Rebuilding Foundations

An exploration of international development work in Africa

Clubbing in Tamale

Last weekend I went clubbing for my first time in Tamale.  To summarize the night right away, I think clubbing is pretty much the same everywhere in the world: a night of drinking, dancing, and sweat.

Our group started at one of the main drinking spots in Tamale: Guinea Pass.  There were about 80 people there: I estimate 15 expats (2/3 girls, 1/3 boys), 3 Ghanaian women, and 62 Ghanaian men.  About half the crowd sat and drank while the other half danced.  At our table we laughed a bit at the expressions of the young blonde girls who men tried to dance with.  They obviously weren’t used to the aggression.  I felt bad for them, but they’ll learn as they get older.  When I go clubbing, I put my hand out a lot and say “No. Stop.”  That night, one of my coworkers came behind me and put her arm around my waist.  I didn’t realized who it was and angrily peeled her hand off my stomach, turning to face her.  “Whoa,” she laughed.  “Don’t break my hand!”

Unfortunately my favourite move of pushing someone away with a middle finger to his forehead doesn’t work here because flipping the bird isn’t a gesture that Ghanaians use.  Haha and I wonder why men often call me rude names when I go dancing with my girlfriends.

Throughout the whole night, I only had to deal with one man at Guinea Pass who wouldn’t go away.  He kept saying “I just want to talk small” and I kept snarling “I don’t want to talk to you!”  He eventually gave up with me and talked to one of the guys in our group, who then acted as a middle-man, saying things like “Are you sure you don’t want to talk to him?  He’s a doctor!  And he DJs.”

“Yes I’m fucking sure.”

From my night out, though, I will now make the sweeping and most likely inaccurate claim that Ghanaian men are less aggressive than South Africans.  Also less racist in the clubs.  Both of these surprised since men here constantly yell “White lady, marry me!” or “Hey Japan! Japan! Come here.”

But back to clubbing.  Guinea Pass is on a rooftop, which was awesome.  Dancing outside is the best.  The “bathroom,” however, wasn’t so great.  It was a concrete-floored room outside near the parking lot with a grate in the corner.  I only peed a tiny bit on my foot.

Guinea Pass closed around midnight we went to another club called Hunters, which has a 10 Cedi ($3) cover charge for men.  It has awesome bathrooms with toilet paper.  I carried in my drink from Guinea Pass (a bottle of tonic water that I’d mixed a 50 pesewas ($0.15) sachet of gin into, but Hunters was empty so we left for the last club, Mike’s.  Mike’s had a 15 Cedi cover charge for men and was packed.  There were more women there, though, than had been at Guinea Pass.

We danced for hours until we were so hot we couldn’t stay inside anymore.  I never finished my G&T.  As I get older, I have less desire to drink into oblivion: I just want to dance.  And I don’t want anyone to get in my way.  Outside, we sat around and chatted for awhile.  We ate the last ice cream out of the soft serve machine, which was glorious.  One of my coworkers had decided to pull an all-nighter because she had to get on her 12-hour bus at 7am on Saturday.  In solidarity, my other colleague and I decided to stay up with her – so we weren’t in a hurry to go anywhere.

We left the club around 4am and some of us ate Indomie (instant noodles fried with eggs, veggies, and pepe) while the others argued with taxi drivers about the fare to drive us home.

We successfully pulled the all-nighter and my colleague got in her taxi to the bus station at 5:30am.  Then I crashed.  Haha I felt awful on Saturday – and I’d barely drunk anything.  By the following Monday I was still a bit tired.

It’s hard to believe I used to do this all the time.  I guess I’m just out of drinking/dancing shape.  Time for training.


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2 thoughts on “Clubbing in Tamale

  1. Hahaha, I love, and so strongly identified with, “I only peed a tiny bit on my foot.” Glad to hear you’re getting back in the dancing game, maybe it’s in practice for Conference 2015? 😉

    Do you find that people mostly take your no’s or refusals seriously, or that it becomes a greater challenge to ‘win you’ or get your attention?

  2. I’d say almost everyone takes my refusals seriously because I’m super, super severe. Did you have similar experiences in Uganda?

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