Every time I need to remember home all I really have to do is play Dave Koz’s album ‘the dance’. When the song ‘together again comes along I can barely hold back my emotions. It simply epitomises what Wednesday night at the Rock Bar, Speke Hotel in kampala was all about.
I am sure many a person has similar memory of this contemporarily designed pub, with its circular bar that was great for people watching or ‘optical nutrition’ as we called those days. The lighting was great and the staff were superb. They did take a while to get used to the fact that I was a teetotaller, so they decided not to make me feel out of place by always giving me my coca cola in a whiskey glass topped with ice and a slice of lemon.
The crowd was a mostly young professional one who would walk in at 6pm, after work, and leave at approximately 10pm so as not to make a mess of it at work the next day. We essentially all knew each other having almost all being graduates of Makerere University. The few who weren’t definitely went to one of the ‘big six’ high schools and then headed overseas for college.
The banter was easy going and laughter was easy to come by. Walking round the circular was par for the course, but one took one’s time to complete the circuit as you met different friends, workmates and relatives along the way.
The ladies of the night were not absent for sure, but they were of the high class/ high cost variety and thus dressed appropriately to be able to hang out with this black professional crowd. And that was the other distinguishing feature of the jazz night, there were very few white expatriates who attended this weekly event and this possibly explained why the ladies of the night did not go for the ‘shakira’ look.
The DJ was the venerable Alex Ndaula, radio presenter extraordinaire from Capital Fm. His was the proverbial wild child of radio. His drunken late night Saturday funk show was legendary and eagerly awaited by all, equally for his brilliance as for his bitchy sparring with callers that he did not like.
At the Rock bar he kept to the smooth jazz genre of music and hardly ever said a word to anyone. He did not have to as the music compilations he played was what the office crowd needed to unwind half way through the work week.
That brings me back to Dave Koz, the American smooth jazz giant was a staple in kampala and ‘together again’ was guaranteed to get crowd in a joyful. I was no exception and carry that feeling till today….all the way in nairobi.