Monday, April 27, 2009

Party like it's 1986

As I mentioned before, shortly after landing in Lusaka Jo and Kieron at Zambia Express were cool enough to provide me with an itinerary of the wonders of Zambia's capital. Granted Lusaka is a little thin on the must-dos unless you're into some serious watching corn grow or cars drive by, but Jo and Kieron were able to come up with some interesting stuff nonetheless. What really tickled my fancy was their mention of a club called Chrismar, since according to them it had been recommended by none other than Patrick Neate. I think I actually let out a scream when I read this. I sometimes scream at inappropriate times or possibly fondle a pack of cookies if it either takes me back to my childhood (I'm very Proustian) or reminds me of Finland, Denmark, that time I got my first CD, ice skating on the lake, the smell of Hastings in 1993, you know the usual... 

What do you mean not relevant?  

Back to Neate. He is the brilliant man behind one of my favorite books ever, Twelve Bar Blues, and one from my top 100, Musungu Jim and the Great Chief Tuloko. He is not quite up there with Tolstoy on my list, but surprisingly close. 

When I was still at university I had the chance to meet Neate a couple of times and once to sit down for a beer with him (and 10 other students from my class). While sweating profusely and the color of my face altering between a green I'll-vomit-on-your-shoes-if-you-let-me-oh-grand-author and a lovely will-her-head-now-explode red, I did not dazzle him with my intellect. I was barely able to speak English, or Finnish, or Danish, or actually utter anything more than the oh so witty giggle followed by a snort. I have never been as star-struck in my life.
In short, I idolize the guy (note: not stalk, would never stalk, unlike I do some singers and Mandela), and if he recommends Chrismar for live music, I'm there.

Have you ever walked into a club with a live band playing a medley of Careless Whisper, La Bamba and Aicha, and you were in fact not dreaming. I have now. 

This club is more of a pool bar, as it is outside, situated under a high thatched roof ceiling and filled with the kind of tables and chairs that you imagine the Little House on the Prairie - the Africa edition - characters making to furnish the homestead. When you order wine your glass is filled to the brim and the only options are white or red. The singer of the 'dreamy' band is a 50 year old Indian from Mauritius, who keeps asking me, the only white chick in the place, if I'm okay, to which I repeatedly give the African thumbs up (not referring to the middle finger) from the back of the room. There is a low wall, so I cannot go all the way onto the other side of the pool and pretend to not be able to hear him.

The hubby and I, as well as our friends, a British guy, his Zambian wife, and the wife's sister, remain seated and watch Chrismar come to life. More and more people keep arriving even though the gig has been going on for some time. Two women in the kind of suits my grandma wears to the doctor's, to a wedding, a funeral, a christening, or to the town supermarket, arrive with a middle aged guy who keeps gyrating as he walks. The ladies sit down and the man proceeds onto the dance floor, which is pretty much where half of the band is also situated, and dances the night away with most of the ladies in the club. He looks at me once, but thinks better of it and does not make his move. Lucky for him, since my dancing would be quite different from the elegant movements of the locals. All of them, even the quite hefty ladies - and they are hefty - move gracefully and to the actual beat. Also, they are not red in the face and they don't develop pit stains in the first 30 seconds. I am quickly in awe of the people of Zambia.

After my second 'to the brim white', which I suspect to be something not necessarily made of grapes, I start looking around, and nodding my head to the lovely rhythm of a 50 Cent cover that has followed Celebration. There are quite a few white men, most of them old and decrepit like the guy who has asked for an extra cushion for his bottom, together with young, some of them very much so, Zambian women, and then there are other women who wear belts for skirts and seem to be gyrating away for the benefit of the few remaining old guys without company. And what better words to gyrate to than "see the nozzle on my tre pound is three inches long/ and the trigger in the fo fo's extremely strong/ with a little tre douche is like pop, pop/ chase his ass up the block til his bitch ass drop" don't you think? Hmm. 

I give one more thumbs up to the curious Indian and we leave. He begins Jambo, Jambo Bwana, and we pick up our pace.

I still love Patrick Neate though.


julochka said...

i can see why you love a guy who has sidebar on his blog that says, "follow my tweets on twitter or don't. life is short."

but that was one seriously surreal experience you had. did you go for the flat tire drive before or after this?

and maybe that "to the brim white" was a bit akin to the "wine" one is served in china. did you detect a smell of petroleum coming from your skin the next day?

i would very much like to see "little house on the prairie - the african edition" can you arrange that?

Extranjera said...

Neate is awesome, and so funny. get a hold of his books (cept for Pigeon wars, and i forgot the City of Tiny Lights in Finland, unread, so can't guarantee) if you can.

This was our Saturday night entertainment that i was supposed to post yesterday, but then the whole tire thing happened, and early this morning i was on a plane back to SA (check out the jewelry pic), so i'm just posting every which way, and I don't think my brain has caught up yet. Also giving the liver a break...

Now that i think of it, there was a smell on Sunday, but that could also have been the fake Rexona I got.

I would very much like to see LHOP - africa edition. Worth pitching? There is a show called Coconuts here that is just the worst shit ever, so why not this? I'll work on it.