After 50, They Re-Engineer Their Socialising

She seductively dances up close to his crouch, hair flailing in the air as she touches her head and rolls her eyes.

She exudes energy and looks like she wants to jam all night long, though her dancing partner doesn’t look one bit as aggressive. She often lets loose and screams whenever her favourite song plays, but he is doing none of it. His body language though suggests he would love to, but for some reason, he remains calm. Maybe he has a reputation to think about and probably doesn’t want to be seen screaming for a song.

Arguably at the other side of 50, he doesn’t do much in this club other than buying drinks and looking after them whenever his female companion hits the dancing floor with other people she came with. Later on, when the music gets too loud, they exchange a few words and he leaves the nightclub.

This is a common script that plays out by the day in almost every city hangout – men at the sunset of their lives proving that age is just a number.

You will rarely catch any of them in a high- tempo spot such as Club 256 or Club Venom. The idea is avoiding hanging out in the same places their children would. They would rather go to places their children would never go to because of being disqualified by the cost implications and the genres of music played there.

Earlier in the days, people would usually consider that they had hit life’s ceiling when they turned 50. This is the time they would care less about enjoying their hard-earned cash, let alone celebrate their lives.

Rural pub:

However things are fast changing. Today, when people click the big five-0-plus, with much of the responsibility such as rent, tuition and baby worries out of the way, it is like they are reborn. In fact, many claim 50 is now the new 30.

Just a few weeks back, a gathering of people who had clocked the age of 50 and above was held at the UMA main hall. Dubbed 50+ Twejjukize, the event brought out the wild side of some of them, winding the clock back as some took to dancing to Afrigo band’s music and sharing jokes about Idi Amin.

Gerald Mukasa, however, wasn’t at the Twejjukize party. Now 49 years old, he will be adding on the big ‘0’ in February. A lawyer by profession, he believes he hasn’t gained a lot from his trade he doesn’t own huge cars or an exaggeratedly big house with expansive lawns.

His eldest son, 27, is already living away from his home, and the other one, 22, is under the brother’s guidance. Without much responsibility to worry about, he goes out quite often. He notes that before his sons joined university, he used to go to the regular clubs, simply to keep in touch with whatever was trending at the time.

“I would wind the day up from there, but the music was usually too loud and I never understood the lyrics,” he says.

These days, Mukasa spends most of his time at home, but whenever he feels like hanging out, he prefers the bars nearer his home in Gayaza. At these rural pubs, however classy they get, he says, you will rarely find the skimpily dressed or glamour girls. It is more like many of such types prefer to have their fun in the city centre.

“They [rural pubs] also play music we understand, not that Nigerian stuff,” he says.

Nevertheless, Mukasa notes that coming up with the decision to ditch the city joints didn’t come that easily. He very much used to enjoy regularly having a loose evening. But one day, he went out to a bar where the DJ was playing reggae videos.

“Everything was good until he played a very ‘dirty’ Ugandan song.”

Feeling disgusted as well as embarrassed, he stormed out of the bar. Mukasa notes that he wasn’t disgusted because the video was obscene, but because he was watching it with boys and girls fit to be his children. Since then, Mukasa has been a fan of very rural bars, which, he argues, usually have people in his age bracket.

Embarrassing encounters:

There are those, however, who feel they can give the younger generation a run for their money. So they elect to go to quite expensive night spots where they are sure their children will not afford to hang out.

Francis Peter Ojede, executive director, Uganda National Cultural Centre (UNCC), is probably one such person. Since he became a father, Ojede, who looks like he is in his late 40s, has worked on his image, trying to make it exemplary, and therefore only hangs out with his contemporaries.

During one of his trips to Club Guvnor (then Ange Noir) with four of his friends, they were confronted by an indecently-dressed young girl attempting a dirty dance. To make matters worse, the five men were all in the company of their spouses.

“We walked out of the club and since then, we have dictated our own idea of fun,” he says, adding that most times they go out to a very quiet place for the weekend and there, they are sure they won’t bump into their own daughters, sons or their friends.

Sometimes they all decide they will have their fun at one of their own homes, and as such make it their fun hub, at least for one day during the weekend. Mukasa too has once been caught out in an embarrassing situation. In a bid to show his younger brother that he wasn’t really the boring type, he took him out to this new joint he had recently discovered.

Eager to impress his brother, Mukasa even spiced up his story a little bit.

“I told him the bar was my regular spot.”

But as they were sipping their beers towards midnight, the lights suddenly went dim and in trooped a bevy of girls who proceeded to strip.

“Now, I had no idea this even happened in Kampala,” Mukasa laments.

He badly wanted to take back all he had said about being a regular, but it was too late. About this, Ojede says it is not simply about being embarrassed that you are watching naked women, but as a parent, you start imagining that the dancers are some parents’ daughters.

Outing with offspring:

Being an executive at the UNCC though, which directly controls the National theatre, has somewhat helped Ojede, at least in as far as stage plays are concerned. He gets to know which productions will be staged and their content.

“I love comedy, I feel very comfortable watching them with my family,” he says, especially with the Thursday sessions done by Fun Factory.

He notes that the reason why elders run away from some places is not necessarily because of their sons and daughters, but what the right-thinking members of the public will think, in case pictures of such events, and their audiences, emerge in the media.

“We are living in the times where things can end up online just within minutes,” he points out.

Ojede, though, believes there should be a middle ground where parents are not necessarily running away from their party-prone sons and daughters. In his view, much of this is happening because of a generational divide. He notes that though not everything the hi-tech generation is involved in is that appealing, some can be absorbed, even by the elders.

“It is a generational thing, and we need to appreciate them the way they are,” he says.

Some parents have fast realised this fact and on many occasions will be seen making an appearance with their sons or daughters. MP Mukasa Mbidde and daughter Susan Naava, also socialites Frank Gashumba and daughter Sheilah, are good examples. They go out and party as family, even when the occasion may seem way out of the elders’ league.

Source : The Observer

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