Nairobi’s First Stripper

About the year 1948, Nairobi had one very popular nightclub called the 400 Club that, with new management, changed its name to The Travellers Club. The new manager sought the permission of the Michael O’Rourke, the then Commissioner of Police, to employ a professional strip-tease dancer on a short assignment. Michael had a preview of the act and gave his permission on condition that the Club staff should be excluded from the performance. (That was the way things were in those far-off days).

The show was a great success with full houses almost every night. Eventually, for the final performance by this somewhat overweight lady who was certainly past her prime, she promised to put on a fan dance. There was standing room only for the customers. Sure enough, about midnight, all the staff were sent home and a small low platform about the size of a coffee table was brought onto the stage with a curtain all around it.

The lights dimmed, seductive music was played, the curtains opened and the lady proceeded to dance with a pair of huge ostrich feather fans that hid her attractions from view. At the end of the dance, the lady was back on the platform and then simultaneously she threw the fans apart, the lights went out and the curtains closed. There was tremendous applause and yells of, “Encore, encore!”

Then after a few minutes the lights dimmed again, the seductive music started and the curtains opened. However, instead of the stripper, who should appear with the fans and dressed only in his jockey underpants was none other than the manager of the then National Bank of India (these days called the Kenya Commercial Bank) by name Ollie Mitchell. He too was overweight – in fact very large. But by general consent he was a better dancer than the lady and received even greater applause.

Nevertheless, his directors were not amused and the following day Ollie was transferred to manage the new branch of the bank in Bukoba, Tanganyika.

Michael Aronson, Nairobi