Friday, February 24, 2012

cross-dressing in Dakar...such a surprise!

This Tuesday was Mardi Gras and Joe and I went to a party/community event organized by the church and our cousin Edward to celebrate the last day of festivities before lent.  It was a costume party and the entry fee was slightly cheaper if you dressed up.  Since Joe had decided not to dress up, I decided to do the same.  My host mom had mentioned an event where Joe and his buddies had cross-dressed when they were younger but I didn't make the connection between that event being part of Mardi Gras celebrations. Upon arriving at the event, however, I was quite blown away.  My cousin Edward was in a rare form Tuesday night, dressed in leggings, a miniskirt, and a stylish white coat complete with full makeup and a wig.  His friend Jacques, who normally is quite shy when he is over at our house, was wearing one of the tightest and shortest dresses I have seen in quite some time.  There was another man who came dressed in a full wedding gown, complete with a veil and incredibly high heels.  Not all of the costumes were of the cross-dressing variety, but they were certainly the majority.

I must say that Mardi Gras was one of my stranger experiences here in Dakar simply because of how unacceptable things like homosexuality and non-traditional gender expression/identity are here in Senegal.  That is not to say that cross-dressing necessarily has to be associated with such things, but it was just quite surprising to see an event like this in Dakar.  There was even a panel of judges at the end of the party (one of whom was the mayor of the cartier) to decide on the best outfit for the evening!

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