We are living in a world where social dance is currently a bit restricted, very restricted or outright forbidden. But before we ended up where we are now, kizomba and the related dances kizomba fusion and urban kiz managed to conquer the world, in just a few years.
Recently I realised that I actually took my very first kizomba steps in 2004, with a friend from Cape Verde. She showed me the steps in a normal club. So, in PALOP communities kizomba has been present around the world for quite a long time, but I didn't start dancing kizomba until 2011 and then there were maybe just 3-5 festivals per YEAR in Europe. In 2015 I had already been travelling to teach in several different continents. So, from 2011 to 2015 we went from having 3-5 kizomba festivals per year in Europe, to having 3-5 festivals every weekend and festivals in many other places all over the world. And in 2019, it was much more.
There are many reasons for this. I probably don't see them all, and I will not mention all I can think of here either. But these are some of the big reasons I see (other people might have other reasons) for kizomba conquering the world.
First of all, we have the music. When kizomba started spreading outside of Angola, other PALOP countries and Portugal, I would say the music was a big part of what made it popular. But I think the shortcut to Western ears was the Ghetto Zouk. Artists like Nelson Freitas, Mika Mendes, Kaysha, Anselmo Ralph and many more created a path to first the European dancers, and then North America and the rest of the world. It was a very pleasant and easy to listen music, which was also more similar to the sound of RnB we were already used to. Real kizomba was a bit more different and required a bit more experienced ears, but many of us grew to like it. So I believe the pleasant music was definitely part of it.
The second pretty obvious thing was the dance - it was different. It was closer than salsa, very sensual, and different from bachata. In a way more similar to tango, with a close embrace, but maybe not as strict in how you dance it as tango. It was freer and allowed a lot of freedom in how you took your steps and played with the music. It was not danced on 1 or on 2, but it was free to step as you wished. No strict patterns you had to follow.
And I think at this time it also didn't look very complicated. It didn't look like it was too difficult. So it was possible for someone to see it, think that they could actually do that too and decide to search out a school. So I believe that the dance in itself was a big part of kizomba conquering the world.
When kizomba started conquering the world, social media was already mainstream. I know a lot of people saw kizomba for the first time on YouTube. And a lot of them watched a famous video with Sara & Albir. Many other kizomba artists have used social media and videos for promotion, and there are many videos with millions of views.
All these videos helped promote kizomba and helped spread it across the world. Even if a lot of the videos didn't show the authentic kizomba, they helped spread the word and the dance across the world.
Then there is something more, something that you can find in many social dances, if not all. I write about it a bit in my book "The Secrets of Social Dance". I call this "the escape".
Maybe you have experienced it yourself - a feeling of being totally present, forgetting everything else. No problems exist in the world. Whatever occupies your mind at other times, it is gone the moment you start dancing.
In a way it's an escape from our lives into a dream world of dance. It is like taking a vacation from problems, going to a place of no worries. It is a bit like meditation, being totally present, here and now.
Today we are bombarded with information, media fills us with thoughts of things we need to fear. Wars, terrorism, the pandemic, economic crisis and much more. And then we can all have our own personal worries and troubles in life. Dance provides a temporary escape from all this, and kizomba is one of the dances where you can experience this escape.
Last but not least, there is something about kizomba that makes it addictive. When we are close to someone, when we experience touch on our skin, we release a hormone called oxytocin, in addition to the dopamine we release when we dance. This oxytocin is called the "cuddle hormone" or a well-being hormone and it makes us feel good. It can even reduce feelings of depression. In Just 20 seconds of hugging we start releasing it. Imagine what hours and hours of dancing kizomba will do?
Yes, I believe this is yet another reason, maybe one of the most important ones that kizomba became popular. I believe people need this today. In a way, we are closer to many people today. We have more connections all over the world, but these are weak ties. They are not the strong ties that we need in life. And these connections are not physical. We need to be close, physically, to other people or we go crazy. Kizomba gives us this opportunity. It helps us release this hormone, and it makes us feel good. It can even make us happier.
So these are some of the most important reasons why I believe kizomba conquered the world. If you agree or disagree, feel free to comment on the post where you found this link on facebook. Soon I hope to install comments here too.
If you want, feel free to read some other posts, or check out my books about dance on Amazon!
Suggestion - Check the free classes and other kizomba & fusion courses here
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