I love Lagos nightlife. Nothing excites me more than the moonlight, the music, the mini dresses, and the sense of limitless enjoyment. During the day, you’re a professional making six figures a month at an investment firm, or a law student in UNILAG trying (and failing) to maintain a 4.0 GPA, but the sun goes down and you can be anyone you want to be, with false lashes and a dangerous pair of heels. There is so much to love about it.
I remember the first time I experienced the euphoria of Lagos nightlife. It was a night in February 2021, and I felt the heat, the danger, and the vibrations of the city buzz through me. That experience left such a big impression, that after I returned home that night, I couldn’t sleep till 5 am. I spent time chronicling everything I had seen and felt.
This is how it went:
My day was already filled with so much activity. I had already visited about seven locations to carry out various tasks: get my hair done, get clothing measurements with my in-laws, change money, eat, chill, etc. when my cousin decided to take me and a few of her friends to W Bar for the evening.
I paired a denim dress with white sneakers and left my hair out in cornrows. I thought this was a defiant act, wearing cornrows, and I felt pretty darn confident as I sat shotgun in the car. On our way to the venue, my cousin poured me a glass of champagne which I chugged in full swing, and by the time we arrived, I was seeing stars. It goes without saying that I love wine and all her relatives. I love the way she makes me feel, like colouring a little outside the lines.
We were led to our table reservation and after a few minutes of attempted sobriety, I excused myself to pee. With alcohol came the inevitable downside—the constant peeing that felt like when an unwanted guest visits your parents at home, and you’re forced to leave the living room because you cannot stand their intrusive questions and greedy eyes.
At the restroom, I stood outside a cubicle to stare at my reflection. A woman waltzed in to brush her hair and fix her outfit. She appeared to be in a hurry. Again, I was reminded that restrooms in public places are rarely places of rest. They are lifelines, sizzling with the tension of wary eyes picking out flaws with clinical interest. Buzzed out of my mind, I smiled at her reflection as another woman walked in and pushed open a stall I hadn’t realised was empty because I was too busy being out of my mind. This oversight made me chuckle. There I was, pressed as fuck, staring at my reflection in the mirror, while an empty cubicle was behind me. I found it hilarious.
As more women came in, I couldn’t help but notice stunning they were, with their shapely bodies squeezed into body con dresses, long wigs and well-manicured nails. Besides them, I felt ordinary and sweet, like a vanilla milkshake. Briefly, I made a mental note to invest more in my appearance, one that was quickly tossed into the bin as soon as it was made. “The presence of another woman’s beauty does not mean the absence of yours,” I reminded myself, holding onto a quote I had seen on Instagram.
I waited for everyone to be done before I peed, then walked back into the outdoors fancying myself a model waltzing back into a room after a bathroom tryst with cocaine. (Why this thought occurred to me I attributed to my escapade with Malcolm and Marie some nights before).
“I need to eat something,” I told my cousin as soon as I sat down, and she bought me fries and shrimp. It was delicious but overpriced and terribly small. This, I would soon come to realise was the reality of food in Lagos restaurants. It was disappointing, but I comforted myself with the knowledge that there was rice at home. Little by little, my cousin’s friends trooped in and I was introduced and reintroduced to all of them. The night sat and watched us all, palm in chin, as bottles of Jameson and Glenfiddich were brought out with chasers. “I asked for Redbull but they keep sending powerhouse to this table,” somebody said, as another asked for the ice bucket to be sent her way. Shisha was introduced to the mix and I was swooped into the reverie of it all.
That was where I realised I was a sucker for experiences, for life. Of course, I had always known this, but at that moment it felt more truth than it had ever felt, like retracing chalk letters on a blackboard, or a child’s first time wearing glasses and seeing more than the suggestion of things. To date, people-watching entices me, and I can spend a good chunk of time doing just that and feel splendid.
That evening I had so much fun guessing what types of lives were scattered on the tables around us. The woman wearing a pair of jeans and a pink top with a honey blonde wig talking to a man that seemed way too enthusiastic to be there. The well-groomed man holding the hand of a gorgeous woman who I assumed to be his girlfriend (with Lagos men you cannot be too sure). I remember how she smiled at everything he said, enraptured in their little world. The table of what I thought were programmers, recognized by the awkward hunch on their shoulders, plain white tees and the passion in their gestures. The women, the asses, the long swooping hairs, the bottles, more shisha, and more conciliatory laughter. Suffice to say, I was enamoured by it all. How spaces in Lagos are collections of stories, and how these stories weave into each other, creating an intricate blanket of colours and memories, scents and tastes, secrets whispered into eager ears on lunch breaks the following day, and conversations preceding banged doors and laughter and tears.
Eventually, I decided that I had seen enough, and we took pictures. I felt relieved by this development because while I enjoyed going out, my social battery always had a way of dying after the third hour. After our pictures, we drove out and pulled up in front of a chicken republic outlet. “You want to buy me food too?” I teased, staring at my cousin and her friends. “No, this is a club,” she laughed out. I didn’t believe her until I heard the music and looked up to see massive men guarding the door next to the chicken republic outlet. It was ingenious, this disguise. It made me laugh as we made our way in.
The vibe of the club was different, in a way that thrilled me. I felt, and I’m ashamed to say this, how every girl in a Wattpad Mafia novel must feel, visiting the club to find the Italian boss sitting at a corner, his eyes pinned on her. I also felt exceedingly out of place, with my long jean shirt dress that was more fitting for the previous location we’d been in, that was outdoorsy and PG-13. Vaguely, I regretted not having worn a sequined blue number I had at home. Then again, no one told me we would be visiting a nightclub. This self-consciousness only lasted for as long as it took for the music blaring from the speakers to register in my ears, massaging my brains out. I was in love. I allowed myself to give in, not minding how awkward of a dancer I was. With my cartoonish hands and movements, I swayed to the rhythm.
My cousin once told me she loved clubs so much, and in that moment, I understood why. A club is a liminal space, like laundromats by 7 pm and graveyards after dark. Whatever happens in there is only fiction of your imagination. For however long you’re in that space, nothing is real.
Life is terrible and living in Lagos raises this to the power of four. Hence it’s only natural for people to escape hell every once in a while, and when I looked around the room that night, I could see several people in formalwear, grooving to the beat. I imagined them loosening their ties while walking out from banking halls, and air-conditioned spaces, seeking the reprieve of alcohol and weed and amapiano beats thumping in their skull. People need this, I realized, to feel out of their bodies, to breathe. From my little cushion, I skedaddled out of my bad dancing revelry and simply watched people. The 40-year-old wearing a dad shirt with blue collars, dancing his soul out. A Trey Songz look-alike celebrating his birthday with a group of friends, all good-looking with a semblance of wellness in their lives
Soon, I got tired, more easily than I did at the first location. It was past 1 am but the club felt more alive than ever. Eventually, we decide to leave and take ourselves home. I explained to my cousin how I had felt being out that evening, and she looked at me with the most beautiful smile and told me how glad she was to have been the first person taking me clubbing before any man could.
We both laughed.
I read Her Body and other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado, a collection of short stories that mix realism with horror, comedy and science fiction. This body of work explores the trials and joys of womanhood in a strange, grotesque, and sensual way. I’ve been really slow with reading, but I’ve enjoyed it so far.
I read this article on the intricacies of female friendship and the fatigue that may arise with personality differences. It was very realistic and relatable, and the solutions provided were practical. If you have a friendship you feel is prone to fatigue, or causes you irritation no matter how small, I think you should read it.
I listened to Renaissance: act 1. BEY DROPPED!! And if you can’t tell already I love and admire that woman so much, mehn. I did my first listen last night and it was so good! Guess what I’ll be jamming all week? That’s right. You already knowwwww. The best song on the album to me is America has a Problem, followed by Alien Superstar. But they’re all bangers! And please listen to them in sequence for the first listen because the transitions are amazing, and you will feel transported to another realm where disco and magic intertwine.
I watched In the Mood for Love, directed by War Kong Wai. It’s a romance drenched in melancholy. I couldn’t explain it without spoiling the movie for you, but I found it incredibly lonely. Has a movie ever made you feel lonely? Not in a jealous way, but in a way that made you feel cold? Well, yeah. That’s what this was.
I also watched Crazy, Stupid, Love and hated it. It made me feel really uncomfortable, but I needed to watch something while doing chores. The only thing I liked about the movie was that I finally got to see where this Ryan Gosling meme came from.
That’s all from me. I hope you enjoyed this newsletter.
Have a wonderful weekend! *Blows a Kiss*
I fall in love with you each and every time I read your write up or article❤️. This is beautiful 🥰
i do not think anyone is capable of writing the lagos night life the way you just did. i’ve never thought of myself as one to visit a club, but now, i WANT to.
thank you for your words. they radiate so much energy and beauty- it’s like how you described what wine does; like colouring outside the line.