LUANDA (Reuters) – It’s a hot, humid afternoon in Luanda Bay – an urban waterfront on the Atlantic coast of Angola. Pairs of entwined dancers swing their hips from left to right and move their feet to the sensual rhythm of Kizomba music.
Kizomba, which means “celebration” in Kimbundu, one of the local languages of Angola, is a genre of dance and music that developed in the 1980s in the capital Luanda, quickly becoming part of the Angolan cultural identity.
The dance, which has a certain similarity to Latin Salsa, is known to have a slow, soft and sensual rhythm. With lyrics generally sung in Portuguese, its popularity has spread to other Portuguese-speaking countries and beyond, while dancers enjoy its catchy rhythms and romantic flow.
In Angola, it is often associated with celebrations.
Four decades after its appearance, and as the popularity of dance spread on social networks, competitions, workshops and special kizomba evenings were born in Angola.
“It’s a fun and fun way to connect with people … and I’m in love with that,” said Indian national Savio Mascarenhas, 35, who lives in Luanda.
“The movement, the style, the people, it’s more like a conversation with a person and it’s more than a dance,” said Mascarenhas, dancing on the promenade of Luanda Bay, where people of the world whole listen and dance at Kizomba.
“It’s an art that gives life and unifies people regardless of their race or place of birth,” said Gregorio Pires, 25-year-old professional dancer and studio owner.
Some believe that Kizomba could benefit Angola’s troubled economy by boosting tourism, just as the love of Tango attracts visitors to Argentina.
“It’s really good to see strangers embracing our culture,” said professional dancer Marly Baptista. “There are a lot of foreigners who would like to come to Angola to dance, so we have to take advantage of it.”
Written by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Alexandra Hudson