club Guvnor.