Lagosians give living full expression when camped on the sunny side of life. TUNDE AYANDA reports on the big spending night-lifers of Nigeia’s land of Aquatic spendour.
Lagos does not lag when it comes to grandiose shows. The slogan “Eko for Show” summarises the city’s status as a social hub. While the word outside is ‘crunch,’ brought about by the current economic recession, in Lagos nightclubs, you cannot help but wonder if, indeed, the economic situation really exists in this part of the country. From Ikeja to Oshodi, Maryland, Bariga, Ikorodu, Ketu, Ajegunle, Okota, Apapa, Ikotun, Lekki, Ikorodu, Berger, Abule-Egba, Okota, Festac, Magodo and Ajah, Lagos breathes the nightlife freshness and lives up to its status as a cosmopolitan city where things happen that shape the lifestyle and internal revenue the state generates.
Where to be
Lagos has an endless list of nightclubs, lounges, bars and parlours which occupy the Island and Mainland parts of the city. The Island, comprising areas like Ikoyi, Lekki, Ajah, Banana Island and VGC, is the part of the city mostly inhabited by the rich and sophisticated. The Mainland, which has Ikeja, which is the central part of Lagos and other areas, is equally home to men and women of means.
De Marquee, D’Place By Papas, Soul Lounge, Cuba Libre Lounge, Escape Nightclub, Quilox, Hacienda, Level 7, Rumours, Crescendo, Swe Bar, Rhapsody and Road-Runner are popular names when it comes to nightclubs in Lagos. They have different weekly activities that attract patrons in their thousands.
What’s in a name?
The name and reputation of a nightclub owner play a big role in the operation and success of their hangout.
Frank Okamigbo is the manager of D’Place By Papas in Lekki. The man about town hints: “Personality attracts sales. You can’t be a club owner or manager when you don’t have your people. You don’t rest on the beauty or location of your club; what you need is solid contacts of spenders who can be your old friends, classmates or colleagues. What makes a club successful is the calibre of patrons you have and the kind of service you provide that can bring them back anytime.”
Quilox, on Ozumba Mbadiwe Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, owned by socialite, Shina Peller, is regarded as the biggest nightclub in Africa in terms of patronage and revenue. It is the only nightclub where you get to see, for real, people you could only see on the television or read about in newspapers or magazines. Quilox is said to be the favourite hangout of a state governor. He is said to breeze in occasionally to relax after a hard day’s work.
Is there really a hard time?
The typical atmosphere in the nightclubs is such that renders the hard time currently being experienced in the country an exaggerated claim. There is hardly any sign of economic recession when the Lagos nightclubs open. Although some club managers admit that the fun is not the same with some of their patrons either having issues with the government or out of the country, business is still as usual as night-lifers, especially those with deep pockets, remain faithful to their favourite hangouts.
A disputed research in 2015 placed Nigeria in the second position as the world’s biggest champagne consumer after France. If truly the country comes second as far as champagne guzzling around the world is concerned, then Lagos nightclubs must account for 65 percent of the estimated consumption rate of choice drinks, which has been put at N1 billion per year.
While anyone can afford a decent bottle of beer at a regular parlour or bar, most nightclubs in Lagos target a much richer and luxurious market. Drinks in these nightclubs sell 10 times higher than their regular prices.
In the upmarket part of Lagos, nightclubs make a killing from wine and champagne brands like Dom Perignon, Moet & Chandon, Cristal and Veuve Clicquot. Prices at nightclubs vary widely. A standard bottle of Moet & Chandon in a choice nightclub in Lagos starts from N50,000 and a bottle of Cristal goes for as much as N350,000, depending on the club’s location and sophistication.
A visit to Quilox nightclub on Victoria Island revealed that the price of a bottle of Cristal goes for N200,000, Dom Perignon, N150,000, Gold Label, N100,000, Moet Rose, N80,000 and Ciroc, 75,000. At the Cubes Lounge, Ogudu, GRA, Lagos, Ciroc sells for N25,000, Moet Rose, 30,000, Gold Label, N40,000, Ace of Spades, N120,000, Dom Perignon, N80,000 and Cristal, N110,000.
And what do clubbers do with these drinks? The big boys among them buy, open and wash their hands and feet with the stuff. They call it balling!
Cost of running a nightclub
While nightclubs can fetch an entrepreneur a lot of money within a short time, it requires a lot of money to start. A lot of investment is required to get a prime location in a part of Lagos that attracts the kind of customers you want. The areas where a lot of capital is needed include the interior design and architecture, quality sound systems, well-trained staff and good disc jockeys.
Quilox nightclub is reportedly valued at N1 billion, explaining what it costs to own a nightclub of such standard, while smaller nightclubs in other locations in Lagos, it can start with as low as N3 million.
Running a nightclub is a high-risk and short lifespan business. What is trendy, hip and hot today may be gone in two years and that is why such hangouts as Movida, Club Tower, 11:45, K’s Place, Do It All, Rehab, Nu Grotto and Koko Lounge that once ruled the Lagos nightlife are no more standing.
Club operations and activities
December and January are the special months that club-owners and managers plan towards. It is the peak season for all the hangouts. They plan ahead of the festive period when revellers inside and outside the country come together to share in the celebration.
Most Lagos hangouts understand the reason to upgrade during this time to meet the standard of their patrons and this has to cover the area of security and public relations. To others that operate strip joints, this is the time to recruit new, young girls into the mix. The cheapest wage of a stripper in a Lagos strip joint is $1000, depending on her nationality, as many Lagos nightclubs favour foreigners who are expert stripteasers with the understanding that they attract more patrons.
Nightclub operators who know the ingredients of the business do not overemphasise the importance of security and that is the reason most hangouts have top police officers, NDLEA officers, other security personnel and even the media on their “complimentary list.”
These sets of people usually enjoy discount in prices of drinks and mostly get free membership of nightclubs based on the obvious understanding of making the clubs safe havens for patrons. Hangouts that fall short of this practice come under frequent raids by security agencies, which is an unusual situation that threatens the image of a nightclub.
The work of security agents in nightclubs is not limited to providing security; some nightclubs rely on policemen to sort debts that are occasionally incurred by their VIP patrons.
Different strokes for different folks
While Lagos nightclubs are a source of blessing to owners and others that profit from the business, some residents see the business as an opposite of what life should be.
For Yejide, a banker and resident of Oke-Ira, Ogba, whose house is close to a nightclub, she hardly sleeps every Friday. The mother of three says that she struggles with the noise from the speakers of the nightclub. She is begging the government to extend the noise pollution law to nightclubs which, she claims, have the option of making their buildings soundproof.
Godwin Anyanwu, who lives in Magodo, Lagos expresses displeasure with building of nightclubs in residential areas. Anyanwu reasons that nightclubs harbour people whose activities make residents uncomfortable.
A lawyer, Femi Awe, doesn’t see the matter from Anyanwu and Yejide’s points of view. He says a nightclub is the only place for him to relax after a hard day’s work, the best place for him to get introduced to important people who eventually become his clients.