For personal and generic reasons, clubbing in Lagos has never been an experience I actively crave – not with my girls or anyone else. The music is too loud, people are too bothered with being elitist to actually have any fun and you never really know what is in your cup until you wake up in an unfamiliar bed.
Not the grimiest image I agree, but it’s not the glossiest either. So my scepticism was peaking when an old University friend called me up and invited me to an underground dance club in mid-town Surulere. My immediate response was, ‘I don’t know where my night is going, but I’ll text you if there is space on my schedule.” I lied. In reality, I was apprehensive about trotting to the Mainland to dance at an ‘underground club’.
The first red flag was the word ‘underground’. Like that should be a reason to instantly recall all your mother’s warnings about jumping into anything head-first right? The second problem was I had not seen my host in a long time and I didn’t know his intentions for me.
But curiosity got the better of me.
The mere thought of a sub-basement party where sweaty bodies rhythmically meshed into one another and the air smelt like burning wood and liquor gave me a rush. Besides, I just had a boring week, the month was pushing to a close and my finances could only tolerate cheap leisures that wouldn’t dent my budget. So I took a chance and texted him back at the close of work, with “When should I be ready?”
Surulere is not your average town. Not even for the average Lagosian who is already familiar with the blaring horns, yelling bus conductors and clustered buildings many years behind on maintenance. It boasts of two major stadiums, two interlinked malls, a run-down sports club and the infamous Amala Shitta buka – where many have lost their souls to grey morsels of yam flour, overpriced goat meat and dark green Ewedu.
Essentially Surulere is a town where capitalist affluence, culture, poverty and lost history intersect without conflicting. Particularly Surulere has a rich cultural heritage, especially with music. As a child, I remember listening to my mother reminisce about watching Fela majestically perform at a night club in Surulere. More recently Wizkid, 2face and a handful of other Nigerian artistes have affiliated themselves with the town, confirming its colorful sonic origins. But as we pulled into a residential estate with large open grounds on the south of the town’s central Ojuelegba community, all my expectations were starting to appear like they were going to fall flat.
The building we were headed was isolated in the middle of a sandy compound with tall pine trees forming a thick consistent circle around it. We alighted from the car and started walking towards the main house. As I trailed behind my host, I could hear him yammering about something in the news but I wasn’t paying attention. I was straining my ears in an attempt to hear the music, but save for a faint bass drum kick and the whoosh of swaying trees, I couldn’t hear anything else until we stepped into the building and the voice of a sultry singer mooning “Baby It’s Friday ooo” hit my ears like a jack hammer.
Suddenly, I wanted to hear more of his music. The singer’s name is Kamar and he released the “It’s Friday” single off an EP he dropped in 2014 titled The Audition and the biggest shock of my weekend was how his music had literally been in the underground for so long.