EastAfricanTube is one of my favourite YouTube clones, being totally superior in finding genge and Bongo flava videos. But it also has a great depository of dance videos that besides a "traditional dances" category is broadly divided into two sections: mapouka dance and Bongo dance.
Mapouka is the archetype of a risqué dance style (yes, even more so than perreo) and some of the videos featured on the site are definately not safe for work, bordering on the pornographic. Or, in some cases, blasting right through the border. Looking around the net (do, or rather don't do, a google image search), "mapouka" is well on its way towards becoming a code-word for pornography in general.
This kind of forbidden dance (literally forbidden in the Ivory Coast!) as a vehicle for youth rebellion is common throughout the history of music. The incredibly obscene waltz, the tango, ragtime, Elvis shaking his hips, Line dancing if you're Ian Paisley - all once subject of parental and social dissaproval and thus irresistable to perform. There's plenty of interesting things to look out when it comes to this socially rebellious kind of dancing, but right now I'm more fascinated by its opposite.
Where mapouka is dangerous, Bongo dance is extremely safe by african standards. "Bongo" is a nickname for Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and one would expect a connection to bongo flava based on the name. Indeed, some of the videos that have made it into this category have fleeting connections to that style, but most are extremely sedate swahili dance music/musiki wa dansi of the old style.
In sharp contrast to the modern Coupe Decale used in mapouka videos the music is slow, light, controlled, high-end-oriented and conservative. The dancers, of mixed gender, are shown from the front and only swing their hips gently. Everyone dances alone or barely touching each other, salsa-style. Often, group choreography is involved. The performers are conventionally good-looking and the feel is generally rather boy-band.
It's fascinating to see social dance as a vehicle for conservatism and good family values as well as for change, especially seeing as the Bongo dance videos outnumber the mapouka ones by 2:1. The edgeless commercial alternative seemingly wins out even in a country like Tanzania with its quickly progressing music industry...
2017 with feeling
1 week ago