Saturday morning was dulled by an early morning shower that showed no signs of stopping soon. To some it was a bad thing while to others, it was just another day. To the Jinja nightlife population, it was a day to grace the opening of a new discotheque, Club Velvet.
Jinja, until last weekend, had two discotheques that enjoyed patronage simply because they were the only option besides stepping out of town to go clubbing. Issues of service and “class “were always fronted by the affluent patrons yet the owners didn’t see any need to invest on trivial issues. Velvet answered some of the questions especially the ones about class and service when they set out to evolve BaxLyf into this new facility.
As early as 8pm, patrons started heading to Velvet. The club is set up in a weird location and our guess is that some needed to locate the place early enough. If you’ve been to Jinja Sailing Club, the club is in that neighborhood only that you have to move towards the Civil Service College. It’s not easy giving directions to the place but your boda guy should know the place. And if you don’t “do bodas” ask for any guy that was there to help you out.
By midnight, the spacious club seemed small as patrons continued getting in one by one. The thing about Jinja’s nightlife population is that it is the same and they know each other. Once something comes up, it’s a matter of sending a WhatsApp message to one guy and by the time you know it, everyone knows. Basically, a few people knew and they let their friends know… then the whole town knew. The only limitation here is that one had to part with a 20k to get in, much to the annoyance of some bar residents. “Why do I have to pay 20k? Why? These people need to give us membership cards”, lamented one.
In a nutshell, putting the process aside, the result was that Velvet was a full house! And satisfied they were. Yes, everyone we spoke to seemed to be having a great time at the well lit and furnished club. There were happy people in the lounges, happy people on the dance floor, happy people at the bar counter, and happy people waiting to get in. Everyone seemed contented with what they had.
The crowd for the opening night was a mix of campusers, kayoola, and the guys that know how to party with class. It must have been hard for the latter group; everywhere they looked their eyes landed on “weird” people. When they wanted to break a leg, they would be stepped on by “weird” people. When they sought solace in the lounges, they had “weird” people looking in their direction. It wasn’t easy for them. It’s no wonder we saw some guys that subscribe to this group come in and walk out immediately. Notable among them was self styled Red Label ambassador, Eddie Magala, who stepped in with his entourage but didn’t last 5 minutes inside. He simply said hi to some guys seated at the bar counter and walked out; the “weird people had occupied all available options for him to sit down with his crew.
The service, given the unexpected huge turn up, was okay. We can’t say it was the best but hey, it was an opening night; there’s a lot of room for them to improve there. The security also was spot on, both in and out of the club. The only security mishap we noted was that the bouncers employed for the night do not seem to have been on the job for long; they look fresh in the game and that is not a good thing (remember the Johnny saga in Guvnor?). Our thinking is that the club might have to invest in seasoned bouncers. The security in the car park was okay since no one reported missing headlamps or indicators.
The DJs had trouble understanding the kind of crowd they had. Yes, you and I saw guys breaking a leg here and there but that was after throwing in a few drinks. It was a blunder on the part of management to bring in DJs from Kampala, who did not have the slightest idea of what the nightlife in Jinja was like. We had a chance to speak to one of the DJs, Bash DJ, and he told us point-blank that he had never been to Jinja! Velvet opening was his first time in Jinja! You cannot really expect much from such a person even when you’re a world renowned Dj, there’s a need to get to understand the environment and its dynamics even to the smallest percentage; it helps. The other two DJs suffered the same problem and just had to make do with what their Kampala crowd takes.
The sound itself wasn’t its best. There is a lot of feedback in the club and even when it was packed, you could get it. We are not technical to decipher this but at least we know that a more sound proofing and fine tuning can do the magic here. It’s no wonder Ziza Bafana came in as a surprise act but later declined to perform. Maro swallowed all pride and made do with whatever. He performed for a crowd that was already tipsy and didn’t mind what was given to them, as long as they were inside.
All in all, it was a great opening night for Velvet and we can only wait to check them out over time. It might be the place Jinja has been missing (we said “might”). For a first night, everything seemed to play out for Velvet. All the people we spoke to gave the place and night high scores on a scale of 1-10 with the only exception being the club’s proximity to town and its location.