In the area in front of the towering HQ of the nation's premier commercial bank, right from the Kwame Nkrumah roundabout towards Accra, lies a strip buzzing with fun and excitement. The crowd here is basically West African. Tons of Naija folks, a few French and lots of Liberians; this must be one of the few hotspots in the city with more foreigners than Ghanaians. The demographic is a wild mix of old and young, with the latter being the most dominant. Nightlife in the city does not get grimier than here.
A roadside pub caters for about five hundred party folks sitting on cheap plastic chairs and tables, most of which will probably end the night broken. The bar does not serve Moet, Hennessey or any other exotic cognac for that matter. Make no mistake however; the folks here probably make the beer companies more money than most other spots in the city. Table top bars are also common. They serve a surprising array of local spirits or 'bitters' for those with a stomach for the hardest liquor. There is the usual installment of “check check” fast food joints as well quite a number of “bread and egg” spots lining the streets; all that liquor is get your stomach churning before end of the night.
This place buzzes with fun and excitement every night of the year. The biggest night here is Monday nights, with a crowd of over a 1000 rave heads having their fun on the strip. Other nights quite easily average about 500 people. It may not be listed as one of Accra's yuppie havens for the city's bourgeois crowd but the folks who come here are not exactly broke. According to the owner of the roadside pub, which started out as a table top bar, most customers spend on average GHC 20 - 30 each night and most are regulars who chill out here every night. Cigarette stands are also common place and non-smokers will easily feel out of place in this crowd. The air is constantly misty with the smell of stale beer, cigarette smoke and the scent of cheap perfume mostly accentuated by the ladies on the ' front line.'
One of the main attractions around here is the premium red-light district. The most notorious in the city, they certainly give any man a lot to feast your eyes on all night. They come in various sizes, shapes and attractions. This business seems to defy all age restrictions. Some of the girls appear as young as 17 years old with other being as old as 45 years. Almost nude and determined to attract, a male customer will most likely have a pretty vixen asking to join him at his table within minutes of arriving or yet still have them whistling or pulling to get your attention. If you do oblige and go the extra mile by taking them home, one must be prepared to part with a few wads of Ghana Cedis. According to the street code here, the charges depend on your level determined by which part of the area you are allowed to operate from. The high class prostitute goes for about GHC100 for the whole night and about GHC30 for short-time [the street parlance for 1 hour service]; it is about GHC10 and GHC50 respectively if you find yourself on the cheap side. Suffice to say, it’s a perverts paradise.
On this particular night, I end up here purely by chance; having come to 'Honest Chef' right across the street and then being intrigued enough to join in the carnival. Cars line the streets competing for space with the “working sisters” and party people. Loud music blurs from a 2 piece machine that could do with a little tweaking on the baseline. The DJ works his music from a small set and seems very lost in his own tunes. So much so that he may not have realized that he kept repeating the same Naija joints over and over again. He however redeems himself with a repertoire of traditional Naija tunes and local tunes that would not necessarily get much airplay on radio but are good enough to get the party going. This crowd will party no matter, and the booze induced gyration and loud shouts of excitement will go on all night.
There is never a dull moment. A heated exchange between two 'sisters' over the supposed snatching of a boyfriend; a guy being heckled by another group of prostitutes for refusing to pay for service rendered and two beggars in a heated exchange with one accusing the other of taking money from a stranger she was supposed to have received. This is no fiction. On this side of town, scenes like these are nothing out of the ordinary. It is however not quite as dangerous as has been stereotyped over the years. Folks here are surprisingly nice. I had a few Naija guys join me at my table and before the end of the night we were chatting away like old buddies. Then again, what better way for men to form a friendship than over bottles of liquor and interesting conversation about beautiful women parading all around you?