Saturday, December 08, 2007

A Friday night in Lagos

I fly down to Lagos to see some British friends doing some business in the city of sin and wisdom. We go to Churras for a meat-fest - except of course I sit on the sidelines with black beans, rice and salad as wave after wave of Brazillian-style kebab is sliced onto plates before salivarous eyes.

After failing to persuade the party to hunch down to Kuramo to listen to the Atlantic crash against the shore, catch the whiff of ganga wafting in the breeze and pretend to ignore the dancing girls, we go to the far more corporate option of Soul Lounge at The Palms. It is 70% men, but the music is good. Then we head to Casa. We arrive at 1am and the place is half empty, apart from some young Indians trying to look trendy and some well fed women lounging on the sofas. There are no salsa demons oppressing everyone on the dancefloor.

And then an Amazon appears - a modellish woman who is perhaps only two inches smaller than I. She is with a muscley guy in a rugby top. I introduce myself (she is just a little beguiling) - it turns out she is a Ghanaian model here for a fashion show at the Eko tomorrow. The guy introduces himself as a pimp. For a nanosecond I take him seriously, and start wondering about whether prostitution has finally got organised in Nigeria. The next nanosecond later I realise he is her toaster.

A few more statuesque women make their entrance - looking all sultry and pouty. I guess the day job sticks on the face after a while. More men and women arrive - many of the latter breaking the Lagos dress code with abandon. A shaven-headed woman writhes to herself and to then to her female friend. She is in her body and in her element. It is a joy to watch - as good as Saddler's Wells.

My friend's Nigerian colleague L is sizing up various feminine options. He does this by sidling up to a prospect, then giving them a langorous and on the precipice of outrageous body scan. He does it in such a smooth suave way he pulls it off. The women don't seem to mind. Funny if it was in London it would probably solicit a slap.

I have one tiny hang-up in life, which I decide to finally crack there and then. Much as I love dancing, I simply cannot go up to a woman and start dancing with her - holding my arms aloft, then crouching down around her - like so many Nigerian men can do. Partly its because my height makes the whole procedure awkward - but partly also because of some impossible-to-eliminate English coyness buried several layers down in my pysche. This time, I go for it. L has turned a prospect into a lead (apologies for the marketing terminology, but it does seem apt) and is doing the arms-aloft-and-around thing. So I go up to her friend by the side and start dancing next to her. A wave of self-doubt ripples around me: what are you doing Weate you fool? etc. But I ignore it. She has nice breasts, hidden beneath a cross-over of fabric. She is also tall - nearly 6 feet - which is nice. I hold her hand and we dance for a bit. But then some old skool black-80's pop-funk comes on and she sits down and adopts a bored posture. She asks me to buy her wine, so I do (flipping heck - N1500 for a glass!) Then we dance for a bit longer. L by now seems to be both winning and losing his battle to turn his lead into an account. It is now about 3.30am and the place is packed. Suddenly, my dance partner asks me where am I staying. I tell her the name of the hotel. She replies - 'so you want me to come back with you?' I am in the game now, so I say, 'why not?' She responds, quick as a flash - 'ok but you will pay me 30o dollars.'

Blimey. 300 dollars.

I tell her that is way too much. By now the game has lost its lustre. She whispers something into my ear but I don't hear it properly. We dance a bit more. I ask her why she needs so much money. She replies simply: 'Lag'. This translates as (for those who need the translation): I am a student at the University of Lagos. I have to pay my own school fees. She then says, more sharply, 'look I offered you 100 dollars and you didn't answer, so now I am going.' Ok, that's what she said. She leaves quickly. I am relieved. I roll into bed gloriously unaccompanied, by 4.30am.


simpa,  2:32 pm  

Crazy man, you.

Moni 7:00 pm  

great story :)

Iyaeto 2:28 am  

Hmm Jeremy Jeremy. 300 bucks!!! na wa o.

fdk,  3:38 am  

I hope your wife doesn't know that you pick up random women in clubs?

in my head 9:15 am  

1,500 for a glass of wine seems a steal. After all, star beer which retails at about N150 is sold for
N1000 at bars, pubs and all such enterprises accross Lagos.

Anonymous,  2:20 pm  

'There are no salsa demons oppressing everyone on the dancefloor' - why oppressing?

If you had understood $100 initially would you have brought her back to the hotel?

Bitchy 4:39 pm  

LMAO at "I simply cannot go up to a woman and start dancing with her - holding my arms aloft, then crouching down around her", and at the reasons you gave for this. For some reason, I cannot picture you as a dancer, especially not as a good one. This is not to say that the razzoid moves you described constitute 'good dancing' but you no what I mean. Is there video footage you can share?

CATWALQ a.k.a LAGBA-JESS 7:26 pm  

Jeremy, your exploits when the Mrs is not looking is funny as hell.
You sound like a quiet guy, more given to voyeurism than partaking...

Fred 9:18 pm  

Ah ah, dis man na real ashewo O!
Right on, doc! More power to you… as long as the missus doesn't kill you, let's know of any future ‘dates,’ will you?

Blue 11:46 am  

Oga, no let madam catch you o!

Jaja 12:03 pm  

Why you slack na.. eh Jeremy?

Anonymous,  10:48 pm  

dude! i thought your ass was married...happily

Sandrine 5:25 pm  

I do not believe one minute that this actually happened or at least that it actually unfolded the way you said it did.I think that like any writer, you could not resist a good story when you saw the opportunity.Nice writing.

Janada Vandu 12:44 pm  

Ok, I thought you were married!!!
I lived in Lagos for a significant part of my life and even I did not know that "Lag" translated to .........

Anonymous,  3:34 pm  

"To the man-in-the-street, who, I'm sorry to say, is a keen observer of life,
the word 'Intellectual' suggests straight away a man who's untrue to his wife." - WH Auden

A bit late in the day, but I came across this quote and it reminded me of this conversation... Not to imply Jeremy, that you are untrue to your wife in any fundamental sense or according to your lights or hers, just that the rhyme appealed.

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