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What do wazungu in Uganda dance to?

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White tourists dance to music such as house, techno, trance, hip hop, dubstep, reggae and RnB. They are also welcoming to local music. Inset is Andy Skills, one of the best deejays in town.

There is a myth about how White people cannot dance. Call it a stereotype. Call it prejudice. Better still, call the difference between my last two sentences ‘six of one, half a dozen of the other’.

One cannot pinpoint the date this myth choreographed every knee-jerk response in agreement with it. However, its origin owes a lot to fable instead of fact.

White people can dance 

Take Anna Pavlova, Rudolf Nuryev, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Margot Fonteyn, Ginger Rogers, Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, Twyla Tharp, Mikhail Barysnikov, and Vaslav Nijinsky, for instance.

All of them White, all of them good dancers. Let us not forget how White people artfully shake what their mamas gave them to ‘ballroom’ dancing - waltz, foxtrot, maxina and quickstep. Still, the myth persists.  It may have even gotten worse.

Dance is for girls

Straight White men cannot dance, according to Maxine Craig, a professor of sociology at the University of California. She attributes this to specific cultural biases. These grew out of gender-specific fictions, with dance being associated to the display of less-than-masculine traits.

 “Certain kinds of dance have long been considered feminine. In the United States, ballet has always been considered feminine. Any men who became professional dancers, whether it was ballet or another kind of dance, always had to apologise for it in some way. In the biographies of Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, they both say they became dancers by accident,” says Craig.

After gender roles were blurred, however, dance was given a chance in the White community.

Still, there was resistance.

“People associate disco with Saturday Night Fever, but it really emerged from Black communities. It was not a scene White men were ready to be comfortable in and they rejected it. Now, all of these patterns are complicated, and none of this applies to any group 100 percent. But there was this “Disco Sucks” campaign at Comiskey Park, where baseball fans came and burned disco albums. There was too much hostility for it to ever build up the masculine credibility that swing dancing had,” Craig explains.

Kona dance

In Uganda, though, dance is a cultural digest. Traditional dances of every kind express cultural significant events and a broad sweep of emotions. Their folkloric worth represents a way of living, beliefs and norms. So, dance does not belong to any gender or race, it belongs to us all.

Dance’s shared belonging is why Andy Skills weekly gets a number of multiracial butts on the dancefloor at Otters Bar on King’s African Rifles Drive, Kololo, Kampala. His journey to this level has covered a lot of ground.

He started his career in the early 2010’s, working with Rhino K Sounds and Soul Disco, which diversified his career to school events. He has been building since and started out working in school projects, with St Lawrence schools and later joined the Speke Group, which set a foundation for his career.

“I later started working with corporate organisations such as US Embassy, Bank of Uganda, Centenary Bank, Stanbic Bank, Kololo Gardens, Buganda Kingdom, Uganda UK convention, Uganda Youth Forum UK, Muziki Oyee USA, Pearlchat Tv UK, UNAA, among others. My career peeked during my tenure with the Speke Group, which led up to partnerships with Big Mike’s, Otters and Latitude O,” says Skills. 

Best international  DJ

The late DJ Alex Ndawula, who is an inspiration to Andy Skillz, noticed the latter’s cross-cultural appeal and hailed him as Uganda’s top international DJ.  This has cast his experience in a different way to your everyday Ugandan deejay.

 “It started with Alex Ndawula (RIP), a renown radio DJ in Uganda in an interview with Kampala Sun, where he said I was the best international DJ in Uganda. I have worked with multiple international organisations, who have constantly recommended me. Some of these include US Embassy and the Irish Society in Uganda.”

“My recent experiences at the US Marines Ball, St Patrick’s Day Craig 2020 and the St Patrick’s Day 2023 as the official DJ, have enabled me to network with numerous important and impactful people who helped me gain international recognition,” he says. 

Music Ugandans dance to

Andy’s vast experience at abolishing people’s two left feet from the dancefloor is well known. This experience has bolstered his own knowledge regarding what different people dance to in Kampala.

“Ugandans majorly dance to local music over recent years according to age groups, different cultures and regions. They also dance to music like Lingala, soul, oldies, amapiano and Afro beats,” he reveals.

“Ugandans previously danced majorly to RnB, Hiphop, Soul, band music, Congolese, South African and old school music. But this has changed in recent years as they are now bigger fans of their music and artists with music ranging from afro fusion to amapiano, among others,” Skills adds.

What “Wazungu” dance to

The singular noun mzungu is a Bantu word that means wanderer. The term is currently used in predominantly Swahili-speaking nations to refer to foreign people. Wazungu is the plural noun of mzungu.

When these people wander onto the dancefloor, they are not monolithic in the way they shake their tail feathers, so to speak.

“White tourists dance to music such as house, techno, trance, hip hop, dubstep, reggae and RnB. They are also welcoming to our music,” says Andy.

While expatriates, well, that is a different kettle of fish.  “According to their countries of origin, expatriates dance to Country, Rock and roll, garage, deep house and house,” says Andy.