Exploring the nightlife

I didn't plan to have a late night this weekend, but when I went to bed Saturday night it was quickly clear that I had no hope of getting to sleep, as somewhere nearby was a very loud party.

I was pretty sure that Orchestra Baobab would be playing at Just4U, and had seen a sign earlier in the day that suggested that Cheikh Lo would be playing at Pen'Art (though it said 'ce soir' and at 10am that could well have been left over from the previous day), and as both were walkable from home thought now would be an excellent time to try one of them out. I really had no idea whether or not this part of Dakar was safe to wander around in at night, but there was a big bright moon so at least I wouldn't be in danger of tripping over, which would probably be the biggest risk on a dark night. It appears that each property is responsible for its own pavement area, which means the quality, style, cleanliness, even the existence, of paving varies every few yards. Some properties don't bother so there may be just sand, or piles of rubble, whereas others make a real effort and lay coloured mosaics and plant trees (though strangely in the working class Medina there seem to be regular, well-mainained pavements - perhaps the authorities are responsible there). It means that you have to constantly watch where you are stepping, and with the only artificial light coming from shop signs it would make walking around on a dark night quite difficult.

But back to the nightlife. As it is cold enough at this time of year to need a cardigan (or similar) once the sun goes down, I thought I would go to Just4U as this is outside (Pen'Art is indoors, and I didn't fancy dancing with my cardigan tied round my waist all night...). US$6 for entry, and US$2 for a coke, didn't seem a bad price to watch Orchestra Baobab live, whom I would happily have paid an awful lot more to see play live on one of their rare trips to London. The venue is an outdoor 'garden' with a small stage, chairs grouped around tables, two bars and I think a kitchen somewhere as I saw food being taken past. I noticed how many white people were there - probably more than I had seen up until then in the whole of Dakar, although still just about in a minority. I was talking to a Senegalese man later in the evening, who said he only went there very rarely, as it was so expensive - I guess that partly explains the racial mix.

I had enjoyed listening to my Pirates' Choice CD by Orchestra Baobab, and they played many songs from that. But extended, and in some cases made more Senegalese, for example by extended mbalax-style drumming, or in one case by a man from the audience who joined them on stage to add some griot-style singing to one track. Some people got up to dance, including a middle-aged man in black tie, a drunken man in a billowing blue boubou (the traditional Senegalese outfit), a woman in a glittery backless floor-length gown, and various other people in jeans. Such a great mixture! It was an excellent evening overall, and I will certainly go there again. Just such a shame that the Senegalese start their nights out so late; Orchestra Baobab came on stage about 1am and I got home at 4am. Not something I would do every weekend! (& the party near my house was still going when I got home...)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I'm keeping track of you and enjoy reading your 'diary' so keep it up.

Hope your visit back to the UK was fruitful.