Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of The Nest Collective
A New Event In Kenya Is Creating Safe Nightlife Spaces For Women
There is a new event in Nairobi, Kenya devoted to women having safe nightlife spaces.
Strictly Silk was created by Njoki Ngumi, Njeri Gitungo, and Akati Khasiani, who are all members of the Kenyan arts collective known as The Nest Collective.
The all-women dance party started in 2018 for a very important reason. Founder Njoki Ngumi says, “2018 was a difficult year for a lot of Kenyan women. There were a lot of stories about violence and people were becoming bolder about misogyny online and offline.”
She goes on to say, “There were a lot of stories around sexual harassment. We just wanted to curate this energy in celebration of women in spaces that are not usually welcome for women and especially things to do with nightlife.”
Kenya has been in the public eye in recent years because of rape cases and an alarming amount of femicides. Nairobi was ranked #6 of 22 cities globally where women were more likely to be sexually harassed, according to Plan International in 2018. Women were reported as having a 50 percent chance of being sexually harassed while in a public space. The Federation of Women Lawyers Kenya recorded over 50 cases of femicide in 2019 during the first five months.
Strictly Silk is held in a residential outdoor space with a dance floor. Jane, one of the attendants of the party, tells BBC, “You have to be super strict in a place with men. You just want to go out with your friends and men interfere. So having a space where it’s all women immediately feels safe and you feel you are with people who understand you.”
Music plays loudly and women are able to dance without worrying about being harassed at men at this female event.
There are security guards present and the only men allowed in are the ones dropping off women who are attending — the men are asked immediately after.
Another great aspect of the party is all bartenders, security, DJs, sound mixers, MCs and ushers are women.
This space is also welcoming ad safe to Muslim women and lesbians.
“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,” says one of the party-goers, Khadija.
Since starting Strictly Silk, there have been rumors that it’s just a code for a gay party. Ngumi dispels this misconception, saying: “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.
Ngumi has hopes to expand the all-women dance party to other parts of Africa. She says: “This is a worldwide issue. There are conversations around the toxicity of club culture and nightlife particularly towards women, gender identity and orientation. As we shift towards mainstream club culture, we must have spaces that celebrate women but exclusively and in the mainstream.”