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Senegal Shopping and nightlife

Shopping in Senegal

Visitors to Senegal should go to some of the many colourful markets. They are abundant with a range of bargains from food to handmade crafts and electronics. Most markets and centres sell wooden carvings, traditional fabric, embroidery, pottery, necklaces of clay beads and costume jewellery of wood or various seeds. There is a craft village at Soumbedioune, on the Corniche de Fann, where the visitor can watch craftspeople at work and buy their handicrafts. Purchases include woodcarving in the form of African gaming boards, masks and statues; musical instruments; and metalwork, including copper pendants, bowls and statuettes.

However, if you want to get away from the tourist hustle and bustle and immerse yourself in the real market vibe, cross over to the fish market just next door, either early in the morning or in the late evening, to have a chance of seeing what really happens in Soumbedioune.

Another interesting market is that of Marché des HLM. Located in what would be considered as the council houses district, this market is the best place in the whole of Dakar to find some of the most colourful and exquisite West African style fabrics you could hope for. Just pick a few fabrics you like, bargain the price down to what you can afford, and then take it to a local tailor to make the shirt or dress you have always imagined yourself wearing. There are also a few places here where you can sit down and drink ataya, the local black-leaf tea, and watch the world go by.

If you are looking for souvenirs and gifts, Marché Kermel is probably your best bet. Located behind Avenue Sarraut, this covered market originally built in 1860 sells a mix of foodstuffs such as herbs, spices and local ingredients as well as some original and unique souvenirs that would make great gifts for friends and family back home. Don't forget to pay attention to the beautiful architecture of the building in which the stalls are located!

Shopping Note

Like anywhere in the world, it is advisable to be streetwise when walking through the markets of Dakar. Make sure that your bags are always visible and that you pay careful attention to your pockets to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

In Senegal, bargaining is part and parcel of the culture. It is a fun way to interact with the traders and can get you a good bargain, if you are patient and insistent enough. The general rule for bargaining is to wait until the trader suggests a price, halve it and suggest that price, and then gradually increase the price, back and forth with the vendor until you reach a price that is agreeable for both parties.

Shopping hours

Generally Mon-Sat 0830-1230 and 1530-1930. Some shops open Sunday morning, others are closed Monday.

Nightlife in Senegal

Dakar is one of the best cities to witness the most colourful and energetic live music available in the region. There are several nightclubs and music venues playing mbalax (the local modern music). Youssou N'dour, the world renowned king of mbalax and international celebrity, even has a nightclub in Dakar called Le Thiossane known for having the most packed dancefloor in town. Whenever he is not touring N'dour performs for a short time in his club on almost every Friday and Saturday night.

Just 4 U is another popular nightspot in Dakar. It is located on Avenue de l'Est in the university district, and has a spacious bar restaurant with live music. The place has become a key fixture on the West African music circuit. The setting – an outdoor patio area with chairs and tables arranged under canvas awnings – adds a cosy, laid-back vibe.

But Dakar is not the only place where you can find good music. The Senegalese have music in their blood, and wherever and whenever you will find music, dance, laughter and good times.

Along the beaches, most Saturdays, groups of youngsters carry their sound systems and play a selection of the best reggae sounds, which you can enjoy with a glass of rum, under the stars, with the sound of waves and African beats in the background.

In most villages around the country, at least one person has a djembe, a traditional drum, or a balafon, a bit like a wooden xylophone, to jam with. With a bit of encouragement, a party will be started in no time. The Senegalese do not need any excuses to let loose and enjoy the best life has to offer.

There are many cinemas showing the latest French films. The Daniel Sorano National Theatre in the Boulevard de la Republique is a popular venue for theatre, concerts and other arts performances. Dakar is host to traditional Senegalese wrestling matches on weekends.

The Institut Français (www.institutfrancais-senegal.com), on Rue Carnot in Dakar, is a hotspot for events, films, art displays, theatre productions and good food. Although, it's a little bit on the expat side of the fence, it is still a place that should be visited if you are into modern art and independent films.