12 September 2010

Nigeria: Before You Go Nude-Clubbing


The entertainment industry has no doubt come of age. After the hustle and bustle of a hard day's work, the need to let off steam invariably brought about an increase in the business with relaxation centres, cinemas and night clubs springing up in every nook and cranny of the country; a trend which has definitely added some buzz to the night life of most citizens. However, a recent and fast-spreading add-on to night club entertainment is nude-dancing, a development which has, for sometime, been a subject of debate. Morakinyo Olugbiji takes a look at the phenomenon called 'nude clubs.'

Nude clubs or strippers' clubs as they are popularly known, is a form of relaxation that is as old as entertainment itself, especially in places like the U.S., France, Italy and many other parts of the Western world where young girls strip themselves bare in clubs to entertain guests for a fee. But for sometime now, nude-clubbing has become a normal thing in the Nigerian entertainment scene, unlike in the past when all a person expects in a club is just music and drinks to spice-up the night. The highest you could ask for is a dance with the girl you came into the club with. If you are alone, you could be lucky to find a lady who is in the same situation with you and excuse her for a dance.

These days, however, you could just walk into a night club and be bombarded with a bevy of naked, mature, beautiful-looking girls dancing and engaging in different forms of lesbian acts. To assault your sense, they will definitely approach your seat to dance on your lap and wriggle all over you in a bid to 'get you in the mood.' Next on the menu is sex, if you so desire. But you would have to part with large amounts of cash! One of such clubs is Club Unique situated in Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos.

There is a fee for entering the club; N1000 regular and N2000 for VIPs on week-days. Weekends cost more due to the influx of patrons. The lap-dance fee is pegged at its lowest, N1000 naira upwards. Leadership Sunday also gathered that if a patron requires more than just a lap-dance from any of the girls, he can negotiate with her, beginning from N10,000 upwards, after which he will be led to a cubicle inside the club. The cubicle contains items from condoms to tissues and everything needed for the act. Sometimes, a regular patron of the club whose credibility is known could be allowed to go home with any of the girls who catches his fancy but at a higher fee. Interestingly, findings have shown that most of the patrons of these unusual clubs are high-profile members of the society, including company bosses and government officials, judging from the type of clothes they wear and cars they bring to the club premises.

Nude clubs all scattered all over Lagos Mainland and this style of night life is fast gaining recognition in many states of the Federation. Since November last year, it has not been business as usual for the owners of nude clubs in Lagos, as the war waged against them by the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences Monitoring Unit took its toll.

The unit had raided and shut down some strip clubs in the Ikeja area of Lagos, arresting 33 naked dancers, including two of the clubs' managers.

Prior to the raids, some of the task force officials had visited the clubs: Cazzbah, Club Unique, Wall Street, Millennium Cocoa Bar, Knight and Magic City (formerly Ocean Blue) at night disguised as patrons and after monitoring the clubs activities for a night, decided to swing into action in the wee hours of the following day.

Mr. Bayo Suleiman, the chairman of the Lagos Environmental Task Force claimed "the state government shut the clubs as a result of public out-cry over their existence." He also stressed that most of the clubs harbour criminals and other undesirable elements.

Describing the incidence, the Archbishop of Lagos, Cardinal Anthony Okogie was quoted as saying in a media publication that, "Evil has taken over in Lagos State . The way things are going, when girls between the ages of 15 and 25 dance nude and throw caution to the wind with boys and men watching them, then they are sending a wrong signal to the society. It portends danger. We are sitting on a loaded gun."

The exercise was greeted with mixed reactions among Lagosians. While many of the residents believe the action was a good step, others have frowned at the action of the government, saying strip-clubbing is part of adult entertainment and that it is allowed in most civilised nations. They opined that all the government needs to do is to get them regulated. Meanwhile, some of the arrested strippers were immediately tried and later granted bail.

After much lobbying and petitioning by the club owners, the Lagos State House of Assembly ordered that the clubs have a right to operate, hence the nude clubs' return to business, bigger and better, though Club Unique, for instance, no longer parades stark naked girls, following warnings from the law-makers; but many are still bothered about their location.

Before the raid last year, many of the residents had complained that the clubs were 'polluting' their environment, since almost all of them are sited within residential areas. Other arguments revolve around the practice of nude-clubbing and lowering the value of the female gender in the society.

On the issue of moral health and sanity of the society, Mrs. Alice Pako who lives around Allen Avenue was quoted as saying that she plans to relocate from that area, so as not to allow her children grow up in an environment where obscenity thrives.

Soji Molayo, another resident, stated that if indeed Nigeria wants to be like every other developed country of the world, then we must be able to emulate them in every sector, including entertainment.

"I have heard that the clubs no longer practice sex on stage as they once did. I have never faulted their existence anyway. What's wrong with having entertainment strictly for matured minds?"

"Whether legal or illegal, the government should at least consider the feelings of the rest of us who are not night crawlers. Why is it that we can no longer look outside our windows at night without seeing naked girls loitering around our environment? Imagine the kids seeing such indecent and mind-corrupting sight. It is just unfortunate that in this part of the world, we are fond of copying western culture sheepishly. And to think that these club-owners are downgrading-women and reducing them to objects of amusement in this day and age, it is really bad," Jackson Meshack opined.

Sylvester Anyaso, a patron of one of the clubs had this to say: "I have been patronising nude clubs for close to 4 years now; my weekends are not complete if I don't come here to relax. I was very sad when the task force closed them down last year. But I am glad that they have been re-opened. The fact that government has stated it is legal makes it even better. Can't you see, the girls are beautiful and appealing?"

All efforts to get the chairman of Club Unique, Mr. Tony Ojo, to comment on the issue proved abortive as we reliably gathered that he is currently out of the country. However, the club manager, Emma Ofor was quick to express his view. Ofor stated that the club ensures that it operates in the best professional way possible, so as not to insult the sensitivity of the residents.

"Since government has warned us not to parade naked, dancing girls on stage anymore, we've decided to limit our activities to strictly normal clubbing. The only thing now is that you only have exotic dancers but not nude girls on stage. They don't dance naked and we run this place professionally, because we understand the environment we are sited in. Club Unique is strictly a gentleman's hangout and it is legal. The government said so," he told Leadership Sunday.

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