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February 16, 2019

Re-enacting Romeo and Juliet, the balcony seat

Galaxy Club and Butchery, Dubois Road
Galaxy Club and Butchery, Dubois Road

With the most fake holiday in the world, Valentine's Day, on its way, perhaps we need to look at some of the famous loves stories and replicate them locally.

The most famous love story in the world, even more famous that the love between Kenyans and quails, has to be the star-crossed lovers that were Romeo and Juliet.

These are two people who came from different fighting families in Italy's fair Verona. They fell in love and as a result of many machinations lost their lives.

The most famous scene in this play written by a late Englishman is the balcony scene where Juliet emerges from the balcony of her home and starts a conversation with her Romeo when he emerges from the bushes.

This scene, while ancient, can be considered quite modern as it is seen in cities around world everyday, including Nairobi. The balcony scene in Nairobi would probably be very different from what was seen in fair Verona so many years ago.

This is how the Romeo and Juliet story would be enacted in Nairobi. We have many balconies as there are several estates in this city with buildings that have more than two or three floors.

Our Romeo, who we shall call Deno is a college student who meets his one true love, Juliet, who we shall call Caro (the most common girls' name in Nairobi) when he goes to worship at Mavuno Downtown Church on Sunday.

Caro is a young college-going girl who is home for the holidays and the family is watching her like a hawk. Every adult in the house is on the ball where she is concerned.

This is because she is at that time in her life when every hungry young man in the estate is very following her movements with the hope that they might get her attention.

Their interest in Caro are unwelcome because as far as her family is concerned, these are the kind of people who would make her pregnant then deny knowledge of her existence.

After the church service, Deno asks his love to hang out with him but she is shuttled back to her prison home and he is forced to do some crazy things.

He goes to her apartment block so that he can get either her Facebook name or her phone number for WhatsApp purposes. Deno has some serious things to contend with as soon as he gets to said building.

First he tries to negotiate with the security personnel of the apartment block either with cash or phone credit so that he can access the building. As he sits below the building looking lovingly at the first floor where his one true love is, he gets into serious trouble.

He can see her but not very well as there are clothes on the washing line blocking his view. Eventually he sees his love through some clothes and she is speaking on her cellphone as she looks furtively inside to see if anyone is listening.

“So that Deno guy I met is so cute. Pity my mum could not allow us to exchange numbers or even Facebook names,” she will be saying on the phone. After listening to the person on the line she will answer back.

“Oh he is so cute. He looks kidogo like my Idris Elba imagine?”

As she speaks, Deno will gather some confidence and yell up.

“Hey Caro! Ati I look like Idris Elba?!”

She will look down at him and yell: “Haiya. What are you doing down there? Kwani you are stalking me?”

“No I am not!! I just wanted your Facebook name. Si you know how there are many Caros on Facebook!”

As he is shouting looking up, a gentleman appears from nowhere on the same balcony yelling.

“Who are you? What are you doing down there speaking at my daughter? If you want to speak why aren't you using the door? Kwani wewe ni mwizi ama illuminati?! (Are you are thief or illuminati?) Maasai nani huyu hapa chini? (Security who is down there?)"

Deno will realise that being down there isn't such a bright idea as he will be disowned very fast by the same guy he was buying Sh100 credit so he will take off and look for another Juliet. Thus the balcony scene will not lead to the death of the two Mavuno Church lovers. Can I get an Amen?


Venue review

Galaxy Club and Butchery, Dubois Road

The Nairobi drinking scene has been evolving at a very rapid pace. The new set of drinking places fashion themselves as lounges and grills and offer a better drinking experience with luxury at the centre and highly-priced drinks.

But if you think that the old school Kenyan bar is extinct in Nairobi, think again. Take the Galaxy Bar in Downtown Nairobi for example, which I visited on Sunday afternoon to have a cold beer and watch the Liverpool match.

I had to go up three flights of very narrow stairs so those on wheelchairs need to forget about this place. The venue is a large room with an indoor balcony which is fashioned as the smoking section.

At the ground level there is a counter, a stage with a drum and some microphones. At one corner is the butchery where people were cooking with pots and pans. I ended up at the counter where the extremely friendly waiter gave me a cold Tusker at Sh160.

Not too bad. On inquiring about the band equipment, he told me that it was used by a one-man-guitar singer and his drummer on a regular basis. I wouldn't mind coming back to hear if the unnamed singer was any good.

The walls had murals from decades ago that included a goat and a couple dancing. The pub has the distinct “makuti” feel that so many pubs and bars avoid nowadays but were so popular in the 1990s.

The seats were not up to standard but of different make and colour; even the high bar stools were of different kinds. The roof was covered by a large red/maroonish cloth.

The crowd here was mainly composed of men in their late thirties and a few young women accompanying them. The game, which was sad for Liverpool, was on. Sports enthusiasts, especially of the English Premier League variety, would love this place.

I was seated at the window as the game went on and I chatted with some very friendly Manchester City fans (who knew they existed?). After looking around for some time, it became clear that if anything untoward were to happen, I would most likely lose my life with those difficult stairs and no sign of an emergency exit.


A quick recap of the venue;


Decent service, central location, fairly-priced drinks, sports fans catered to.


Washrooms need work, emergency exits not clear, disability unfriendly.

My verdict

It is a good place to hang out if you are a mature guy in need of mature company. You can reach the writer on twitter at @jamesmurua

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