by Don Ngetich , Nairobi

by Don Ngetich , Nairobi

Kenya’s Women’s Only Dance Parties Are Safe Havens not only for Lesbians but for all Girls.

18 Aug, 2019

by Don Ngetich , Nairobi

Evening partying in the warm Nairobi suburbs has now been given a new face; lately, you will come across women’s only dance parties with normal music playing loudly but only women present and dancing.

“The place is now women only. In a place with men, one has to be very careful and strict because men will interfere with us,” Says Rita, 25, who’s come to party with her best friend Jane.

“So having such a place where it’s girls only immediately makes one to feel safe and one feels that she’s with people who understand one another.”

Security is tight and no men are let in, they can only come and drop off the women they’re accompanying.

And it’s not just the partygoers who adhere strictly to the women’s only single-sex policy; the bar tenders, DJs, MCs, sound mixers, security officers, and ushers are also all women.

Sexual Harassments

“When I learnt about this safe haven, I immediately signed up,” Says Jane.
Rita and Jane enjoy clubbing and they say that they heard about the women-only dance party on twitter.

The women’s night party, known as Strictly Silk, was conceived by Njeri Gitungo, Njoki Ngumi and Akati Khasiani, all who are members of the arts collective called The Nest Collective.

The group started the women’s only dance parties in 2018 but what inspired them was more than simply organizing a night of fun.

“2018 was a difficult year for a lot of Kenyan women. There were a lot of news about violence and people becoming bolder about misogyny online and offline,” States Ms. Ngumi.

“There were quite a number of stories around sexual harassment. We just wanted to curate this energy in celebration of women in places that are not usually safe for women and especially things to do with nightlife,” She adds.

Recently, Kenya has also been in the spotlight with some well publicized cases of rape and alarming femicide cases.

In 2018, international charity Plan International ranked Nairobi sixth among 22 global cities where women were most likely to be sexually harassed.

The interviewed experts said Kenyan women stood a 50% chance of being sexually harassed in public spaces.

Not only for lesbians

Munira, 22 and Khadija, 25 are best friends. As practising Muslims, they often find themselves with minimal options when it comes to night life.

They say that, although women from all faiths attend the all-women parties, they particularly suit Muslims.

"Some of us have to remove our hijabs to blend in when we are out dancing. When they see you with a hijab, people are surprised and wonder what you are doing there.

"A space like this is also better because we are forbidden from freely mingling with men," Khadija says.

"It's difficult because there are simply no exclusive all-women clubs," adds Munira.
Although all-women dance parties may seem like a novel concept, the idea of exclusive safe spaces for women is not new.

Ms Ngumi asserts that Indian, arab cultures and even some religions like Islam, have long had exclusive spaces for women, although these spaces were mediated by patriarchal or religious systems.

Safety for LGBT members

"We are deliberately queer-affirming and queer-celebrating but people would imagine that this is an exclusive queer event. There are events that are exclusively queer but this is not that kind of party. We welcome all people, including non-binary people."

It's an assurance that those in the LGBT community, who face intimidation and even violence in public in Kenya, have openly embraced.

Gay sex is illegal in Kenya and punishable by up to 14 years in prison.