Colours and Dances in Gambia

An impression of paradise

Gambia in the bright morning sun

Watching and listening to squeaking birds. The sky is blue and the sea deep green. People are very nice and smiley, simply happy, funny and content. I am sitting on the restaurant’s terrace just finishing breakfast in the Kairaba hotel in Banjul, watching a gardener add more fertilizer to the grass as if to make the already happy garden, greener and full of brighter colours.

In the midst of all these bright colours, you sometimes you forget yourself and suddenly feel the impression of paradise. Being, Living and Breathing seems suddenly almost unbelievable, as being resuscitated from a long and deadly sleep where everything looked grey and felt numb.

Remembering the past, yet appreciating the present

After dinner, I met with Henry who took me downtown to show me the night entertainment in Banjul. We first went to a dancing bar called The Jocko, for a drink to warm-up for the night. Then, Henry made sure we were inside Tam Tam 2000, The Club in Gambia, where Western Music meets with African Music, starting Midnight.

Suddenly, Western Music stops playing: a signal for all the dancers to move away and prepare for the entrance of a team of 10 traditional drummers with their leader drummer and singer. A dancing contest is about to begin!

The dancing floor is allowed only to women and one only at a time. Each woman hits the dance floor and leaves her foot and body prints on it, forming beautiful dynamic paintings.

It is extremely impressive; every single movement is related to sexual and sensual movements-very powerful. The most striking thing is to watch how very at ease these women are with their bodies, comfortable and secure with their sexuality.

Beautiful and feline no matter their shapes, every one of the female dancers was totally free and had no boundaries to their electric or lingering movements. The bodies were frenetic, fast and rhythmic, often oozing with sensuality. It got even diabolic at a certain moment.

The lead drummer was playing with the various rhythms as if he was caressing and fore playing with every single dancer, giving her love through every single beat he played, making her tremble and become slave to every single pounding he made with his magical hands.

Reaching close to the climax, the woman got out of hand, they seemed as if she wanted to jump on the lead drummer and start making love to him! At that precise moment, the leader would break the frenetic rhythm so the woman drops on the floor half naked with the only piece of cloth that was covering her falling beside her.

Still in trance, following the beats, she slowly picks herself up, erases her sweaty signature and leaves the dance floor to another woman…

Strangely, during all this time, nobody moved nor clapped. It all seemed normal and natural almost as a routine deal. Neither worries nor shame. All was Natural and All right.

The concept of nudity changes from one culture to another. Even the use of the body is totally different as dance is a body language and another important way of expression by itself that every single woman masters and speaks with her own intonation, rhythms and style…

The next morning, before leaving back to London, I went to the market to buy a beautiful statue with Henry’s help, to take it back as a souvenir of this wonderful but short stay in Gambia.

(c) 2003 Besma Bourjini

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