Street party

Bamako Travel Blog

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Isaiah and Abdoulaye not letting Tewah nap

After another of Tewah's excellent dinners, Jeremy, Isaiah and I went to the 'play room' outside to have a djembe session. We were having a great time and Isaiah was thoroughly entertaining as always with his antics and funny faces. We were having fun letting him pick the rhythms he wanted to play and being his accompaniment while he either soloed on the djembe like a mad man or got up and danced around like the goofball he is. After some goofing off, we started in with the rhythm mendiani and got really into it. We easily played the same rhythm for nearly an hour in a really intense session. By the time we stopped, we could hear sound we previously had played right over.  It was the sound of a major sound system nearby. We peaked out of the gate to see that an entire section of the street was then blocked off by hoards of onlookers and tall speakers blasting out the latest hip hop tunes from America and West Africa.

Good times!
Everyone was dressed in their finest 'club' wear and lithe Malian women wore bright mini-dresses while the men wore their cleanest 'streetwear', it seems the younger generation is largely influenced by Western culture unfortunately. What was odd about the music is that the DJ would only play snippets of a song, he'd never let one play through and it seemed one could never quite get into it because of that. First, you'd hear a minute Shakira's 'Hips Don't Lie', then a minute of 2Face's 'African Queen' and another minute of one of Akon's popular tunes. Even odder than the snippets of music was the 'party games' being played at this street dance.

It went something like this: A row of about a dozen young men, probably in their late teens, lined up approximately 10 yards (meters) across from a row of young women of about the same age range and in equal number. The DJ would play a song and however it had been previously determined, one of the men would come out dancing, showing off his moves as he headed across to the ladies' line. He would dance up to the girl of his choice and they would dance provocatively with eachother for just the briefest moment before he danced back to his spot in line. This continued for each young man in the line and there must've been some rule that each girl had to be picked so none would be left out since everyone seemed to get a turn. Of course, all of these young people were very attractive so no one would really be disappointed with who they danced with. Once the men finished up this first display, it was time for the ladies to do the same. New songs played through in more snippets and the first young woman danced over to the man of her choosing. And again, this continued until every woman had danced with one of the men. Then, it switched up a bit.

During this next round, one of the men would dance over to a woman, they'd dance provocatively for a minute and she'd set out across to the other side where she took his empty place.  This continued until every participant had switched sides. The games went on like this for quite a while as the neighborhood looked on. I held a now sleepy Isaiah who had tired of being up towards the front where he could get a better view. As the party went on, the age range of the men and women facing eachother gradually got older. It went from the late teens, then those in their early 20s and finally the men and women in their mid to late 20s. It seems not many women in their later 20s are available to head out to a street party since the men were outnumbering the women.  In what seemed to be the finale of this party game, the oldest men participating in the game began to strut their stuff and show off their dance moves. Then further grandstanding ensued as some of the men did one arm push ups in the dirt road. All kind of flexing and flaunting was going on. While I of course enjoyed it, it was also somewhat laughable since it was just so ostentatious. After enjoying the muscles, it was time for Isaiah and I to go back to the house which was also only steps away. Everyone else had tired of the scene and went back before us. I carried an exhausted little boy into the house and he was put to bed. Soon after, I laid down too and somehow drifted to sleep even with the heavy, thumping bass. I'd wake up at times but was tired enough to be able to go back to sleep. The street party easily lasted till 3 or 4 in the morning since it seemed to go all night long before finally shutting down. Party-goers were likely slinking home with only a couple hours before the sun came up.

kelleeoo says:
Interesting stuff.
Posted on: Dec 15, 2007
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Isaiah and Abdoulaye not letting T…
Isaiah and Abdoulaye not letting …
Good times!
Good times!
photo by: Saskia007