“Ooh, look at those cute beaded necklaces! Wouldn’t those make fun gifts…”
No, no they wouldn’t. Those ‘necklaces’ are actually belly beads called ‘bine-bines’. But hey, if you want to cruise around Senegal with a couple dangling around your neck, you go right ahead. Lemme know how that works out for you.
It can be so easy to make these innocent mistakes. Trust me. I speak from experience. And that experience intimidated me away from diving into the infamous world of seduction à la Sénégalaise. Even now, ten years later, I certainly don’t claim to be an expert. But I do claim to be a half-decent researcher. It’s a hazard of my day-job, I suppose.
In my research, I learned there are three key items for seduction à la Sénégalaise:
1) bine-bines (the aforementioned belly beads)
2) yéré de soir (night clothes)
3) thiouraye (incense)
Belly beads are pretty easy to figure out: beads you wear around your waist. Some women wear them all the time and others just for, ahem, special occasions.
There are strands with tiny beads, large beads, small beads, chunky beads, etc… A string of beads can be a single color, multicolored or even – gasp – glow in the dark. Thanks to their elastic string, most are one-size-fits-all. However, a word to the wise… after a while that elastic will give out and beads will go in every direction. This will probably happen at the worst possible moment, like walking across a soccer field full of teenage guys. Just sayin’.
You can buy bine-bines for a couple hundred francs at most markets. Don’t buy just one though. You would usually wear at least a couple strands. Plus, you’ll probably decide that they do make great gifts for your friends after all!
The little outfits shown in this post fall under yéré de soir. They are crocheted by hand in a variety of styles, colors and threads. And, believe it or not, they are pretty flexible in terms of size. You just tug and pull to get it to fit your shape. Most are two-piece ensembles, one of which is a thong. But a sarong-style skirt (long or short) or little shorts are also an option.
I spoke with the woman who made all of these outfits. She said the simple styles take a couple days to crochet, but the more complex ones can take a week to ten days. A good ballpark price is about 8,000cfa. If you want to order a specific style, you can give the maker a photo from a magazine to copy.
Lastly, your signature incense. That’s right, ladies, I said ‘signature’. You don’t want to smell like just any other woman.
Those little glass jars you see in the markets, stuffed with what looks like damp wood, are a good place to start. They’re kept sealed in glass jars for a very good reason – they have quite a strong scent! If you really want to give thiouraye a try, I suggest asking for help from a Senegalese friend. When it’s done well, the incense lingers gently on your clothes so that your signature scent floats around you. If it’s not done well, gasp-gasp, cough-cough…
If there are key items for seduction Senegalese-style that are not on this list, it must just be that I look too angelic and sweet to be told about them. (Right??) But if you do know of more, let us know! And many thanks to my friend, who prefers to remain nameless, for her help with this research.
PS – Interested in ordering one of the ensembles above or something similar? I can put you in contact with the woman who makes them!