The first time I walked into MUZE was 4 weeks prior to opening night. It looked nothing like a club, only a shell of it. Plain white pillars stuck out in an empty bare hall. Dust and dirt lined the tiled floor. “This is where the bar will be, and this here will be the stage.” I could see it but I couldn’t see it.
That is until the MUZE club premiere on 30th November 2018.
Strolling in on that cool Friday evening, I couldn’t believe this was it. The club had transformed into something my imagination wouldn’t have conjured up. It was simply a magic trick. I spent about an hour checking out the different parts of the club like a proper newbie. And the next 4 or so letting loose in this new nightclub in Nairobi. I even had to come back for the second night of the MUZE club premiere weekend.
If you were there, you would understand. Here are 7 reasons why any party lover would fall in love with MUZE.
1. The decor
The first thing that strikes you is the jet black walls everywhere. They are punctuated by a few art pieces which stand out against the dark background. Meanwhile, the entrance exudes an art gallery feel with a standalone piece of a gorgeous lady. She makes you feel like you have just entered the fanciest nightclub in town.
When you look around the club, you’ll spot the MUZE logo in different shapes and sizes. A favourite is the large one cut out on cardboard. This partition separates the dance floor from the entrance, giving it a cool air of mystery.
2. The sound system
Now, I have encountered the powerful Funktion-One speakers before at the Alchemist and Backyard Bar before. But at MUZE, the dance floor is indoors and square-shaped so the sound is truly concentrated. And if you’re keen, you’ll notice the soundproofing on the low ceiling which amplifies the audio experience.
You basically feel the bass reverberating through your whole being. This quality sound washes over your body in one clean swoop. And you become one with the music.
Just don't dance too close to any of the speakers.
3. The setup
Just as I had been told, there is a wide bar on the left and a proper stage in the middle. Sometimes, you can see your reflection dancing in the mirrors behind the busy bar. Oh, and there are only a few high tables and seats on the dance floor - which is slippery enough for a moonwalk. It is strictly for letting loose. And we took full advantage of it until morning.
Plus it’s almost impossible to feel cold with all the dancing lights.
When you want to sit down and drink, there’s the long and beautiful terrace that overlooks Mpaka Road. The bamboo stalks planted along the balcony give it a lush jungle vibe.
Still, if you want to get even further away from the music, there’s a special corner for everyone. Here awaits two comfortable couches adorned in kitenge material and a colourful art piece above that complements them. It’s is the ultimate chill spot. Great for taking Instagram photos too.
4. The lights and smoke
It’s impossible to leave out this part of the MUZE premiere weekend. Every few minutes, party smoke would puss from the ground and colourful lights would dance around our bodies. There are two reasons why I love this.
First, this visual combination produces fantastic photos - even when you’re using a low-grade camera. And secondly, they amplify the entire partying experience. You easily lose yourself to dance, and you don’t care. You might even be forgiven for thinking you’re in a world-class nightclub somewhere in Ibiza.
5. The location
Till today, I still marvel at how convenient this nightclub’s location is. MUZE is a short walking distance from the main Westlands bus stage which is active 24/7. And unlike many hotspots in Nairobi, there is ample car parking on both sides of Mpaka Road. You don’t have to worry about security.
Next to the famous Electric Avenue flanked with Nairobi nightclubs, the streets are always alive with vendors selling stylish coats, second-hand shoes and sizzling food. The last part is the one you should be most interested in. You will always find women or “mathes” selling authentic Kenyan food to anyone working at night, from taxi drivers to watchmen to even partygoers. Whenever you’re hungry, you can simply sneak out of MUZE club and grab a cup of steaming tea. Or chapo madondo.
6. The diversity in music
There’s a reason I don’t party in Nairobi clubs anymore - only hippie bars. Whether it’s a Thursday or a Saturday night, you can always predict the tired playlist of mainstream music.
Not at MUZE.
On the premiere night, there was a selection of bouncy Afro-house music from Noise on Demand and later Deejay Kace. But the most interesting was the live music section. Jazz guitarist Eddie Grey played a lo-fi jazzy set accompanied by drummer Amani Baya and singer Lexi. The main act Ambasa Mandela then brought everyone to their dancing feet. His infectious energy and live Afro-fusion music made it the most unforgettable experience.
However, the second night was quite different.
On Saturday 1st December, MUZE hosted the second annual RISE Nairobi event featuring renowned electronic DJs from Nairobi and Berlin. It was a night of pure underground Afro-house music, full of shuffling and fists pumping in the air. And the smoking lights created the perfect rave atmosphere.
We did dance until 6 am.
Photo by Joose Digital
When you go out to a club, you want to recognize at least one person in the crowd. You don’t want to be the lost child sticking out. Thankfully at MUZE, that never happened.
There were different crowds on different nights. The premiere night attracted alternative Kenyan musicians, rastas and music lovers who were once part of the Backyard Bar crowd - which closed down in September 2018. It wasn’t a surprise really, as MUZE club is an upgrade of the former Nairobi underground music venue. And it was started by the same two guys: Matt Swallows, the owner of ADA Creatives Studio and Willie Gichora of Mashariki Music.
On the second night, it was the Gondwana crowd: upper-class Nairobians, expats and Indians. I recognized many of them from the Afro-house event which happens every last Sunday of the month at Captain's Terrace Restaurant. The underground music community was clearly still alive. And MUZE became the melting pot of live music and EDM enthusiasts.
For my first ever club premiere, MUZE set the bar pretty high. I was blown away by the unique audio-visual experience, the cool demure look and the diverse alternative music. A week later, I attended both MUZE Weekender nights which introduced us to its new resident EDM DJs.
Allow me to name drop Suraj, Euggy, L.A. Dave, Dylan-S, Donnaccia, Foozak, Vidza and Eric K. They each educated us on the deeper sounds of electronic music which we rarely hear in Nairobi nightclubs. Music that keeps calling you back to the dance floor after every short break on the terrace.
This was the final event of the year before MUZE closed for Kilifi New Year 2019 Festival. But not to worry. After all the Kilifornication and a couple of renovations, MUZE will be reopening on Thursday 24th January for the first Backyard Bass hip-hop party of the year. Followed by the MUZE official launch party on Saturday night featuring the cool kid himself Blinky Bill.
For now, we can relax as we have found a new alternative music joint in town. MUZE is exactly what Nairobi nightlife needs in this sea of the same old clubs playing the same old music. Even their theme is #DanceDifferent. And as one of my DJ friends shouted above the loud music during one of the premiere nights “This is home now.”
I could finally see it.