Updated: Jun 26
Let me take you back to my university days when I frequented Afrobeats clubs, house parties and student events. I used to envy how others could express themselves on the dance floor through Afro-dance when popular club anthems would play in the background. How people would subconsciously create circles around these people. Some would cheer them on, and others would try to jump in the circle and show what they can do as well.
I was in awe of a particular dancer on a night out. I like many others fed off his energy, borrowed the motivation to want to dance and that made us enjoy the rest of our night.
He loved the attention he got and how he made others around him have a good time. I was so inspired that I decided to learn how to dance by stringing a few popular moves I learnt by watching him and other dancers on YouTube. It took a few weeks, but I finally learnt a basic Afro-dance routine. A few parties later, I got the opportunity to show off what I had learnt to my friends. I waited until the DJ put on a song I liked and got on the dance floor. The song in question was a classic by Wizkid and LAX called Ginger - If you know this tune, you’ll know that it makes you want to move. I started moving and before I knew it, I showed off a few dance moves I had been practicing. My friends were so surprised that they cheered me on and suddenly a mini circle formed around me.
At that point I had a flashback to the dancer I saw in club in the past. I suddenly realised what he must have felt with all that attention - Exhilaration, confidence & Joy. The look of people fascinated by your dance moves, people cheering you on and people you don’t know all of a sudden wanting to dance with you. Once you’re in that zone you really don’t want to stop, or until in my case you run out of moves to show off!
Now, I am not saying that I became an expert dancer after just a few weeks of practicing. It was a gradual process, but I learnt enough to impress my friends and have a good time. I also realised that dancing is a skill that everyone wants to learn but is either too shy or not sure how to start learning.
So why did I share this story from the archives of my memory? To give you an idea of how easy it is to start learning how to Afro-dance. The feeling of putting yourself (& pride) on the line to dance in front of others and possibly inspire others to want to know how to dance. On the back of that here are a few more reasons why you should learn how to Afro-dance.
1· It’s a great way to exercise
We all know dancing is a form of exercise, the same can definitely be said about Afro-dance that constitutes high intensity movements. Also, if you think about it, dance floors tend to be sweaty places for a reason. All of those Shaku and Zanku moves burn energy like you would not believe. When you dance, you can expend more than 300 calories every half-hour, according to a report from the University of Brighton in the UK. That meets or exceeds the amount of energy you burn during an easy run or swim, the report shows. Even relatively low intensity forms of afro-dance burns about the same number of calories as cycling. Afro-dancing demands a lot of energy output because it involves movement in all directions. While running, swimming and other propulsive forms of physical activity, Dance uses rhythm and momentum to keep you moving,
“There is a lot of accelerating and decelerating in dancing, which the body is less able to do in an energy efficient way,”
says Nick Smeeton, a principal lecturer at the University of Brighton.
All of that starting, stopping and changing directions burns a ton of fuel even though you’re not covering a lot of ground.
With that being said, the amount of energy you expend has a lot to do with how hard you’re pushing yourself. A gentle two-step isn’t going to measure up to a full dance routine.
2· A great way to attract the opposite sex
If you've ever watched any music video or spent any amount of time at a party, you’ll know there's no denying the strong links between dancing and sex. Both acts tap into our primal urges, and one can lead to the other. A new study published in Scientific Reports asked subjects to analyse and rate movements that were mapped from the dance moves of real women. Both male and female ratters judged dancing with greater hip swinging as more attractive, as well as moves that incorporated thigh movements and arm movements. You can also tell a lot about a potential lover from the way they dance. According to survey of 2,000 women by The Daily Mail, 80 percent said they experienced a direct correlation between a guy's performance in the club and in the bedroom. Now that is a definite motivation to get out there and learn how to move.
3· Confidence boost
Most people dance in room alone but imagine how great you would feel dancing in front of others? Once you start attending dance classes, there will be a lot of new steps to learn. Now, it won’t be easy in the beginning, especially if you’ve never danced before or you’re just starting out. However, as time goes on, you’ll notice how your dancing skills improve as you learn more and new steps. After a while, you’ll know a bunch of moves and as we all know, learning and remembering a whole choreography is no easy task especially with Afro-dancing. Once you finally learn the moves, you’ll feel much more capable and this new sense of achievement will boost your confidence. Additionally, dancing in front of others is something not everyone is comfortable with even in front of your partner or friends. The fear of looking silly or being judged is common in any social situation. However, as you boost your dance skills, your confidence will grow which will help push you out of your comfort zone and to even bigger better things.
4· Friends tend to invite you to events a lot more
Positive vibes are infectious and a valuable commodity during parties, weddings and general events. When you’re looking for who to invite to a party would you invite someone shy, timid or unable to dance in front of others? Or would you invite someone that is comfortable in his or her skin, loves to dance and can bring your group to life? Dancing is a way of showing that you know how to have fun, confident and not shy to express yourself.
5· You inspire others to learn
When others see you dancing and expressing yourself, you motivate others to do so. When I saw a really skillful dancer bust a move on the dance floor all those years ago it really pushed me to pursue dance as a hobby even if it’s just for social gatherings. However, that may have had a different effect on someone else. If you saw that passionate dancer all those years ago, you may want to pursue dance as a career or create a chain effect by telling others what you saw. The possibilities are endless and with Afro-dance being a style that is predominantly linked to African culture, sharing and propagating this style with people from different cultures would not only lead to new dance variants but shows an appreciation of the culture.
6· An appreciation of centuries of African culture
Afro-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. Its popularity and intense body movements is testament to how influential it is to remain relevant till this day and become adopted by other cultures around the world. When you learn it, it shows a clear appreciation for African culture.