After alarming rates of femicide and sexual harassment in Kenya, these three women came together to create an all-female dance party in Nairobi where women can let lose without the unwanted attention of men. Founded by Njoki Ngumi, Njeri Gatungo, and Akati Khasiani, these organized parties help empower women and give them a safe space to enjoy nightlife.
Hosted in a Nairobi suburb, the dance party was labeled as Strictly Silk and there are absolutely no men allowed. All of the employees working the event, from bartenders to security to DJ’s, are all women. One woman by the name of Jane told BBC, “You have to be so 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.”
The founders, Ngumi, Gatungo, and Khasiani are all apart of The Nest Collective, an art collective based out of Kenya that works to empower women in all facets of art including film, music, and fashion. According to BBC, they began throwing the all-women parties in 2018 after risks of sexual harassment grew.
According to Ngumi, people began being more openly misogynistic online and there were more reports of violence against women. BBC reported that in 2018, Kenyan women had a 50% chance of being sexually harassed on the streets and other public places.
The reason Strictly Silk is so important, however, is because of all the public places, nightclubs are of the most dangerous and threatening for women. “This is a worldwide issue. There are conversations around the toxicity of club culture and nightlife particularly towards women, gender identity and orientation,” Ngumi told BBC. “As we shift towards mainstream club culture, we must have spaces that celebrate women both exclusively and in the mainstream.”
These female only dance parties also lend a hand to being a more inclusive for all women. For the Muslim population in Nairobi, it serves as a place that is both fun and functional. “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. A space like this is also better because we are forbidden from freely mingling with men,” Khadija, a 25-year-old Muslim woman, told BBC.
Ngumi, Gatungo, and Khasiani are planning to spread these dance parties all across Africa. Many of the women attending the party felt a grand sense of liberation and fear-free enjoyment.