What is Kizomba?
Kizomba is one of the most popular genres of dance and music originating from Angola. It is a derivative of semba, with a mix of Kilapanda and Angolan Merengue, and sung generally in Portuguese. It is music with a romantic flow. It was the Kimbundu name for a dance in Angola as early as 1894. The kizomba dancing style is also known to be very sensual.
Kizomba is a dance and music that was created in Angola in early 1980s.It is also performed in other lusophone African countries, in Europe and in USA. It is known for having a slow, insistent, somewhat harsh, yet sensuous rhythm; the result of electronic percussion. It is ideally danced accompanied by a partner, very smoothly and slowly, though not too tightly. A rather large degree of flexibility in the knees is required, owing to the frequent requirement that dancers bob up and down.
The influence of Angolan kizomba is felt in most Portuguese-speaking African countries, but also Portugal (especially in Lisbon and surrounding suburbs such as Amadora or Almada), where communities of immigrants have established clubs centered on the genre in a renewed kizomba style. Kizomba is now also quite popular among white people that come to these clubs in growing numbers. The São Tomeankizomba music is very similar to the Angolan, Juka is the most notable among the Sãotomeans, but it is also one of the most notable performers in the genre.
In Angola most clubs are based in Luanda. Famous Angolan kizomba musicians include Neide Van-Dúnem, Don Kikas, Calo Pascoal and Irmãos Verdades, among many others, but Bonga is probably the best known Angolan artist, having helped popularize the style both in Angola and Portugal during the 1970s and 1980s.
Kizomba is mentioned in 1894 in the Bulletin of the American Geographical Society of New York which said “the genuine Kimbundu name is Kizomba, that is, dance.” In Angola in the 1950s the expression Kizombadas referred to a party. There was no association of the word to a dance or musical genre. However, the dance known as “Semba”, “Rebita”, “Kabetula”, “Maringa”, already existed in the 50’s and 60’s. Other dances coming from Europe like Tango were practiced by the Portuguese colonials. The “Plena” from Puerto Rico and are thought to be brought by the Cuban influence in Angola during the war. The style of Kizomba is now emphasizes a very smooth way of dancing with influences of Tango steps, but one of the main differences is that the lower body, the hip, does forward/backwards and circle movements. People dance on the tempo, as well as playing on the off beat and only sometimes using syncopation steps.
Countries where Kizomba is most popular include Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Portugal, Mozambique, Equatorial Guinea, São Tomé and Príncipe, East Timor, Martinique, Brazil and the territory of Macau.
Various individuals who feel involved with the Kizomba culture have been seriously promoting it in other countries, such as Belgium and surrounding nations, where an independent Kizombalove academy has been created by José N’dongala.
Kizomba in the UK
Kizomba has been present in the UK for about 20 years with Afro-Portuguese parties organized as early as 1991 in various venues around London. It only started crossing over to the public from 2005 when showcased in various Salsa clubs around the UK.