Until March 2020, a visit to Kisumu would be incomplete without stopping at Octopus club, a paradise for those who love the company of girls while catching a drink.
The place had an array of beauties that one would sample from and it was turned into a one-stop-shop for those interested in girls and who enjoy twilight activities……it was indeed the face of nightlife in the lakeside city.
It was akin to Nairobi’s Sabina Joy as well as other famous red-light district zones and “sex” was readily available for dozens of men who would throng it to quench their thirst.
Established back in 1978, curtains have finally fallen on Octopus Club, the oldest entertainment facility in Kisumu’s red-light district.
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The twilight girls who readily offered company, comfort and sweet endings to men who thronged the joint be it for booze or entertainment are nowhere to see.
“This is the first time in 43 years that we have closed the doors of Octopus. Business has been bad in the last few months and it is not possible to continue running it,” says McTough, the proprietor of the now-defunct club.
McTough flashes a weak smile as he recounts the good times when the club was the real deal in Kisumu and would attract several people and international events.
The proprietor, however, downplays the role played by twilight girls, who took over the premises and would stand next to the club waiting for clients.
“We tried to chase the girls away but the move affected my business negatively because the girls would be meeting their clients here,” he adds, “We just had to make the decision to be a hookers bar.
Waldah Wanjohi, who is a paralegal with Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Program, an organization that supports rights of sex workers says a good number of sex workers have now resorted to more dangerous and risky ways of getting clients. “Since they can’t be out at night because of curfew, they invite their clients to their rented houses or go to where the clients are which is quite risky, bars and nightclubs were ideal, said Ms. Waldah.
“Some sex workers have gone back to their rural homes because they can no longer afford to stay in the city with no income, she added.
David Ouko, a Boda Boda operator, says he would make a lot of money each night when ferrying revelers and the hookers after a night of music and booze. Today, he has very little income as nightlife in the city no longer exists.
Kisumu is just an example of how the covid-19 pandemic has affected the lives of those who eked a living from operations of the nightlife.
And Nairobi can be said to have almost nothing left of its nightlife as famous joints for hookers have been closed thus exposing the sex workers to harsh economic reality.
Most notorious of these was Simmers’ Club right at the heart of the city on Kenyatta Avenue.
For decades, it had played host to city revelers and live Congolese bands, locals and foreigners, charlatans, deal makers and decadent twilight lasses, car dealers, condom sellers, and meat-and-mature traders. The place was demolished and it is now a parking lot and car wash.
Also closed was the famous F1 commonly referred to as the madhouse.
Viewed from the outside, back then, F1 was shaped like a space shuttle pod from the movies and was famous for glamorous girls with their almost naked provocative dressing. The joint is no more.
Peninah Mwangi, the Director of Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Program (BHESP), thinks twilight girls are a vulnerable group just like any other group of workers whose income has been taken away by the pandemic yet the government has turned its back on them. “it is an emergency, these women have survived on their own in dire circumstances for years, now it’s worse,” said Ms. Mwangi. “Government must intervene and provide relief and opportunities for vulnerable mothers including BHESP members,” she concluded.