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Lively parties bring West Africa to Beirut club scene

In Lebanon, where West African culture is mostly associated with disenfranchised groups, a group of students has decided to shake things up.
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It’s a Friday night in a northern suburb of Beirut. West African music blares from the Playroom night club, tucked behind a highway. The first to arrive is a group of young Lebanese men wearing brightly colored African trousers. Fawzi, 19, flashes his Burkinabe passport to prove his age. He also holds Lebanese citizenship, but he’s proud of his ties to Burkina Faso, the landlocked country in West Africa where he grew up and where his family still lives. It’s his second time at Jungle Safari, a party thrown roughly once a month by a group of Lebanese students with close ties to West Africa. His friend Mario has never been to Africa but has learned to appreciate its music through Fawzi. “We like it here. There aren’t many places like this,” Mario told Al-Monitor.

At Jungle Safari, the mood of the music is set by Hassan Jammal, or DJ Ace. He grew up in Abidjan in Ivory Coast. “I see a lot of Lebanese coming that have never been to Africa. They love it, they’re slowly getting into it,” he said. The parties attract around 500 people who pay a $40 entrance fee that gives them access to the open bar.

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