Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Party Hard: Clubbing in Ghana

Photo courtesy of Dimitri...all the body

While packing and envisioning my summer in Ghana, I was sure I’d spend every evening hidden away under a mosquito net in my room since I was convinced that being out on the streets at night was too dangerous to even risk it. I was also sure that Ghanaians also didn’t leave their homes at night, so a city nightlife would be completely nonexistent. However, at the same time, I knew that Ghanaians would have a innate sense of rhythm and everyone was probably a natural dance phenomenon. I unfortunately couldn’t connect these two ideas in my head and was completely unprepared for the vibrant clubbing scene in Kumasi that the medical students introduced me to.

Some of the most popular clubs that we frequented in Kumasi include Genesiz, Vienna City, and Café Masarati. The clubs are all fairly spacious and unlike the clubs I’ve visited in New York, Boston, Chicago, Ann Arbor, and LA, they are never very crowded— something I actually prefer. A typical night out begins around 11PM with pregaming. Since drinks in the clubs are similarly more expensive then on roadside bars, the concept of pregaming also exists in Ghana (interesting fact: pregaming is known as foreplay in Norway).

If you are a beer drinker than Ghana’s own Star Beer is very popular. For mixed drinks people like myself, vodka, gin, rum, whisky, and tequila are available, but it’s rare to see people drinking mixed drinks. After pregaming we all head to a club. Clubs don’t liven up until around 1AM and the night doesn’t really begin to wind down until 3:30AM. This is very different from the strict Puritan 2AM closings in Boston.

The music in clubs is about 70% local music: Ghanaian and Nigerian hits. Even though the music is completely unfamiliar, it’s not difficult to blend right in since the beats and rhythms are just like the hip hop and R&B hits played in the US. Unfortunately for Lady Gaga fans like me, you will never hear her music being played in clubs in Ghana, even when you request it. The music played complements Ghanaian dance and Lady Gaga just isn’t of the right swagger. Ne-yo, Usher, Chris Brown, and Rihanna are popular foreign favorites. I had absolutely no idea who Justin Beiber was before leaving the US. But, this 14 year old pop sensation has made it to Ghana and does get occasional air time.

Dance customs in Ghana are slightly different: no jumping up and down, no big circles of friends, lots of bumping and grinding, almost always guy-girl pair dancing and occasionally guys dancing together egging each on (not in a homosexual way), and sometimes more traditional dance moves are thrown in (not easy to imitate despite the med students telling me that I was getting it). There is almost always an imbalance of guys and girls in the clubs, so girls (who are not prostitutes) are in high demand. The clubs are really not for girls who are shy. I know I tried to make AADT proud :) I was incredibly impressed by all of the Ghanaian med students, especially the guys, in their dance abilities. They all know how to dance really well, which is a huge difference since finding guys who know how to dance or aren’t embarrassed to just try in the US is extremely rare. This is something that I’m going to really miss when I return to the US.

Here are some of the most popular clubbing favorites...I recommend y’all add them into your party playlist!

Thank you for all of the songs Ernest!

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