Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Zouk Club Experience

Last weekend, I went to a Zouk club for the first time. It was a Haitian event. Africans are not very different from Haitians if you've come across many of the latter. The whole experience was quite interesting. I needed all but 3 minutes of entering the club to decide that I would be blogging about it. The story is as follows, we'll pick it up from the first hint of attending the club.

After we saw the movie, I was in the mood for some more enjoyment. She suggested the Zouk Club down the road. I had never been to a Zouk club before and the prospect of going to a club that would play some African music was too good to turn down. I had attended one the weekend before in New York, but this was Boston. She said she had to sleep early so she couldn't join me.

I proceeded to make some phone calls to figure out which friend of mine will join me to go to this Zouk club. I thought of this girl who loved Kizomba and I had tried to reach all weekend. Perfect opportunity to meet. I couldn't reach her on the phone. My buddy whose place I had been crashing at was not interested. Another buddy who I had promised to hit up when I came to Boston seemed like the last option. I reached him on the phone but apparently, the call had gotten to him too late. No problemo. I decided to descend on Pearl alone. To prepare, I started listening to my Zouk playlist on my iPod while singing along.

This Zouk club was in a nice location in downtown Boston. I hadn't forgotten the incident in New York the weekend before. I had a nicer jacket on, and besides I heard this was a Haitian event, countless black people like me would be representing. I asked the security man if the club was jumping, I needed more encouragement to cough up the 10 or so dollars. His response was encouraging so I moved on into the building and proceeded down the stairs to Pearl. When I got there, I realised a sign saying: "$10 before midnight, $15 after midnight". Instinctively, I checked the time and it was 12:25am. I pleaded with the ticket seller to let me pay $10. "I am from out of town and I just heard about this place today from a friend. I love Zouk music very much. I like the song playing right now, it's Karolina by Awilo Longomba. I will tell all my friends in Boston about this and you will end up making even more money." The guy agreed to let me pay $10.

I finally entered the club and saw that it was poorly attended. I walked to the bar and asked this Cape Verdean looking bar man to keep my bag for me. Yes, I had a bag, with a laptop in it. It was heavy. The bar man took the bag with no questions asked. I sat down on one of the couches because I wasn't familiar with the song that was playing. I spotted a lady (well, I saw a lot of ladies but I spotted this one) sitting at the other end of the couch. I laid my coat down and walked to the edge of the dancefloor swaying side to side.

I looked around hoping I will see at least one person I knew. I couldn't recognise a single person. I know a good number of people and Boston isn't exactly home to a lot of Black people so why was this the case, I didn't know. I had been in the club for 15 minutes and I hadn't danced or said a word to a single soul. I began smiling and laughing. I can't explain why. I picked an unsuspecting male, walked up to him and tried to network. Turns out, he's one of the promoters of the event, it was a weekly Haitian party/event where they rented out the club. There was a similar event somewhere else in Beantown and coupled with the rain, the attendance was low. We talked for awhile till his friend came by.

After our conversation, I decided to go and talk to this lady I had spotted. I summoned all my confidence and took a seat near her. I greeted her, asked her her name, where she was from, what kind of music she liked, etc. "I'm from Boston". Okay, so she's not African or Carribean. Brain lock. What else can I ask her now? Trouble. I managed to continue the conversation for awhile till she said she wanted to go take a walk. Minutes later, she was dancing with some dude and having a jolly good time and I was wondering why I was still sitting there.

After she danced with this dude, she came back and sat right next to me. Hmmm. No, she hadn't left her purse with me or anything. We talked a little longer and she asked to go take another walk. Again? Is this to the restroom too? Is this some fashion event? You can guess what happened. Next time I saw her, some guy was asking her to dance and she obliged. Was I just talking too much? Should I have offered her a drink earlier? Asked for a dance earlier? Because I was probably going to do the latter at some point.

This is when I requested the time from one of the security guys. 1:20am. Still hadn't danced, all the music played so far was some unfamilar Zouk and Kompa. A black lady walked up to this white man in front of me and asked for a dance. Ewo! Where I go bed last night? The white man was hesitant which had me thinking, "Ah, if this guy doesn't want, lemme go and ask this lady eh?" Before I could collect myself, the white man was headed for the dance floor with the lady. I had spotted a couple of ladies chatting. I had chosen one but I wanted a wing-man. Was it because I was wearing an African shirt? How did I get bypassed like that? The white man was even busy talking to someone.

I spotted a couple of ladies chatting. I chose one to ask for a dance but I wanted a wing-man to entertain her friend. Eventually, someone started talking to the lady I hadn't chosen so I swooped at the opportunity. The lady said 'no', saying the club was about to close. "I am from out of town and I haven't danced all night and it is my first time here". She agreed and my heart sank right back toward my stomach. We danced for a while mostly to Zouk music. Dancing to Zouk music is quite routine, it's not very difficult, it's just not what you use at hip hop, r&b and reggae clubs.

After we parted, I looked around for the Black American lady (Biology teacher) but couldn't find her. She must have left early. I spotted a guy who I was convinced was African, probably Nigerian. Turned out he was Haitian and was based in New York. He asked me to join his friend to go dance with some two girls. I was like 'cool'. His friend: 'not cool', obviously worrying about the prospect of rejection. We were rejected anyway and that closed the curtain on any more dancing. This is a Zouk club, you can't really grab a couple of people and do the 'Willie Bounce'. They started playing some hip hop, dancehall and R&B tracks at the tail end, prominent amongst them was Beyonce's Single Ladies.

When the club closed down, I walked up to the deejay to tell him about Museke.com. I met one more of the promoters who was Angolan. Yay! Another African. I collected my bag, left the club and waited for a taxi. I realised the white man and the black lady were walking with the latter's friends to a car. I thought hey, this white man has 'gathered'. It could have been me. Later, I saw the white man walking away from the lady and her friends and I burst out laughing. Playa hating yes. "YEn nyinaa yaboro pEpEEpE". Oboy will go home alone.

I finally secured a taxi and went home. I wasn't disappointed with the experience entirely. I could have had more fun if I had gone with a couple of friends or if the place had been more populated. Boston has a large number of Haitians but I was still disappointed I didn't see anyone I knew there. I suppose I learnt a few lessons on timing, etc. I knew I just wanted to write about this and share my experience with y'all. Now that I am done writing about it, I don't know if this was a good idea. But if you were me, would you delete all this text? No. So here goes. Post published.
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