Any Yoruba peep born within the last three decades would have witnessed successions of dance steps, both local and foreign. He or she would have been told how popsy and maale used to twerk in their ‘glory’ days to the rich Apala tunes when they would ‘mu owo kan soke, mu owo kan si bebere ibadi, ki e mi a jo lo…‘ i.e (raise one hand, put the other on your waist just by the buttocks, then start dancing). Such was their style. There was also Takasufe and so on. Break-dance and disco were foreign moves that also dominated the youth and nightclub space. Moon-walk was popularised, and arguably invented by Micho Jacko; a global music idol whose magical and cutting body movements make girls, who attend his mega-concerts get emotional and go gaga. A purely physiological response, isn’t it? King Sunny Ade and Sir Shina Peters (whoever made him a knight) were local popstars with unbeatable dance steps, though not named or popular.
But I remember vividly, although still young then, when that Congolese took Africa by storm with Makossa, alongside Kofi Olomide, that dance step was both a craze and a rave. Everyone, young and old, unrestrained, moved their bombom and hands rhythmically to Makossa on the streets and parties (including wedding events, where the groom doesn’t hold back at the faintest sound of Awilo lo gomba). Awilo didn’t come alone at the time, a certain beninnoire also hit the waves with onipele gawu lepa gawu o. Makossa wasn’t only danced by common men but even in corporate circles as my fading NTA memories will allow.
Not sure now if Galala preceeded Makossa, but I became aware of this dance around the same time. This dance was strictly from the ghetto. Made for the ghetto, it was popularised by a respected ghetto artist himself; Daddy Showkey (I love his songs especially Dyna). Interesting dance it was with the task involved; the legs are moved backwards and the hands forward. But that’s not all, there is the part where the scapulae at the back are thrusted up and down successively. Amusing rhythm. Of course Suo dance came along with a body and hand picture similar to generator-pulling while dancing it. This was another ghetto dance introduced by a group of “Danfo drivers”. However, I loved galala more.
Then came our very own Ibadan-bred Olu with a very simple dance that wouldn’t tire out your waist like Makossa. You only need your two hands to dance Yahooze. Just two. Finish. No twerking. The dance was funny but not in the same way the hit-track was. Those were the days internet scam was a budding “business” among many unemployed but heartless Naija youths. And who cares really, maga must pay! Boyz must hammer! A song specially dedicated to these tireless internet hustlers (fraudsters really) won’t be too much. And it won’t be too much either if one of our female senators at that time (yes, that one that did showbiz more than legislation. Exactly! that Cameroonian from Bakassi) stuck out her hands to the sweet melody of Yahooze on an occasion I saw again on NTA.
Alanta would be the next rave, this one not traced to a particular artist really (as they were plenty). But it served its time well. No waist too, just your tightly flexed hands and legs. Lobatan. More technical than Makossa but more energetic than Yahooze, Alanta was quite popular. Many local break-dancers have adopted it, polished it and roboticized it somehow. It lasted a long time until it was dethroned by a hitherto unknown Calabar dance made famous by MTN lucky-dude, Nyanya. Etighi would be the new king in the dance hot-list. This dance is particularly robust with various species and serotypes- all engineered to suit any beat, at least most beats around. One dance fits all. Talk about the systematic backward steps, the swaggerlicious look on the dancer and its clean and amusing feel. It’s got it. I remember a video featuring three jobless ‘idiots’ dancing etighi, I laughed so much as these boyz contracted their gluteal and hamstring muscles in tandem. But sadly, the reign of this admirable dance was short.
A foreigner deposed etighi all too soon. From Ghana with love, Azonto! Oh that dance. A complicated dance no doubt, it involves the use of your mobile body parts. Azonto starts with a particular hands-and-feet movement then graduates into other bodyworks that look similar to infantile seizure. I tried to learn the rubricks but mehhn, just couldn’t. For me, it is the most difficult of all. Azonto came with a footwear branded for it. That too sold big-time to babes and guys alike. However, just as it was for its predecessors, there was time for everything. Sekem came into the scene. I really don’t have much to say about this rookie but it surely gathered admirers. But then Skelewu (what a name!), would be in town soon. Probably lewd in a way, I didn’t really fancy it much, possibly also because I don’t really watch music videos as such. But twenty-two-year-old Davido (I heard his dad is a billionnaire, and he himself is now making millions at a very youthful age. I don’t envy him but that’s instructive for me) did a good job of marketing Skelewu to all and sundry before it was shocked and sent packing by the beast and current heavyweight champion. Shoki!
Ah shoki. This dance get as e be. It involves twisting the hands like a snake, drawing a stiffened yet flexible body in a cog-weel fashion, tightening the major musculatures why moving from left to right and back. Sighs. Complex abeg. One can’t just describe it unless it is seen. There is a special, fast and trending beat for Shoki just like Makossa. Annoyingly though (at least for me), I don’t know how to do it till tomorrow, and I’m particularly not happy with it because it has driven all its predecessors (including my favorite) into oblivion with its great popularity lasting almost a year now. I wish another dance surfaces fast. But it doesn’t look as though.
Plenty dance steps abound, individually inspired steps (I have quite a number, very stylish ones) that will not be known until someone popularises them with hit tunes. A certain religious sect is also renown for their twerking during service and while receiving messages from God. Surely they are gifted in this dance but the long hours involved may just put off many interests. Just saying.
But there is no doubt that my sentiment lies with that Calabar dance. I love that dance like kilode. It’s tiwantiwa, it’s easy, it’s clean. Its just Etighi. You may thumb me down when it comes to opera, ball, salsa or breakdance, but if you see me doing etighi, alanta or my idiosyncratic moves enthusiastically to the rich stimulating beats of legendary KSA or contemporary Ayefele or any other sensible, non-sensual tunes, don’t be surprised. Just leave me alone. I will keep on till the introduction of another dance style into the naija music scene. Possibly I might like it. But until then, everyone (except me) can keep dancing Ah Shoki!
With my own hands @bamsky007