In our limited experience, restaurants that promise an authentic cultural experience tend to be tourist traps.
That’s not necessarily a complaint. They reel you in with the promise of an authentic experience and then bombard you with local traditional dance and music performances. The food can be sub-par compared to smaller local eateries and the performances might be somewhat amateurish – but despite all of that, it’s possible to have a good time.
That’s what we found years ago when we were in Cambodia. The cultural evening we spent in Siem Reap was too pricey for the quality of the evening, but it was still worth taking in.
Still, that one experience has had an impact on our travels. We have tended to avoid this kind of restaurant simply because we’d prefer to spend our money on better food and better performances at separate times, rather than rely on one-stop shopping.
But because we had planned such a short stay in Victoria Falls, we were limited in what we could achieve. So when the hotel recommended BOMA: Place of Eating as place to take in food, drumming and dancing all at once, we decided to take their advice.
We weren’t disappointed.
The food was quite good – especially for a buffet – and the entertainment was top notch. Here’s a short video:
It was also immersive!
We each received our own djembe drum and the EmCee led the entire restaurant in a round of drumming, after a quick and fun tutorial. But the audience participation portion of the night didn’t end there!
After the drumming, they pulled up a bunch of volunteers onto the dance floor. We didn’t know what to expect, but we definitely wanted to take part – even if we were likely to be made to look the fool.
Jenn and I jumped up when they called for volunteers. Junkii stayed back with the camera. Little did we know it would be a dance circle and each volunteer would be made to strut their stuff in the centre of the circle.
Jenn nailed her solo, as you can see in the short video below. Her rodeo moves stole the show. I looked somewhat less comfortable, and somewhat goofier – But I held my own against the other men at least.
Wish I had had a little more experience with BodyJam before this happened. I could have knocked it out of the park.
I still think the third video from the evening is best. And it speaks for itself, so I’ll just let you watch it on your own.
I’ll just conclude by saying that, while the restaurant might have been a tourist trap, this evening opened up a whole batch of new experiences for each of us. And that is absolutely what travel is all about! Now here’s the video, followed by a few last photos from our evening of Zimbabwean food and music.