Concorde or my first two hours clubbing in Addis Ababa

And so now it can be said: mmk has visited the famous Concorde in Addis Ababa. And what little shreds of innocence that were still (reluctantly) hanging off me have now been stripped and buried for all eternity. Oh yes, to this son of the soil, innocence is a past state of being. Where to begin?

In the past two weeks, a number of taxi drivers have been recommending that I should visit the Concorde Hotel on account of it being lots of fun and very popular with foreigners. But since realizing that taxi drivers in Addis are made precisely from the same clay as those in Nairobi, namely that they are out to fleece anyone with the sucker look one wears in a new town, I was not willing to take them up on the offer. Besides, I have been trying to sustain a no-alcohol pledge; and thought it best to stay away since I do not associate nightclubs with sodas.

On the night in question, this past Friday to be exact, I went to have dinner at a workmate’s home. In the course of conversation, it turned out that the Concorde was just a short walking distance away. We decided to check it out and my curiosity only grew when he assured that I would see, ‘things you have never seen before bwana aiii!’

Once at Concorde and having paid the 20 birr cover charge, it took less than three minutes to realize that its popularity has nothing to do with its music or cocktails: it’s the sex for sale that draws the crowd. We were in Addis Ababa’s version of Nairobi’s Florida nightclubs.

There was an Ethiopian band playing to a crowd whose mood is best summed up as ‘hurry up and stop all that singing and dancing, we are here for other things.’ After an hour of excruciatingly unenthusiastic performances, the club music kicked in spurred on by an MC who bounced around the small space rapping along with whatever hip-hop was in any particular song. The DJ (and please oh lord I beg for leave to issue a critique that I hope does not extend throughout the city) seemed trapped in an American mid-western, early 1990s music hell. I suppose there must be a fundamental existential crisis DJs suffer when they have to play for western tourists or expats and local prostitutes. Imagine the dilemma as they build their play list for the night: do I play hip hop for the 18 year old girl who will cajole the John to buy drinks and stay longer or to her 60-year old John from a small town in Missouri? Add to that the insistent little voice in the DJs head that insists he is an artist and should be above all other concerns.

His attempt to unify the disparate audience at Concorde meant that a jazzy song was succeeded by rap, then by Lingala and then that national anthem of American middle-age angst: ’18 till I die, 18 till I die…yeah!’

One wall of Concorde is mirrored. For the two hours I was there, several women stood in front of the mirror dancing with their own images. They were so absorbed, so taken with the obvious beauty in front of them; it must also have been a good vantage point from which to get a view of who was checking them out most ardently. The weird thing is I found myself concentrating more on the image in the mirror than on the woman standing in front of it. It was as if by looking so intently at her image, she drew me to her image and away from herself. But then since the image was also looking at her… Let us turn to our Lacan here because there is clearly a need for some further confusion. I have not read Lacan but do know at least that he wrote on the mirror stage. Imagine again this young, tightly trousered, nubile woman dancing in front of the Concorde mirror. When she was younger and had done the same thing, Lacan would have said that she was involved in the initial and necessary act of self manufacturing – by identifying the self according to the Other. And if indeed I do understand any part of other arguments he made, then perhaps the woman in the mirror was not actually her at all, but a stranger, an Other. This of course must be quite close to the truth of selling sex for money. It requires, I would suppose, a distancing, an ability to say that this is me and that woman over there in the bed under the heaving weight is some other person. A tough person who does what she has to do.

(Please do not ask that it make sense because nothing Lacan says makes sense to me. Actually nothing anyone says that involves the words self, other or identity make any sense to me anymore. I have been far too corrupted by an Anglo-Saxon veneration of words for authority’s sake. If you want to get into this a bit more, I suggest you go to Wikipedia – not that it helped me in the least)

In Greek mythology, Medusa whose gaze turned people to stone was herself turned to stone when Perseus the hero held up a mirror to her. Snow White’s Wicked Queen needed the reassurance of a magic mirror to know that she was the fairest woman in all the land. And my favorite: Harry Potter in one of the books glances into a magic mirror that reflects his deepest desire. Destruction, revelation and yearning. Surely the women in Concorde could in some way relate to the three mirrors. Or perhaps this riff of the subject is just my way of dealing with the fact that I am once again procrastinating from my long suffering thesis.

Anyway, to get back to the scene, the twenty or ladies on the floor were swaying patiently to the music. They were not actually dancing as much as showing off their wares, waiting for the prod in the back, the one that says ‘can I dance with you or buy you a drink?’

In the dim light, their eyes shifted slowly from one male face to the other. They peeled away my pretension that I was just a local accompanying some ferenjis (foreigners) out on the town. The table between me and the dance floor had white expatriates seated around it. They were behaving as if they were on dates with women whose body language to everyone except their ‘date’ reflected an utter boredom relieved only by practiced touches filled with a detached erotic promise.

At an adjoining table was a smooth looking dude in all-black clothing and exuding manicured airs. The women kept walking up to him and drifting away minutes later. He coolly appraised each as if he knew their secret which in his mind must have amounted to ‘I know what you want and it is me you want’. I suspect that he actually felt that beneath all the solicitations was a genuine desire for him since he was clearly irresistible. There are Johns whose visits to prostitutes are only made bearable by maintaining the conceit that love can flourish somewhere within the money-for-sex transaction. I found myself disliking every man in the room except for the waiters and the grossly fat, exhausted looking bouncer.

As we sat there, with me trying to hold onto my non-drinking pledge, I noticed a woman looking at me more intently than any of the others. Her eyes were filled with come hither and so I tried filling mine with ‘I am scared of you and have a wife and am considering becoming a monk.’ But her eyes ignored such pleas and insisted, ‘you know why you are here, why else would you be here if not because of me?’ By the time I came back to the table from a toilet break, her eyes had stopped talking and her mouth had taken over.

‘You want to dance?’ she asked loudly to be heard above whatever song the bastard of a DJ was playing.
‘Um, no thanks, I don’t like this song.’ I answered.
‘You want to buy me a drink?’
‘Um, not today, I am just about to leave.’
‘But I love you.’

My colleague interjected then with loud and, to my ears, very welcome laughter. ‘These ladies,’ he said into my ear, ‘they know only three words: drink, love and condom.’

Such was the adventure at the Concorde where you are promised to fly very high or very low or whatever kind of flying provided you are ready to pay the fares.

About bulletsandhoney
I read my first book when I was three, then my second one a few weeks later. It has carried on this way for decades with only temporary distractions of eating, fighting, loving, heartbreak and other such irrelevant biographical details.

34 Responses to Concorde or my first two hours clubbing in Addis Ababa

  1. Anonymous says:

    lets say your friend never interjected

    these lines would have come from the lady next
    -do you have a condom
    answer to that will it would depend on quite a number of factors but seeing that you are in a foreign land the rubbers would naturally be next to your wallet so yes you answer .

    next comes the ying-yang and just before the get-down she would blurp
    – if you want without condom you pay 100 birr more

    🙂 just joking( or am I speaking from experience ? ) , excellent writeup as always .

  2. Kabinti says:

    Interesting post. I was once in Addis with a group of friends and went to a particular club (don’t remember the name but could have been Concorde). The joint was mainly caucasian men and ethiopian ladies. Needless to say the place was a serious meat market not to mention the daggers we were getting from the ladies coz we were “cockblocking”

  3. LOOOL.
    LMAO, ati ‘but I love you’…That so made my day…… tihihi,

  4. alexcia says:

    Talk about being at the wrong place at the wrong time…you found yourself at the supermarket for the two promodial urges: getting drunk and getting fucked or fucking on someone else and all you settle for is the boring human preoccupation of judging others or oneself and marinating on heavy intellectual stuff like Lacan?

    Did you see anything of yourself in that mirror?

    • Jamie says:

      Not at all boring. Fascinating. One of the articles i have read that made me think…’manufacturing the other’…It is precisely these places where an intelligent man (as he clearly is) will need an analytical tool. He did it with great humour and modesty. U make me sad. Not him.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Why do you go to such places if you’re married? Do not say becuase you care to indulge the whimsical fantasies of your white brethren as I have seen you indulge in your own (alone) in Nairobi’s Concorde counterpart

  6. MMK says:

    kabinti – when I was growing up in Nairobi there used to be stories that any non-night professional who visited Florida nightclub would be beaten by the prostitutes there. They would lay an ambush at the bathrooms.

    alexcia – did I see myself in the mirror? Yes, I was the dude sitting down staring and trying to pretend I wasn’t. And yes, I trod the boring path while the Lacan came up much later. Is drinking a primordial urge you think?

    Anonymous – I am not married, I just said I was. Don’t read too much into my visit to Concorde. I was not there to judge the sinful or anything of the sort. As for Nairobi’s Florida, yes I have gone to them often. But never alone as you put it with an unmistakable (smelly) whiff of accusation.

  7. gishungwa says:

    musta been an interesting experience. i can almost see you being there trying to understand what goes… would have loved to see that its so much like all the floridas…
    well wwritten.

  8. alexcia says:

    Is drinking a promordial urge?
    No, not drinking but getting drunk! And one can get drunk on love, the Holy Spirit etc

    BTW, You might be undersexed, do consider either getting some action on that score or suspending your no-alcohol pledge

  9. WM says:

    MMK,me love. A ka-small point only. Um,Lacan’s mirror stage usually has to do with very small children==indeed, infants. However your creativity should in no way suffer from the restraints of the author’s intent…after all, the author is dead, as I keep trying to tell you. Smirk. Smoocheroo.

  10. Keguro says:

    Lacan is best read with a strong alcoholic drink in hand or through a drug-induced haze. The patterns become clearer.

    As WM points out, the mirror stage takes place at a relatively early point of life, though you have it right. The self constructs its sense of coherence via externalizing itself.Easy formulation.

    I suspect you simply updated (without attribution) Lacan via Film Theory. But that’s another discussion.

    I am so glad I’m not the only one who theorizes while clubbing.

  11. ROTFLMAO! Man, oh MAN! That last line by the prosti- I mean, ‘woman of the night’ was what did me in. In my head, it sounded like “Bhat Eye Raff Uuu…” (pleading?)

    Priceless dude. How is it that I lived in that country for over 20 years and I never heard of that joint? Wait…did my little brother know about that joint?! (*note of hysteria creeps into voice*)
    perhaps it wasn’t there when we lived there….

    in any case, nice one, real nice.

  12. ferenjis says:

    I was in this place last wednesday.
    In the beginning I couldn´t figure it out. The women are prostitutes or they want a way out of Ethiopia?.
    Anyhow the place was full on a wednesday at 2 o´clock in the night.
    Good atmosphere en very beautiful women.
    I didn´t go into nothing, but they were trying there best.
    On my next trip I will defenitely go again to the Concorde.
    Just to look at the people.

  13. Reporter says:

    I too was at the Concorde club one strange night. I had a two hour stopover on a trip from Nairobi to Dubai and instead of just spending it in the airport – it was in the middle of the night – a got out, found a run down taxi and asked the driver to take me to some action. After going through a terrible neighbourhood, getting to several spooky looking drining-places that luckily for me were already closed, for a moment I stually thought he was goinge to kille me for the few bucks in my pocket, but hen he took me to the Concorde. And what a surprise. So many beautiful women in the horrible rundown capital. I swear I never saw anything like this anywhere in the world – and belive me I did travel a lot. I may be dumb though. The girls didn’t seem like prostetutes, allthough I suspected all the time they were. They were so uncommenly friendlt to me….and then I had to got back to the airport. After about half an hour there…it broke my hearth to do so, but what a nice memory og that place I have.

  14. Pettsman Gushi says:

    I did go to Concorde and what a funny place it is. The girls were very beautiful but they did not patronise me because I was busy entertaining my beer. The only thing I liked about the ladies is that they all attended the same school of smiling and being cheerful. they are very beautiful and don’t look desperate though. Its a nice and good place to those who need a break from noisy getto music.


  15. Faisal says:

    I went to Concorde club i had a great time besides the
    fact that the lady couldn’t say anything else but $100 us dollars
    at the end of the night the next morning I just bailed on

  16. john smith says:

    What a load of tripe if I have ever heard any, Get yourself a life man and stop judging others

  17. the big man says:

    Yes, I agree,What a sad piece of work.I went to concord for three years and loved it!Never treated the girls badly, and bought them beers too. Never paid more than 200 birr for the whole night.Great place for real men!

  18. Pettsman says:

    I returned to Concorde again this time I was on business. This place is crazy. I like it. I would return 100 times . The place is very nice . I loved everyone from management to dancing crew. On my first trip, I was not used to spiced food from their Chinese restaurant but now I am. The ladies are really beatiful. If ever I need to go on Holiday, I will not look beyond Concorde. The place really turns me on. No thieves and pests unlike in my country. You are free to buy beer to anyone you like without being pestered. I promise I will return again. Life is so short. I need to live it to its maximum. If there is anyone interested in visiting Concorde, e-mail me so that we would fly together in November 2009 or February 2010. I will not go to the World Cup in 2010 if its a question of choosing the best place to be between the 2.

    • Gregory says:

      Nice comment.Looks to me that this is the place what Im’ looking for.Are the hotels in Addis Ababa girls friendly(no extra charges)?

  19. Pettsman says:

    I highly recommend this place to tourists.

  20. hai says:

    I went to concorde one night on transit in addis ababa and attracted by a beautiful girl, I invited her dance and drink beer and talk together.I found that I had already falled in love with her, and even want to marry her.
    I got her telephone number then I left addis ababa on next day, I called her and sent shot-message from another country to her but got no response, what can i do? I don’t know what does she think, maybe she always belong to netclub? maybe she regard me as man buy sex with money? i really don’t mind if she is a prostitude or not.

  21. bro says:

    not for one night stand or anything but for series relationship.

  22. Pettsman says:

    The hotels in Addis are very nice like Inter-continental, Hotel de Leopol etc. I would recommend you Concorde because when I need a service at a hotel, I don’t mind moving out instantly when they don’t meet my standards. It took me almost an hour to check-in one of the most expensive hotels and the other one was badly positioned and thus why i look biased. You will have a problem of communicating when you choose the wrong hotel. Because at Concorde we were all foreighners, I felt at home communicating in english.

    Gregory think twice. I am not the right person to recommend but I like hussle-free, quick, simple service and smiling faces when I am in a foreign land

  23. unknown says:

    I have been there too. at about the same period. But not for the same reasons. I happen to enjoy the gloomy side of meat bars. Not that I am a consumer, on that level I am not too far from a vegetarian. But it does actually reveal how low our humanity can go. This place is probably as bad as a hooker place can be. The music is indeed horrible, the expatriates or tourists look sad and sometimes rather vicious. and the girls pathetic behaviours reveal what turns men on…

    Overlooking the dance floor – and the mirrors – are two mezzanines. and that is where the most consternating part of the “action” happens… in this dark area of the club, women actually try to engage conversation. In a (very) broken English, they try to lure you into their charms. Evidently the words fuck and how much are about the only conversation. Some men attract girls to sit on their laps and engage them to stimulate their private parts. Sometimes, one man looses control of his hands and gets brutally slapped. He probably went too far, too quick and, very likely was not prepared to pay for what he was trying to get…

    It is difficult to understand why the darkest area of the club is the more frenetic trading place. It isn’t for those women to hide manufacturing defects… most of them are actually very attractive. It probably relates more to the fact that men who use this kind of services are actually ashamed of it. But once you’ve come to Babylon, why try to hide yourself…? Most of those around you are here for the same reasons: mercantile “love”. And none could possibly be in a position to judge you. And here comes again a mirror analogy: at the moment of buying, men are confronted with their actual image… and prefer to be in a dark place to avoid seeing it too well.

    The worst part of going to Concorde hotel is getting out… one feels very empty. This is even more true when, on the way out, you cross a visibly under aged girl who displays a mix of panic and curiosity on her face… is probably her first time… and she probably does not even sense how bad her future will probably be. And that is something all those girls have gone through.

  24. Been thru that situation says:

    The only reason to go to concorde is when you’re drunk and no one is arround you I mean when you’re all alone the same time you’re interested in seducing a hoe ,, Grab a taxi tell ’em concorde hotel and you are at the perfect place & at the perfect time .. ! you gonna have fun foreal .. you gonna feel saad at the beginning seeing all this beautiful ladies hoeing out there but you gon be happy at the same time cause one of them is about to lay on yow bed .. and if you got extra drunk you can get you a room at the same hotel for 550 birr which is equal to 27.5 dollar ! Guaranteed safety as soon as the hooker bounce from your room the receptionist calls you and ask you to check on your stuffs and make sure nothing is missing + free breakfast in the morning you don’t have to search for a restaurant early morning , all you have to do is bounce your ass back home after having the break fast .. I liked their services but it’s not the place for clubbing .. There are lotta’ other clubs such as H2o , illusion and Gas light !

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  26. pettsman says:

    Its been 4 years since I was in Addis Ababa or Concorde. Is there anyone who can update me about any developments?.Does Concorde Hotel still exist. I would love to pay the place if its still like the good old days.

  27. Openuksa says:

    Не редки случаи, когда именно во время беременности у женщины впервые по-настоящему пробуждается половое влечение: оно становится преобладающим, порой даже тягостным. Женщина пытается бороться с собой, боясь повредить ребенку, нервничает, постоянно ходит возбужденная – и все это гораздо больше вредит плоду, чем нормальное расслабление в результате сексуального общения. Так что беременная вполне может испытать то, что было ей недоступно ранее, причем не прилагая к этому усилий.

  28. Z says:

    Headed to Addis next month. Might have to check this place out.

  29. Scott says:

    You sound ridiculously pretentious and childish. Terrible, sophomoric writing that would pass muster only in Gender Studies 101.

    • Jamie says:

      It was VERY well written. One of the VERY few peices that increases the scope of my thoughts. Your stereotypical remarks, Scott, are typical of conspiracy theorising neo-cavemen, who attribute anything vaguely intellectual to the horrors of (what they call) third wave feminism. Whats the connection?

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