Dar es Salaam abounds in crazy nightlife opportunities. Anybody who has been on a Tanzania holiday will attest to the fact that although Dar es Salaam does not boast many cafes or bars there are quite a number of decent watering holes within the city centre.
A typical evening out in Dar es Salaam starts with the consumption of a large plate of goat roast, chicken, beef mishkaki (kebabs), or chipsi mayai (a French Fries omelette). While these options are relatively sober, the other end of the evening involves the consumption of utumbo (intestine) soup with fresh hot peppers sometime around 6 or 7 am.
Dar es Salaam has an excellent restaurant scene. The melee of cuisines in Dar es Salaam hotels include the spicy savor of a strong Indian legacy as well as Zanzibari and Arabic tastes being well represented due to the large number of immigrants into the city. East African trends persisting, specialties here include “nyama choma” and “mishkaki,” and restaurants characteristically double up as nightclubs.
There are many music genres in the clubs of Dar es Salaam. The clubs along the outskirts of town are particularly geared toward Tanzanians. Downtown though, nightclubs are more aware of Western tastes, as this is where most of the tourists and locals of European descent reside.
Clubs generally do not come alive till around 11pm, but most offer late food. As is the trend in East Africa most clubs close at around 3 or 4am, although the city centre clubs stay open till dawn at weekends. Dar es Salaam is relatively safe to walk around at night but one should never really walk alone.
Popular clubs tend to rise up with grand openings and close within months of their openings due to mismanagement of lack of economic viability but the good ones remain reliable and the verdict on them is unanimous: they’re fabulous.
Undoubtedly some of the most popular clubs in Dar are Club Bilicanas and Much More. Both usually crowded on weekends and play a mixture of R&B, hip hop and Bongo Flava (local swahili music). The clubs are so popular among people on Dar es Salaam tours and safaris.
Mixing it up in Masaki means you can mingle and dance to live music at Dar stalwart Q Bar or dance till dawn on open air dance floors at Garden Bistro and Mambo Club, where you can also eat till late. A local favourite is Bar One. You can also visit Club Maisha, which is near Q Bar and Hotel Karibu. It’s open from Thursday till Sunday with Bongo Flava music and R&B.
Live music rocks The Slipway on most nights of the week but the show is usually over before midnight. If you happen to be in that direction near Oyster Bay, try Sweet ‘n Easy, a nice club situated on a rooftop, with a mixed audience.
Thursday nights are packed, sweaty and sociable and there is passable live music on Fridays. It is a popular bar/club with great food. If your purpose is late night dancing; next to the Ugandan High Commission in Oyster Bay, Trinity is a new-ish bar and club with garden seating and eclectic, dance music, mostly catering to Eurocentric tastes.
Sports fans can feel at home at California Dreamer and Sugar Rays – sports bars which showcase an unbiased array of world sports. The best nights are no doubt when the Tanzanian boxers step out in their chest thumping glory.
More intrepid travellers should try out local dance clubs in the city centre. Hotel bars at the Kilimanjaro Hotel and New Africa Hotel are a good bet for cocktails. Both hotels have casinos, but you could as well try the more atmospherically seedy Las Vegas Casino.