The art of dance can be an avenue for showing affinity- as much as it is a form of entertainment. When we dance, consciously or subconsciously, we pledge allegiance to our or other people’s culture. Through this beautiful form of art, our innermost emotions are been projected.
In South Africa, dance is a big part of the people’s culture, it has long been. Tracing back to the ancestral styles of the Indlamu cultural dancers who dazzled in acrobatic fashion to the post-apartheid Kwaito craze of the early 90s.
A notable phenomenon when diving into the anthropology of South African dance trends- or dance trends of any kind, is the co-dependence between dance and music. Both simply can’t exist without the other.
In recent years, South African music has morphed globally, with home-grown sounds such as the repetitive Gqom and the melodic Amapiano traveling to various parts of the world, creating volumes of excitement, especially amidst young people – transportation made easy by the internet.
These local music genres or subgenres have powered several dance trends on the internet, some of which are reincarnations only now approached more freshly.
Seeking to connect with the mzansi dance culture, or in the mood for a challenge? Here are ten South African dance trends you should learn in 2023.
KwaZulu-Natal’s very own daughter, Dbn Gogo, spurred an entire movement when she released her song, Dakiwe (which featured Lady Du). Following a live rendition of ‘Dakiwe’, in which Dbn Gogo had displayed the dance move on stage, the Amapiano enriched tune began attracting a lot of audiences, including fellow South African celebrity, Pearl Thusi. The dance movement can be achieved by maintaining a static position, whilst letting your hips move upwards in a circuitous motion. Nodding the head gives it an extra kick. Dakiwe has caught the eye of many TikTok users and is one of the best South African dance trends you will come across.
The Vosho is a popular dance trend in South Africa that involves the emphatic movement of squatting down while kicking a foot almost immediately. The minimal raw beats of Gqom inspired this dance trend. Over time, TikTok Hashtags under vosho have exceeded more than eighteen million impressions, buttressing how popular the dance trend is. Over the years, several adaptations of the dance have surfaced, including ‘The head vosho’, a dance that involves the extension of arms while leaning the head forward. Several celebrities have also caught the vosho bug. South African singer, Sho Madjozi briefly displayed the vosho during her Colors performance in 2020.
The Gwara Gwara is one of the popular South African dance dominating social media in 2023. It is a popular dance move that was brought to light by South African DJ, Dj Bongz. A dance that shares similarities with America’s ‘Stanky Leg’, and has been performed by Foreign Mainstream acts like Childish Gambino(This Is America), and Rihanna(60th edition Grammy performance). The Gwara Gwara involves fluid movement, whereby one swings a leg while moving the upper body in a similar rhythm. Although the dance appears athletic, it’s quite easy to learn, just make sure you are well-hydrated before trying it.
King Monada, a well-known House singer from South Africa, became an overnight sensation after giving birth to the Idibala Malwedhe dance trend. The trend quickly took the country by storm, capturing the hearts of people of all ages and backgrounds. Idibala Malwedhe, which is also referred to as the ‘Fainting dance,’ is a free-spirited and comical dance trend that involves sudden drops to the ground as if fainting. The dance is typically performed to King Monada’s hit song, ‘Malwedhe,’ which features lyrics about falling in love and being willing to faint or collapse for that special someone.
Although the dance is popular, it’s important to note that it should only be attempted with caution, as the sudden drops can be dangerous on a hard or bare surface. Despite the risk, the Idibala Malwedhe dance trend continues to be a beloved and entertaining part of South African culture, showcasing the country’s passion for music and dance.
The Hamba Wena is a very energetic dance trend. Another Amapiano-inspired jive. Following the popularity of the song, ‘Hamba Wena’ by South African disk jockey, Deep London which featured singer, Boohle, various TikTok users began flooding the algorithm with posts citing the song in the background while bursting out series of spontaneous dance moves. Over time, a uniform movement was developed which then became a dance challenge. Thus far, the South African dance trend has a whooping 4.3 billion views on TikTok.
Yayaya Dance Challenge
The ‘Ya ya ya’ dance challenge is one of the most formidable dance trends in South Africa today. Ya ya ya started when the Amapiano song, ‘Kusazo Shuba’ by Justin 99 feat Uncle waffles, Pcee & Eeque started making rounds online. The Yayaya dance is pretty simple, as it doesn’t involve complex choreographic skills.
A lot of hip movement takes place in this next dance trend. The trend popularly known as Zekethe is loved by many youths in the country and has been crossing borders through Tiktok. There is a semblance between the Zekethe and Nigeria’s ‘Etighi’. The popular Amapiano song by Mr. JazzQ, titled, ‘Umsebenzi Wethu’ inspired the viral dance craze and has been done by several personalities, including Cassper Nyovest.
Pouncing Cat Dance
The pouncing cat is another popular South African dance that involves a lot of coordination. Just a generic search on Youtube and you would find a plethora of DIY Tutorial videos shedding light on the dance which involves pouncing the legs side to side while maintaining a cat-like posture with the hands, all while moving the shoulders in a coordinated fashion.
The Umlando is a recent dance trend taking South Africa and the global scene at large, by storm. The popular dance which involves a lot of hip-swinging has been done by many enthusiastic folks on social media apps like Tiktok and Instagram. Popular Nigerian singer, Kizz Daniel has contributed in the popularity of the dance trend, as it was heavily infused in the visuals of his single, ‘Cough(Odo)’.
Thuso Phala is a South African dance named after popular South African football player, Thuso Phala. The zestful dance was coined from the Ex- Bafana Bafana Midfielder’s celebration and has been replicated by many avid dancers. The dance is currently one of the viral dance trends in South Africa today.
South African culture has a rich history of dance, from the acrobatic styles of the Indlamu cultural dancers to the Kwaito craze of the 90s. South Africa dance and music are interdependent, with local music genres like Gqom and Amapiano fueling dance trends around the world. If you want to connect with mzansi dance culture, here are ten South African dance trends to learn in 2023. These include the Dakiwe Challenge, the Vosho, the Gwara Gwara, Idibala Malwedhe, Hamba Wena, Yayaya Dance Challenge, Zekethe, Pouncing Cat Dance, and Umlando. Each dance has its unique style and rhythm, and they all showcase the vibrant spirit of South African dance culture.