Out in Abuja: Club behaviour

Traffic Bar Abuja Photo: goabj.com

Abuja’s club life can be all it can be, despite the city’s (in)security reality. At The Traffic, traffic never lets up. Friday. I had fuuunnn!!! I left work around 9p.m. and headed for The Traffic, an outdoor bar/restaurant, at Dabras Hotel, Aminu Kano Crescent, Wuse 2.

There is also a Traffic bar at Maitama by the way. I was invited by my friend, Timmy, a photographer. He was always putting up Instagram pictures of his good times at Traffic that I was starting to get “faaji envy” so I finally decided to find out what was so great about the place.

The bar is after the main entrance of Dabras Hotel, just beside the parking lot. Actually, the bar is just in front of The Bank, a nightclub at the same hotel. The evening was going to go like this: from 9 to about 11, we were going to be at Traffic, then after we would move into The Bank.

The menu at the bar is based more on fast food than “real food”. You won’t find any eba here, though you would find buffalo wings – which I ordered, spiced beef and a specialty called Traffic rice, amongst others. I also ordered for malt and after that a bottle of cold Star – now this last order got some major reaction but we would get into that later.

While I sipped my malt, I managed to catch some debate on whether jam could be served with bread at night. You see, Traffic serves you bread and butter as an appetiser when you make your order. This is kinda regular for top-notch restaurants and hotels.

Now this lady did not want the butter and felt that if you are going to serve bread for dinner, you might as well go the whole breakfast route and give an option of jam, or some other spread for the bread. This idea so annoyed the manager of the bar, who is also the chef, that he was this close to walking the girl out. Touchy chefs! What are you? Ratatouille? When I ordered for my buffalo wings and was served my appetiser, the chef not so jokingly and to the lady’s hearing asked if I wanted jam or marmalade or honey and so on and so forth.

But it was really all fun and games because the two are actually friends… I think. In spite of that, the atmosphere at the bar is very calm and friendly. The decor is kind of like a beach bar, open spaces everywhere. The kitchen where the meals are made is in a glass enclosed building separate from the bar and one could actually see the cooks at work.

There was also a large clock overlooking the bar at the side of The Bank; good for knowing when it’s time to move into the club. My buffalo wings were tasty – chef’s recipe – if a bit tough for my tender teeth. Then I ordered for a beer and the bartender asks Timmy and me, “Beer?” like he didn’t hear right. “Yes, Star,” I replied. Even my friend Timmy asked. “You drink beer?” As a matter of fact, I do.

Occasionally, because, you know, as a friend of Timmy, who was equally shocked at the thought and sight of a woman drinking beer openly, kind of astutely surmised I have a broad world view. And I know drinking beer will not turn me to Medusa. However, and it must duly be noted, no eyebrows were raised when in the club and at the bar, ladies were openly smoking cigarettes and inhaling shisha.

Soon it was 11pm and time to move into The Bank. I should also remark that at the beginning of the evening when Timmy gave me the grand tour of club – there are three VIP lounges, including one where you get to only drink Hennessy and grape juice – he told me that though the club was opened from 10, it only started to pick up at around midnight.

Dress code is smart casual – not too provocative. No sandals allowed for guys unless you are wearing a very smart native. “We are trying to make it as exclusive as possible,” Timmy said and I interpreted this as top-notch. The suits on the bouncers alone should clue any would-be slacker in.

Their shirts were crisp white. And then the servers almost looked like guests themselves except they were all dressed in the same pink button-downs and black trousers uniform. In the club, there were a few guests standing around tables. Most were not even dancing just standing; except for this one dude who might as well as been having a me-party with his enthusiastic – compared to the general atmosphere – dancing.

The club did fill up by 12. There was almost no space for Me-party man to display his “great” steps. He was eventually relegated to one corner where he grinded with his girlfriend. By the way, ladies, if you are at a club and your go-to dance step is a body roll or some vigorous twerking, just stay at home. You are spoiling it for the rest of us who want to display our take of “sekem” and “shoki.”

And rather than playfully dancing with us, the boo is gonna be stuck all night staring at your shameless ass and boobs. The music was great; the DJs were creative in their mix. It was not like someone just bought some Alaba mix CD that you also happen to own. It was blissful dance music that had clubbers on their feet for hours.

The drinks helped too, for some people. Service here was rather efficient. Once you get a table, a wait staff materialises with what I was guessing was the regular service – unless you ask for something else – a bottle of Hennessey and cokes. Same for when you put a cigarette to your lips, a lighter just appears from nowhere.

Nice. I was having so much fun dancing and watching people dance that before I knew it, it was 3am. The last time I stayed that late in a club was in university – a long time ago. I was debating leaving then, by which time the club was emptying out, when a celebrity – a real one, like top notch – walked in.

Most people didn’t even notice; even when some dude picked him up and gave him a huge bear hug – normal drunken behaviour, some would have assumed. The celebrity casually walked to one of the VIP areas with his entourage – no noise. I watched to see if there would be any scandal worth reporting but was disappointed.

The guy was just there to have fun like the rest of us. At 4am, when I finally left, I witnessed a mild drama at the entrance. A lady dressed in what I can only describe as pant tried to get in but was refused by the bouncers.

They told her they were closed but she could hear the loud music still blaring and I’m sure some who were more suitably dressed had been allowed in while she stood there. I mean, by 4am, people were still rolling up to the club – Abuja! I’m sure by 7am some people were still partying but me? I had to work.

My Saturdays are not necessarily rest days.


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