Saturday, November 5, 2011
Shake it, shake it
Tence Mena Concert
As one of the last major events that I will attend in Madagascar, I went to a concert for the artist known as Tence Mena. She has been referred to by many a PCV as the Malagasy version of Rhianna. She even emulates her hair styles. My friend Ryan and I went to the concert which was to start at 2:30pm. Knowing that everything starts late, we arrived at 3:30pm and then waited in the longest line I’ve ever seen in Madagascar. It went a couple blocks down the street. We eventually made it into the concert, after several Malagasy cut in line in front of us. The concert was interesting, Tence Mena and the dancers all changed costumes after each song. This meant that they had a backup singer working the crowd every few minutes so she could change. Too fill some of the time, they had a booty shaking competition in which a child won a lot of money. All of this while my friend and I keep glancing down at the dirty diaper on the ground in our vicinity, trying to maintain eye contact so that it didn’t manage to migrate underfoot.
As the sun set on the concert and the heat of the day faded, the emotions of the crowd gradually changed. A mosh pit formed and the dancing intensified. Eventually everyone was being shoved around and the men started picking up and throwing sand. We headed for the gates. All of the wary Malagasy, especially those with children were trying to leave with us. Unfortunately, since many people refused to pay the $1.50 to enter the concert, they were instead trying to rush the police and force their way in. Since the venue was chosen for its limited number of entryways (Catholic school), our only options were to shove our way out and risk being caught in a fight between police and a crowd, or stay in a crowd that was already disintegrating into madness. I squeezed out while trying to protect a mother and infant also working her way toward safety. My friend had his sunglasses broken in his attempt to escape.
After all the stress of trying to leave the concert, dinner was in order. We went into a nice little restaurant, Salon de le Maharajah. Upon ordering, a fight broke out on the street in front of the restaurant. Our server rushed out and closed the security doors to the restaurant and with near perfect timing, the power went out. We sat in darkness listening to the brawl on the street. The power eventually clicked back on and the street quieted. We had a lovely meal and I made sure that the server got a nice tip for looking out for our safety.
On the walk back, a motorcyclist went down right before our eyes for no apparent reason. Since there were hundreds of people walking back he was embarrassed but apparently unharmed. All in all it was the craziest concert experience I’ve ever had.