Ebola Couldn’t ‘Turn Down’ Liberia’s Nightlife for Long
On a warm Friday night in Paynesville, a Liberian community founded by settlers from the United States and their descendants 150 years ago, music is thumping from all directions. An Ebola-induced curfew was lifted about two weeks ago and young Liberians are thronging in the thousands to enter Royal Plus, a nightspot not far from a series of emergency Ebola treatment units on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia’s capital. These hulking facilities line the long route to Monrovia from the country’s international airport, which continues to be serviced by only a handful of the international carriers that made stops in Liberia before the height of the Ebola crisis.
While the economic effects of Ebola have been significant, the country has reached the halfway mark to a declaration of being Ebola free and Monrovia’s youth are now ready to have fun. As Takun J, one of the leading proponents of Liberian urban music, known locally as ‘hip-co,’ notes, “We can’t escape from entertainment.” Despite the challenges wrought by Ebola, Takun’s nightspot, Block 146, remained open throughout the crisis. Live performances, beauty pageants, and film-house screenings are starting to resume as normal. Indicative of this shift, the line for admission into Royal Plus is dozens deep, despite an admission fee of 200 Liberian dollars, which at more than $2 U.S. is greater than the daily incomes of most Liberians.