Roslyn Freeman heads into the night to rub shoulders with Dakar’s well-heeled at the Just4U Bar & Venue. Performing tonight are Senegalese music legends, Omar Pene and Super Diamono.
No trip to Senegal would be complete without dipping our toes into the pool of fabulous music talent. Our taxi weaves its way through Dakar’s streets, past the beach to the other side of town, to the Just 4 U Bar. A tall, surly bouncer stands, arms folded, and shakes his head, refusing our pleas to enter. But in Africa everything is negotiable and eventually we three girls find ourselves inside and beneath the tented canopy.
There may be frenzied activity at every market in Senegal, however this doesn’t extend to the nightclub scene. The atmosphere is subdued, morose even.
Omar Pene is playing. Those who have come to hear him have a restrained appreciation. The mood is sophisticated, intellectual.
A young couple arrive. She sits demurely in her Sunday best. She could be in church. Another woman joins them. Her hat is a melee of pink and blue voile.
Omar’s gig finishes. With a slow grace he descends the stage and joins us at our table. There are smiles and handshakes. We all fall slightly in love with Omar. As many have before.
Three beautiful girls, clad in red and tasteful bling, glide to the table beside us. Their earrings are fantastic feats of engineering. We cast admiring glances at them. The Supremes.
The scene on stage gradually begins to shift. First a guitarist, then a percussionist. The audience begins to move and groove. A keyboardist joins them, a kora player and then arrives Darth Vader, clad in a long, shiny caftan. The high Priest of Jazz. Not only does he sing deeply from his heart, he is also responsible for the positive direction that Senegal is taking. A singing Politician? Who’d have thought?
As Super Diamono warms up, more and more people arrive. Dakar’s A listers. The reserved sign is whisked away from the front table and a girl with perfect lips graciously sits down. Her boyfriend has no neck and is wearing an expensive suit.
The audience pulsates to the percussions, the kora player brings his craft to the modern day. Overhead the fan slowly spins, while the French, with their neat haircuts and receding chins, sip Sauterne.
Men in cream suits move to the front and display their dance skills. Across the audience, girls randomly pop up. They rhythmically move to the music.
A man in a raspberry shirt grabs my hand and leads me to the stage. The Dakar TV camera rolls. Cigar smoke infuses the atmosphere.
Later the raspberry shirted man, Andre, returns to the stage in a dance frenzy, there is much thrusting of limbs and the occasional backflip. A pagan dance, dislocated then relocated.
At 3am the night ends. There is much shaking of hands and cheek to cheek kissing as the audience dissipates.
Outside the atmosphere is frenzied as the taxi drivers vie for our custom. How wonderful to have men fighting over us!
It is the end of a perfect night in Dakar.