Cocktail functions – the bane of corporate existence. I try to avoid them as much as I can, but to build your network, they are a necessary evil to be endured. The thing Michael Kors Handbags with cocktail functions in this town is that they will rarely surprise you. Cookie cutter culture. There must be a well-dusted handbook that folk use when organising such dos. Something passed down from generation to generation.
It’s the ribbons. It’s the same anaesthetic piped music. It’s the blue Michael Kors bags lighting. It’s the skinny girls at the entrance. Ushers, I believe they are called; they should be called Skinnies.
These ushers are a result of a well-worn assumption that ushers have to be skinny and light-skinned, because that’s what guests like with their aperitif. I don’t know Michael Kors uk about you, but it’s a bit disconcerting to eat your chicken wings with a skinny usher looking down at you. It would be nice to have some ushers who won’t be blown away by the fan. Who actually have colour in their faces.
Then the faces. The cocktail scene in Nairobi is frequented by the same faces, only dressed in different outfits. The same people who hug and kiss the air, because Michael Kors outlet they haven’t seen each other in ages. Ages here means they saw each other at last weekend’s function. These are the same people in all the Instagram photos you ‘liked’ two days ago. Socialites don’t come only in big asses, they come in the form of cocktail ghouls, the same people who seem to permanently be on the invite list. Folk who somehow manage to look that good in photos, because they just don’t take pictures like the rest of Michael Kors sale us; they pose according to the source of light.
Then there are the journalists. Sigh. I would like to throw stones at these chaps, but I live in a glasshouse. Journalists (we) always wear this laboured look at functions, the look that says, standing at cocktails is such a grand waste of our precious time, and we would rather be elsewhere banging copy. And we hate it when you have never heard of us. We really do. How dare you? Don’t you read?? Don’t you listen to the radio? Where do you live? Do you watch prime-time news? Goodness, I can’t stand in the face of such ignorance, I need a drink.
In every cocktail there is an invisible tier, just like in life. Not everybody is equal. You will notice the ‘high society’ huddled in small impenetrable groups holding their cocktail glasses in serviettes, avoiding the deep fried fare. You could join them but then you would have to join conversations about vacationing in Prague, which might be a challenge given that your last holiday was to Salgaa.
The universal law of cocktail functions is that people will gravitate towards who and what they know. Journalists will huddle together, fashionistas (people who dress better than everybody else because they threw on a scarf at the last moment) will stand in a small group comparing the colour of their pocket liners, and of course the newbies, sticking out like sore thumbs, clinging to their drinks, nervously surveying the room and feeling completely out of place.
Congregated in their little sorority are the belles, in their vogue high heels and thin brown legs, staring at the rest of the room from under their noses, spearing at passing trays of prawns with toothpicks, and nibbling away, all the while miraculously keeping their lipstick intact. Most are ex-models. Or models that are unknown. Or girls who look like models but aren’t models. Or girls who remind you of models but are actually lawyers or engineers. To deter predators in this group is usually some trendy chap with a moustache and hip gaudy kitenge coat probably designed by my man Kaveke.
These are the same people in the society pages of the newspapers. These ilk huddle in groups and laugh loudly, like they are having the time of their lives. They aren’t, I can assure you. It’s an urbane impressionist production. It’s the gallery, and you play to it. Or you go home. But it’s only 9.30pm, aint nobody going home just yet.
You should eavesdrop on what people actually talk about at such shindigs. It’s the same talk. In fact, there is a reason why it’s called small talk. So it’s; Oh, let’s get together soon for a drink. Oh, we should do something together. Oh, let’s do biashara soon. Oh, who is your dressmaker, they are very creative! (Later she will roll her eyes at the sheer waste of fabric on your torso). Oh, I know so and so, he might help you with that, here drop me an email tomorrow, I do an e-intro. Chitchat. Truth is nobody means anything they say at cocktails, especially after the third drink. It’s all lip service. Nobody actually intends to meet you for coffee after.
And if you are lucky. If the stars are aligned and you are really, really lucky you will finally meet all those famous chaps on Twirra. The ones who comment eruditely on anything and everything. The ones who will make you famous when they RT something you tweeted. Those with the numerous followers. Those chaps who are so brazen and smart and opinionated online, but who can barely look you in the eye now in the fading evening. They appear meek and vulnerable and you feel cheated. Which is exactly how it is to meet your favourite writers.
These are the same bigwigs on Twitter who insist on introducing themselves with their twitter handles, because at some point followers became social currency. There is something deeply gloomy about someone introducing themselves by their twitter handles.
Cocktails truly tire me because I hate crowds. Crowds stifle me. Also cocktails means that you have to work the room while avoiding being photographed. (Excuse me, my forehead shines in pictures.) They tire me since I don’t know how to do small talk, because I’m impatient, and I find it so hard to say things I don’t mean, and I rudely drift off in the middle of conversations. I will start thinking of something completely inappropriate, like if you are a chic and you have a black head on your face or one of those zits mamas get during their P’s, I will keep staring at it, resisting the urge to press it to determine how painful it is. I know, complete madness. And it’s rude. But there is something about those zits that seem to want to turn you into a saviour. I don’t know.
Anyway, as the night wears on, something extraordinary happens. Masks falls off. Folk loosen up. The belles across the room start cracking smiles through the cakes of makeup. The chaps from Prague might actually ask you what you do for a living, and to mess around, you tell them you work at a small gold-mine quarry in Ikolomani. Brit accent: “Oh, how exciting. So you are a geologist?”
“No, I’m a supervisor.”
As the night wears on there are more smiles. More laughter. The din of the room changes. More people throng into the designated bar area, and whilst there, someone might ask you, “Where did you get that?”
“What, this blazer?”
“No, that forehead.”
And you just can’t take offense.
Alcohol is the best thing ever invented. Everybody loosens up in its face. Ernest Hemingway said rather aptly that he drinks, “to make other people interesting.”
See you at the next cocktail function?
[Photo credit: Flickr]
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