Throwback: An Ode To Creative Spaces

On the wake to a dramatic closure, James Murua eulogized Simmers in a moving tale of nostalgic recollections. Personally of late, I’ve been dealing with heavy contemplation on how we are affected by time and significance of history. It got me thinking about numerous spaces and places that have been of significance in the development of our urban cultural heritage, albeit the most recent ones that i got to experience. I know they are numerous and every generation or group of people have their own collective memories dolled in a fading time capsule but here are some of my own. Please feel free to add on this list.

Oilibya – Westy

I don’t know why we haven’t colonized any of these open spaces around Nairobi into an underground drive-in but Olibya used to be a good plan. You’d drive in with your supplies in the car and party until am. No sweaty dance floors, bouncers or pickpockets; just you, your squad and your vibes. Do you know of a good spot today? The Total near J’s.

The Godown Arts Centre

This place opened it doors to artists just at the turn of the millennium. I must have been 14 years old, bored and curious to have walked down Bunyala Road several times to look at acrobats at the space which then, still doubled as an industrial warehouse. Its where i first found out that puppets were not real toys and saw my first recording studio because i was one of the people giving out the first ever Ketebul Studio fliers when it opened for business around 2005.

Kenya Cultural Center-KNT

At one point, i remember this place being festival like on a daily basis! It was the cultural hub and you could meet all the relevant people there. Up until three years ago, they had Friday jam sessions where all Nairobi’s indie musicians and spoken word artists converged.

Creatives Garage

These guys may have have shifted base once again but they’re still popping out of Kilimoney. We love Creatives Garage because like many of the nu creatives around here, it was our first home out of the bedroom study. Those days, three years ago, for a good period of time, Creatives Garage was the place you came as you were and went home feeling genuinely good. I think this place did so much in creating a whole nu angle of perception and platforms to celebrate diversity in different aspects of our lives. They may not be throwing parties anymore but their programs are still relevant today and for the future.

PAWA254

This place was cool in so many ways. First of all, it opened State House Road and its environs to people that would otherwise have little opportunities to see that side of town. They had artist studios, co-working spaces, lounge and threw some of the best gigs on a rooftop fam. They also had interesting programs that have slowed down just a liiiitle bit. I took a day residency next to author Oduor Jagero the other day and the whole working area seemed like an office party. Whats with a boombox and fire playlists on a Monday workday, felt like my kind of environment.

The Wall of Alliance Francaise 

You see the flower beds outside the Alliance? They never always used to be there. That wall was a popular hangout for college kids and upcoming creatives back in 2008. So popular was it that it had one of the most popping Facebook Groups back when they were still a thing. Just to tell you how serious that wall was, its reportedly where Sauti Sol and Elani were formed. It was generally the perfect spot to BYOB, jam, hangout and network until someone decided to put flowers there and disperse the youth. Its not all over though as The Alliance have a new Wednesday showcase for young musicians and its always free!

Ronjey
Ronjey
Founder at | francis.ronjey@gmail.com | | + posts

@RonjeyRocks is a multi talented, alternative thinker and Cool Master General.
A champion of arts and culture currently unsettled in East Africa.

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