Dagos Bar: The Artist Run Bar & Venue
As a kid, being a dreamer sounded interesting because that’s how i knew Martin Luther Jr. As i grew up, my dreams of being a dreamer got disrupted by the realization that dreams require constant and well informed input to be valid. Now fully grown and still dreaming, I’ve started to live dreams of both my own and other people’s.
In my teenage quest to be the best drummer, i put in a lot of work including Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour theory of success. Before i knew it, i was being considered one of the best drummers around Nairobi yet i didn’t feel like the best drummer around. There was no Coke Studio, progressive musicians or resources to get what i needed. We were mostly judged against YouTube drummers and i loathe sounding like other people. The best singers and musicians were found in churches and Blankets and Wine was the epitome of everything. As the top event, all musicians wanted to play Blankets out of boredom and very little efficacy. You didn’t become a better musician, or make more money. So i quit the gig market and enrolled into media school at 23 in search of meaning for myself and people like me. People who want to constantly be on the move.
Five years later, I’m still a beast on the drums, a cool journalist and holding a little beacon of hope for my kinds of people. I started #NU three years ago to shine a big, fat, bright light on Nairobi talent. To fill in the gaps between creatives and their full potential. To enable a world beyond pulpits and the few highly contested events. To help them minimize the setbacks, disappointments and heartbreaks that come with being an upcoming artist. To change the narrative from struggle to efficiency. To help them fly and actually soar to their destinies.
That’s why i was ecstatic to be invited to Dagos Bar opening night.
Dagos Bar is an artist run bar and performance venue. Set in Dagoretti Corner, a stone throw away from The Junction Mall and almost next door to the famous Mama Oliech, this little space may be the first page in a history book still trapped in the future. Here, you can let your guard down and drink, eat, enjoy live music and meet people.
The jam session had begun at 2pm but i got there at 9pm. You can assume that musicians are always late but as the Prince of Party, i had good reasons for this one-its always good to join a party when its already lit-but only if your involvement doesn’t go beyond casual attendance. Otherwise you’ll be shit, the kind of failing creative that no one wants to work with.
Anyhu, by the time of my grand entrance-not, it was already full-house in this dual sectioned drinking hole. First, i fished out my camera as i passed Mama Oliech because i had an idea to take pictures of the outside as i approached the door. That went successfully well as i nodded hello to a couple smoking at the door.
I then walked straight to the bar past a few seated people. Stevo Kiwinda-the blues singing dread-locked rasta who is also part of the proprietorship ushered me to the performance area. It was full of people just watering and chatting away the youthful night. Veteran musician and guitarist Dave Otieno is just a bit restless. He’s working the sound system. All my life, I’ve known him composed, speaking calmly when not raising hell with his white Fender. He’s also been out on tour with The Nile Project but tonight, i get to see him wear a different but not at all strange hat. He’s also part of this new establishment and he ensured good vibes throughout the night.
In attendance were unlikely but most likely people. Celebrated editorial cartoonist Mado was having a good time on a table not far from a party comprising contemporary artists Dickson Kaloki and Onyis Martin. Dagos is a candid space so everyone is pretty much within reach without hurdles. I wondered with Kwame Nyong’o why Lavosti wasn’t around, but he was playing at Js that night.
I was chilling with old friends Sequiera Manaseh and Steph Mutoka when I eventually got invited to the drums fam. I played with the legends Dave Otieno on guitar, Danger Shitaka on bass and Stevo Kiwinda who bust into the blues singing Thrill Is Gone supported by the wailing bends of Jean Paul‘s harmonica. Also jamming were Ngare Mukiria, Emi the Japanese trumpeter and a host of nice musical people from audience.
At around 1am, the house got treated to free nyama choma as strangers became friends over drinks and vibes. I left for home at 2.30am but went to Marikitit Market instead.