News Blog

You can keep up with the latest project developments from the people on the ground making them happen via the BWB Blog. We want to hear from you and welcome your comments.
The Motomoto Circus Performers-Keep Reading to see the video.  
PROJECTS BLOG 11/09/2009

Motomoto Cirucus-First Performance in a Hotel

I have moved and am now living about a 5 minute walk from the kids I work with. I now live in a entirely Muslim section of town and am feeling like I am back to square one in some ways in terms of getting to know the local culture. Because of my skin color everyone calls me Mzungu (semi-derogatory word for foreigner) and thinks I am a tourist with loads of cash.

The coast around Mombasa is lined with hotels and clubs for the tourist industry. Our aim is to get some auditions and eventually get some regular shows to provide a steady income for the youths. The advanced performance troupe is made up of  three Kenyan fire dancers and two percussionists in their early twenties – but we are trend setting and hope this opens the doors for many more.

We spent the last two weeks walking – at least 6 miles a day in blistering heat – trying to get to see the management of hotels. It turns out I am lightly pigmented and not built for equatorial UVB radiation. (but sunscreen helps!)


Getting street living Kenyans into these hotels with me is not easy. If I wasn’t there they wouldn’t get past security and even then we often had to wait outside for the entertainment manager to come speak with us.

Thatched roofs are a fire hazard. Most places are so worried about their roofs they won’t even let us perform on the beach 30 feet away.

Our first hotel performance….

Hotels want free demos – even though the paraffin and transport out there is expensive. But in this case I finally managed to convince the entertainment manager of a 4 star hotel to help us out. We were to have an audition (in front of guests …..) for 1000 shillings – which would cover our costs. Confirmed … double confirmed. I invited a ton of people and managers from other hotels. But then around 2pm in the afternoon right after I had burnt a CD for our music the manager at the hotel calls and say no.

Me: No? Really why?!

Him: ..hesitation… “Because we don’t have enough guests to get feedback.”

Me: Look, we are ready and willing to do the show for just you. We just want to show you what we can do.

Him: Umm thats nice, but it just looks like we are going to have 4 guests.

Me: Ok, how about we reduce the price. I have guests coming to see it.

Him: Oh .. thats nice. but we want to pay you – but maybe some other time.

Me: Can I call you back?

(check how much cash I have on me…. call back)

Me: How about we do it for free?

Him: Thats sounds great. See you at 9.

….. Cool … sorta. We really need to get the exposure and open the door – so I figured it was worth it.

(I am trying to get our students ‘independent’ making money for themselves … so me sponsoring shows feels like a step backward .. unless it turns out to get them a contract.)

…. So after much a due. Rounding up everyone. Buying the paraffin. Doing a last minute rehearsal. Taking several buses traveling for about an hour. We arrive. Two of the kids had never even seen such a fancy hotel. They were quite and wide eyed. I felt a bit like blacking out.

I went and asked for the manager. He had gone home ….. bad sign.

Finally this other guy came out. Big guy, looked like a bouncer. Stood there hesitantly and slightly angry – Twirled the gold chain around his neck.

Him: We don’t really have enough guests tonight. Sorry.

Me: Really? We came all this way.

Him: Yeah sorry. We just wouldn’t be able to get enough feedback about the show.

Me: We would be happy to just show it to you in the parking lot. We have one guest here that came just to see the show. (she had just shown up)

Him: Ok wait. I’m coming back.

(He walks off in a hurry)

… we wait. . . . I have a slight relief feeling … (at least I can go to sleep early tonight . . .)

Finally a woman comes out and say. “I am to show you to the private party”.


So we are lead out of the lobby past the several pools and finally shown a room where we are to perform. There are about 30 people in there and look like Kenyan officials. Hmmmmmmm……

We get ready. Had over our CD. Run through our program. Just 3 individual dances. The performance space is really a little too small and the roof is thatched.

All of a sudden they are on and I am video taping their performance.

The Audience starts in a hush. The DJ begins to mumble …. “fire show” … “Look at this amazing fire show” … over an over .. its kinda surreal.

Our first performer finishes and the as the next starts – the audience gets more and more animated. The only ‘fire shows’ they are used to are very short acts of, fire breathing … I think they just didn’t know what to make of it.

You can Click Here to see the Motomoto Circus Hotel Performance

Three of our kids perform and we are out. The crowd LOVED it. The manager who told us to leave earlier was in shock and told us he would get us some money next week and book us again and again.


Want to help Will and the boys get to and from shows and buy more parafin?  Click here to donate!


One Response to “Motomoto Cirucus-First Performance in a Hotel”

  1. moto circus in a hotel.. awesome /:) i wanna see that ..