Club Djembe Bamako Reviews
Feb 15, 2007
Located in the Lafiabougou district of Bamako, Club Djembe (a.k.a. Djembe Club) is one of the premiere places to visit if you are seeking a true cultural experience. Club Djembe has relatively inexpensive drinks, plenty of seating near the dance floor and in the lounge area away from it and most importantly, excellent music that blends traditional djembe and instruments with modern afro-beat sounds. Musicians and artists rotate throughout the sets so you'll see plenty of the best that Bamako has to offer. This may be in part due to the fact that this is also the current home base of Mali's famous Super Rail Band and this is the place to prove your musicianship. You will experience the soulful sounds from djelis (also known as griots -- praise singers & historians) as they take turns singing traditional style along with the melodies played by the band.
To add to the spectacle, at times there will be dancers performing choreographed moves in unison in front of the stage on the dance floor. It is very entertaining to watch and the two men entertaining the night we went really had some great moves! They also mixed in traditional dance moves with more modern hip hop choreography. The single white gloves they wore a la Michael Jackson during one routine made it that much more fun albeit cheesy! They were a real inspiration and made you want to get up and dance with them.
While its dimly lit decor is not much to speak of, the ambience and the talent is what make this place outstanding. It is apparent almost immediately that you are in the presence of some of the finest musicians around. This club has had many famous musicians showcase their talents there. Although we didn't attend on a weekend, I'm told that the Super Rail Band plays there on most weekends. Of course, part of that ensemble is renowned guitarist Djelimady Tounkara so if you go at the right time, you may get to witness his world-famous skills as well as those of other famous artists such as Lobi Traore.
As with the majority of clubs in Bamako, it also has a brothel tucked towards the back. I asked a friend what it costs to spend some time with one of the 'ladies' and he told me it was in the range of around $3 USD. Pretty inexpensive fun for a man if you ask me but the risk of STDs seems a bit too high, especially considering that many parts of West Africa also are contending with the AIDS (SIDA in French) epidemic. If you go there with that in mind, go prepared and play protected!
Club Djembe was definitely my favorite out of the three clubs we visited during my stay there. It was exactly the cultural experience that I was looking for and will definitely be back the next time I go to Bamako!
Fortunately, there is video on YouTube showing footage of Club Djembe; check it out:
Part of the Bamako, Mali 2007 travel blog
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