Ballet la linguère
Many occasions are pretexts for a dance party: after a wrestling victory, after the harvest, at a baptism, etc. Dance and wrestling parties offer a magnificent opportunity for singles, lovers and friends to meet in their best presentation. Usually, every suburb, village or age group has some kind of organizing committee.

The most important things are the date, the band, and the invited patrons. The date, because some days are not allowed, for instance there are no dances during the farming season. The band is a group of at least 3 professional drummers, ordinarily between 5 and 7. Sometimes, another instrument, African or European joins them. The venue is a sandy area in the middle of the village or at some crossroads in the town. The youngest sit on the sand in the inner circle. Behind them, the women sit on chairs and benches, or stand up. Finally, on the outer circle, men stand up. Boys and females do the clapping, sometimes using wood or metal clappers. The band plays at a corner of the inner circle, facing the most distinguished patrons dressed in their best clothes, and who will give money to them and to the best dancers.

The dancers relay each other almost continuously, in a jubilant disorder. Normally, only women, girls and young boys dance, but men usually dance in the Wolof country. Elsewhere, in the South and the East, religious and age related ceremonies, such as initiations, will offer the opportunity for men and boys in their teens.

Contributed by:
Mohamed Mbodj
Associate Professor
History Department
Columbia University
New York NY 10027
Tel.: 212-854-2423
Fax: 212-854-4639

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