famo, noun

Forms:
Also with initial capital.
Origin:
Southern SothoShow more Southern Sotho term for an indecent dance, from famola to dilate the nostrils, or (secondarily), to expose the (female) genitalia.
Among Sothos (especially mine-workers) in townships on the Reef:
1. An erotic dance in which the body is exposed. Also attributive.
Note:
At first associated with the Russian gang, see Russian sense 1.
1952 Drum May 37A type of dance called ‘Famo,’ in which the women dance gracefully, showing parts of their body.
1963 L.F. Freed Crime in S. Afr. 115The mine workers, who are part of the gang, are easily tantalised by a type of dance called ‘Famo’, in which the woman dances with a seductive voluptuousness, revealing the more intimate parts of her body.
a1968 D.C. Themba in E. Patel World of Can Themba (1985) 133That is Famo, the famous sex dance of the Russians, Basotho gangsters on the Reef.
1980 D.B. Coplan Urbanization of African Performing Arts. 214According to Mpahlele and numerous other eyewitnesses, the famo (from ho-re-famo, to open nostrils; to raise garments, displaying the genitals)..was a kind of striptease. Women made suggestive shaking and thrusting movements with their shoulders, hips and bosoms while lifting their flared skirts...The dancers wore no underwear but instead ‘had painted rings round the whole area of their sex, a ring they called “stoplight”’.
1987 M. Melamu Children of Twilight 276A kind of lewd sex dance..was prevalent in areas of the Rand where there was a heavy concentration of Basotho. It was known as ‘famo’.
[1991 E. Lesoro Informant, GrahamstownFamo is an indecent game played very seriously by miners and their women...The men and women line up, naked, and admire each other’s private parts.]
2. A wild drinking- and dancing-party culminating in a sexual orgy. Also attributive.
1977 P.C. Venter Soweto 94A Famo usually ends in a chaos of coupling, with bodies making love everywhere; it is probably the most sensual and abandoned of all Soweto parties.
1980 D.B. Coplan Urbanization of African Performing Arts. 432Famo, An urban dance and dance occasion in which Basotho women perform primarily for the entertainment of men, to the accompaniment of neo-traditional focho music or syncretic marabi music.
1987 New Nation 16 July 10An organist from the Eastern Cape..played for ‘famo’ — a Sotho version of the stokvel.
1987 M. Melamu Children of Twilight 280On Friday evening, while some of the men were busy putting the final touches to the ‘famo’ tent, Hlalele and a group of other ‘Russians’..made their way..across the railway line to Randfontein.
3. See quotations.
1980 D.B. Coplan Urbanization of African Performing Arts. 215Apart from the dance, the term famo refers to a category of lengthy recitative songs performed by the women...The women often addressed their famo songs to the men.
1980 D.B. Coplan Urbanization of African Performing Arts. 432Famo,..A form of Basotho proletarian women’s song performed at famo dances and recounting the singer’s life experience.
An erotic dance in which the body is exposed. Also attributive.
A wild drinking- and dancing-party culminating in a sexual orgy. Also attributive.
See quotations.
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19521991