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A German Cultural Programme Showed 'Big Night Out' in Nairobi

I called them up and asked them why.
November 13, 2013, 12:00pm

You know Big Night Out, right? It's that series of articles and short films we do where I stumble around British nightclubs trying to understand nightlife and being rude about people.

It's hard to feel truly "proud" of your work when you're being paid to get drunk. Sure, I'm very happy the way Big Night Out has gone in both its written and video incarnations, but when your peers are dodging bullets and documenting human rights violations, it's hard not to feel a little silly. The guy who sits behind me gets shot at for a living while I walk around Camden in a Libertines jacket for the lols.

However, when a German university said they wanted to show the Big Night Out video series at an event in Nairobi, I couldn't help but feel a distant prang of pride. Of course I was completely confused as well. I mean, how would all the references to dirty pints, Skibadee and Dimebag Darrell go down in East Africa? I called up the Goethe Institut's Moritz Kasper to see how many shades of indifference the films were greeted with.

Students at the Goethe-Institut screening of Big Night Out

VICE: Hi Moritz. Can you tell me a bit about the Goethe-Institut?
Moritz Kasper: The Goethe-Institut is the Federal Republic of Germany's cultural institution, which is operational worldwide. We promote knowledge of the German language abroad and foster international cultural cooperation by organising a broad variety of events.

Sounds great, but TBH that doesn't really explain why you'd want to show Big Night Out
We showed Big Night Out during a special edition of our TEN CITIES Screening Series, which shows numerous feature films and documentaries focusing on different aspects of club culture and subcultures around the globe. Because of the UK's enormous importance for the international music and club scene, Big Night Out was an entertaining, yet informative, addition to the series. And especially because it shows club and music-scenes that don't exist in Kenya.

My Nairobi debut.

Fair enough. I'm very flattered. Which episode do you reckon got the best response?
It's hard to say. Either "Psytrance" or "Student Disco".

Why do you think that was?
With "Psytrance", the concept of a psytrance party in a forest with all these "freaky" people and its circus character is something Kenyans might have never seen before. And "Student Disco", because the audience could relate to that at least a little bit. Kenyan student culture isn’t that different to the British one.

I kind of figured that loads of the UK culture references would confuse everyone. Was anything completely lost on the audience?
Not completely lost, but with "Gabber" as the first episode quite a few people were slightly shocked.

I can see two people laughing, which means this qualifies as an enormous success.

I think some people in the UK were probably quite shocked as well. What's the nightlife like in Nairobi?
Very different to British and European nightlife scenes. I can’t squeeze it into one answer, but with our TEN CITIES project we're working on a publication that talks about the nightlife scenes in ten cities, including Nairobi. There's already a short text about it on our website and Goethe-Institut Nairobi is publishing a book about Nairobi nightlife within the next few months.

Had anyone at the screening heard of VICE before?
To be honest, I don’t think VICE is very known here – maybe for guys who studied abroad. But, on the other hand, for those who know it or stumble upon it, VICE may open a door to new influences and a different way of journalism that’s very refreshing and might lead to new ideas.

That's good to hear. Finally, if you were to go on any of the big nights out, which would it be?
Psytrance – to unleash the hippie in me.

Thanks Moritz!

Follow Clive on Twitter: @thugclive

Watch all the Big Nights Out here:

Gabber

Drum 'n' Bass

Psytrance Rave in a Forest

The Drunken Student Disco

Metal

RIP Indie