Where to party in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, according to one local DJ and nightlife host.
After years of political turbulence, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is booming with creativity. While guidebooks may recommend any number of historic tours, those in the know also visit Addis Ababa’s many art galleries and studios, where creative entrepreneurs work hard to bring Ethiopian art to the world stage.
But art isn’t the only industry recently revamped by Addis’s most innovative residents: Nightlife is also experiencing a surge of innovation at the hands of creatives who want to party for a purpose.
One of those leading the way is Maya Misikir, an event organizer whose gatherings constantly bring new music and new ideas to Addis. She’s the driving force behind Unusual DJs, a collective that puts on widely-acclaimed monthly parties featuring electronic DJs at Face of Addis, a hilltop venue known for breathtaking sundown views of Addis Ababa. She also hosts another monthly party, WAX, that offers up reggaeton and Afro-house beats, and recently worked with her sister to co-found the Ethiopian offshoot of Spittoon, a Beijing-based arts collective that hosts poetry nights.
“I put on the events that aren’t happening here, that I want to happen here, the kind of things I want to go to,” Misikir explains. Before Unusual DJs, Addis’s nightlife was dominated by fancy nightclubs with a dress code and the house-techno scene was limited to house parties. Now, propped-up by the success of Unusual DJs, electronic, house, and afrobeat nights are much more accessible.
But Misikir isn’t motivated solely by making musical waves with her events. Her real focus is on creating safe spaces that enable freedom and self-expression for all those that attend. Her parties have a zero-tolerance policy towards any harassment, as well as volunteers people can approach if they feel uncomfortable at any point.
“At my events, as long as you are not overstepping anyone else’s boundaries, you do you, whatever the hell that means for you,” Misikir says. Below, her seven favorite places to go out in Addis Ababa, where a good time, good vibes, and good party ethics always go hand-in-hand.
Hit up monthly party series WAX for reggaeton and Afro-house beats that’ll give you the best dance workout of your life.
2. Unusual DJs
Addis’ original electronic music event, Unusual DJs throws monthly parties with a zero-tolerance policy for harassment at hilltop venue Face of Addis. Go for the grooves or for the sunset view.
At this popular hilltop venue, dance from dusk until dawn alongside locals with spectacular views of Addis Ababa.
This Beijing-based arts collective has offshoots all over the world, including in Gothenburg, Lisbon, and Addis Ababa. Along with publishing a magazine and comics and allowing community submissions, Spittoon hosts regular parties and events like book clubs, poetry-music slams, and more.
A playful monthly party that delivers disco, old skool, and electro nights in the gardens of local club Juventus. Get updates on Monkey Business’s upcoming club nights on Instagram.
A cozy, textile and animal-hide filled space that packs out on Friday, Saturday and Monday nights for performances of traditional music and Ethio-Jazz. Go to dance, make a new friend, or check out some art at the on-site gallery.
Thursday nights should be spent enjoying the premiere Afro-Jazz at the Ghion Hotel. The hotel is a relic of 60s kitsch, and an evening in the bar is truly an experience: The space is striking, the drinks flow, and the music will get you moving.