Waves Lounge: Where you Meet Nairobi without Makeup

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Sometimes you wonder if Tom Mboya Street is deliberately left to develop potholes the same way Tom Mboya statue is left to gather dust and filth at its feet. What’s the connection between Tom Mboya, the man who held hopes of a generation (albeit somewhat naively) and the street named after him, a crowded passage that welcomes a clash of extremes, a riot of hoots and a crowd of forsaken hawkers?

Without camping too much on the historicity of Tom Mboya street, and the parallels it draws with Moi Avenue and Kenyatta Avenue, there is a glaring lack of accomplishment on Tom Mboya. Girls in Nairobi call it downtown and men who make money on the downtown side of the city are forced to cross over to the other side of Moi Avenue to treat their girls with overpriced cocktails and offensive food.

Have we left Tom Mboya street to struggle with tramped down dreams of the man and the disagreements he had with the status quo? Or are we trying to put Tom at his place, to oblivion, the way the Nairobi City has managed to forget Oginga Odinga, arguably the most important man in Kenya in 1963?

Nairobi City turns up at Waves Lounge without make-up, every Friday. Grim faces, hearts with potholes, venom from Mhindi bosses, low wages, unemployment, bad grades, single-motherhood and runaway dads and delayed salaries converge at the Waves for an unconscious celebration and memory of Tom Mboya.

The hustles of Nairobi make it difficult to grab a moment and think about the public spaces and how they are clobbered by poor policy formulation and implementation. For instance, the hawkers who sell their wares along the footpaths strangle the city, and one can only imagine the damage that can be done if a stampede started outside World Business Centre building along Tom Mboya Street.

These issues are hard, and trying to reconcile the individual stories – like those of people like Tom Mboya – and public narratives – like the lackluster Tom Mboya street named after a man who died like a dog running with rabies, requires a drink. So, could we cross over to Waves, on the bad side of Tom Mboya street, opposite the white-haired Kimathi House?

Waves Lounge Bar and Grill

Nairobi City turns up at Waves Lounge without make-up, every Friday. Grim faces, hearts with potholes, venom from Mhindi bosses, low wages, unemployment, bad grades, single-motherhood and runaway dads and delayed salaries converge at the Waves for an unconscious celebration and memory of Tom Mboya.

The club isn’t classy or mediocre, it is okay. The waitresses aren’t perky or solemn, they do their job. But the DeeJay, the DJ is top-notch, and my guess is that he is a true Nairobian, someone who understands the place of music in discontented minds, the place of a good dance in an empty soul and the value of a cold drink to a tired body.

It is in this club where you will find girls from JKUAT, MKU and Zetech, because they know ‘you got to be gallant before you get elegant’. They don’t come here to get a man buying them a drink, no, they have some pocket change and they have dreams. The ones from JKUAT will smoke Shisha to expel the ghosts of complicated calculus while the ones from MKU and Zetech will always ask the question ‘what did I do wrong’?

When you are out to have a needed good time – as opposed to going out for the sake of going – you need efficiency from the service team. The waiters and waitresses at Waves Lounge will be a glimpse away, and they operate with a mantra ‘may your glass never dry’. And that’s the beauty.

Waves Lounge is the ideal place for any Nairobian who has overcome useless insecurities like having to don a fake awe to impress, while inside he is choking with debt. It is a good place for the supermarket attendant who has been on her feet for twelve hours, and all she needs is a moment of madness, to jump to ‘Don’t Worry Child’ by ‘Swedish Mafia’ while sipping her Tusker Cider. Talking about Tusker Cider, that’s a story for another day.

Club Waves gives Nairobi the much-needed space for the existence and thriving of humankind. You get the space to have one of those silly and hilarious conversations that remind you of SpongeBob, as well as the deep talks that make you feel like a Malcom X. The deejay is kind to your ears. It is also the space for the two- left legged dancers. You will not have to worry about knocking a bottle off someone’s hand, because; one, there’s enough space for your circus, and two, everyone here watches their drink well enough, because, mchele.   

While we all wonder about the food that will land on the table in our clubs, Waves Lounge does a good job of taking care of you. With the concern of getting value for your money, the food is good. I know of places where they sell you four measly pieces of meat of your hard-earned money, but this one isn’t one of them. You will be sipping your drink, thinking about lost things, like a job, a contract, or a boyfriend, and a waitress will be smiling at you with a good meal. There beef fry is famously good. What more does one need?

Now that the pockets still have some notes stuffed in them, pay a visit to Waves Lounge and have a drink. You can bring a friend or two because their prices understand your struggles, and then you can discuss the broken politics limping around in the country, or delve into what it would be like to be Vera Sidika for a day. Whatever your choice, remember to give a nod to the spirit of Tom Mboya on your way out. 








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