Updated: Jan 12
Afrobeats dance is a diverse and fascinating style originating predominantly form Sub-Saharan Africa. It is an evolution from traditional African dance styles following the creation of Afrobeats music. This doesn’t mean that previous styles have been discarded but have been built on over the years by Afrobeats dance enthusiasts and musicians. Dancers like incredible zigi and Dance god lloyd are just a few of the new wave of dancers pushing Afrobeats dance to the rest of the world by creating new dance trends and routines till this day.
With that being said, Afrobeats music plays a major role in the creation and proliferation of Afrobeats dance. In fact, the dance was developed as a response to the genre’s incredibly energetic and upbeat rhythm. Artists like Davido, Mr Eazi & Diamond platinumz have not only created the sound that goes along with this exciting dance style, but have created memorable dance trends as well.
If you have seen an Afrobeats dance routine you’ll know that it’s fast paced, fun and easy on the eyes! It basically gives anyone I know watching it an Eyegasim! (if that’s even a word). This dance style has been around for many years however with the rise in the number of African diaspora, popularity of Afrobeats music and a mixture of cultures, Afrobeats dance has risen in popularity around the world. Here are a few things about Afrobeats dance that will definitely surprise you.
1. There is no specific name for Afrobeats dance
I’m sure after reading the headline you’re thinking that’s impossible! You’ve been naming it! But think again my friends! A quick google search will reveal that there are different ways this dance is being referred to. These are Afro-dance, Afrobeats dance and African dance. If this is a bit confusing and annoying, you are not alone. Personally, I think it should be merged into one name so we can all do a quick search and enjoy our content. Ok, so I bet your next question is... now we know the different names, which one should we pick? To be honest each of these names are pretty strong contenders and I’ll tell you why.
Afro-dance is a short form of “Afrobeats dance” or dancing for people from an Afro heritage (cough, cough... black people). This name is short, catchy and easy to remember. At the time of writing the hashtag posts for Afro-dance on Instagram is 378K and 780 monthly searches on Google. It is easy to see why this name for describing it is significant.
Afrobeats dance is the original term coined form the music genre ‘Afrobeats’ to describe the type of upbeat quick paced dance that goes along with the type of music. This term is also widely used however, it falls behind when it comes to the volume of hashtags posts on Instagram with 20.9K total posts and 590 monthly searches on Google.
African dance is what I’d like to call the ‘OG’ term for describing dance that originated from sub-Saharan Africa. When I see or hear the term it takes me back to the roots of how Afrobeats dance as we know it today was created. It calls for a more formal tone, the core of tradition with tribal clothing and a skilful display of culture. The difference between this term and the others is the same as the widely debated difference between the music genre title of ‘Afrobeat’ and ‘Afrobeats’. One refers to a more contemporary form of African music and the other refers to the origin. This name currently has 360k hashtag posts on Instagram and over 8000 monthly searches on Google!
So my verdict? To be honest, that’s for you to decide. Although I do admit that I have an inclination toward Afrobeats dance. It’s clear that the term ‘African dance’ is more popular than the others. Let me know what you think and post your comments below.
2. It helps to fight depression
Now, depression is something we don’t like to talk about and, why should you? It’s a gloomy topic and most people would rather shy away from it or just ignore it all together. But just because we sweep it under the rug doesn’t mean it’s going to go away. It is one of the most predominant mental health problem worldwide. If we focus our lens on the UK, 19.7% of people aged 16 and over showed symptoms of anxiety or depression according to the office for national statistics. Yes, I did say it was gloomy, but luckily this is where Afrobeats dance comes in.
It has been scientifically proven that dance helps with depression. It is a form of exercise after all. Afrobeats dance can be classed as an aerobic exercise. This type of exercise elevates levels of both dopamine (the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward) and euphoria-inducing endorphins. Additionally, dancing in classes and groups also gives people an opportunity to interact socially and emotionally with others and is a good way to get away from negative thoughts.
Also, learning the intricacies of Afrobeats dancing is no easy task. It takes a bit of time to learn how to articulate your body to the music and all the subtle nuances especially if you are a newbie. However, after taking on such a challenge, how could you not get a sense of accomplishment and an automatic confidence boost? Attending dance classes or how-to videos would be a good place to start as there will be a step by step walk through.
Aside from dance, the music itself gives off so much positive vibes that it becomes infectious. The beats and confidence conveyed the artists gives you a sense of ‘pick yourself up’ and ‘everything will be alright’. Songs like “No Lele” form Nigerian artist - Wizkid’s iconic album, Starboy has uplifting and motivational lyrics beaming with positivity. One of the best lines on there -
“ When dem tell mi say, I no go fit My sista say, I tell dem say No lele, I keep going to the top And I promise to never stop, Say my eye is on the gold And im neva letting go”
(The lyrics are in broken English but Oh God the feels!) He is saying, don’t let anyone tell you can’t do something, he has his eyes on the prize and he will not stop until he gets there.
If would like to take a look at the lyrics genius has a great breakdown.
This line becomes even more potent if you know the artist’s story. He grew up in the ghetto of Surulere Lagos, he found his passion in music and on his first album he made a proclamation to himself that he will reach to the top of his industry and you know the best part? He did it! Wizkid is one of the best artists in Nigeria and dare I say the world! It is this kind of positivity and strength of character that echo’s from Afrobeats music. The creation of strong positive music form countries that have more than their fair share of problems.
I would admit that I suffered from depression myself but Afrobeats and exercise helped pull me out of that ditch. I believe anyone else can do the same.
3. It significantly improves your fitness
If you’ve ever been to an Afro-beats dance class you’ll know that you will sweat! A full routine requires rapid movement of your lower body along with matching arm and shoulder movements. Depending on the type of dance you’re performing, you could get your daily dose of cardiovascular requirements more than handled.
For example, dances like Zanku requires you to jump in the air with both feet and then deliver a strong kick with one of your legs. Oh, but it doesn’t end there, when you land and you want to add a little sauce to it, keep one leg on the ground and hold the other in the air, while delivering a little ‘leg work’ with it and then repeat. The ‘leg work’ term is derived from football dribbling.
On the other hand, Nigerian musician, Bruna boy’s style of Zanku is really fascinating! He does his like a martial artist! He jumps in the air, delivers a sweeping kick with either one of his legs, then delivers another sweeping kick before finishing with a jump and a final strong kick. (Try not to do this when you’re dancing in front of other people... it will not go down well).
Now Imagine combing this with other moves like Pililo, Gwara-Gwara and kpakujeum. Lawd gad!! When you really get into the grove of it, there are several other moves you could combine to give you the perfect workout.
The freestyle nature of Afro dance keeps you moving and gives you more reasons to sweat!
4. It can help you find friends & socialise
Dancing in groups or with other people, gives you the opportunity to mix and socialise with people that have similar interests.
It’s the perfect breeding ground for building relationships with people that are passionate about Afro-dance and could also lead to you learning other skills or discovering new ideas. How awesome is that? In this day and age where most people are just sat at home or stuck on mobile devices all day, it’s good to get out and meet people that enjoy the same things you do. That is why Afrobeat dance classes, festivals, clubs, barbecues, parties and events are the places to be if you would like to socialise and find some comradery.
If you can avoid the temptation of wondering off on Eventbrite, Shoobs, Facebook and Instagram these are great websites to find out what Afro-dance events are happening near you.