Any Afropop song worth its salt is inherently hinged upon its ability to make you dance, and artists tend to gear the music towards danceable rhythms that will get a party started or rile a crowd of concert-goers up. While we did the Makossa, Swo and Yahooze through our formative years in the noughties, those dance moves didn’t quite hold the kind of reverence the ones we have today do.
Over the past few years, some artists have seen massive success due to their attachment to a particular dance move, which catapulted their songs to new heights. Take Zlatan for example, who coined the current rave, Zanku (an acronym for the phrase “Zlatan Abeg No Kill Us”), which has birthed its own sound of popular music at the moment. Even though there is a slight obsession at home to declare the end of the Zanku era, it’s wise to truly appreciate something for what it is. Starting as a dance from the streets of Lagos, popularised by Zlatan and Chinko Ekun, Zanku became a global phenomenon, which has most recently been tapped into by Beyoncé in her latest film, ‘Black Is King’. For that alone, the movement will go down in history as one of the most dominating runs in Nigerian culture.
Now that outside is closed, and we don’t even know when it will be safe to hit the clubs again, we’re missing all those sweaty times when the person standing next to you just had to spread themselves to bust a shoki – even when there’s literally no space for all of that. So while we’re reminiscing about those times, we’ve decided to look back at all the popular dances we had in the last decade. From Davido’s Skelewu to the Shaku Shaku which made it over the shores, here are the most popular dance moves we had in the past decade:
Galala (Nigeria, ’90s)
Granted, this dance arrived way before the 2010s, but we just had to give the Galala an honourable mention, seeing as the move still goes off today.
Dancing has remained a reliable bridge between the street (ghetto) and popular Nigerian culture. When Daddy Showkey emerged from the streets of Ajegunle to dominate the mainstream music scene in the ’90s, he brought along the Galala dance step which required dancers to bend their knees and shuffle their feet in one spot. The dance has remained evergreen and saw a sort of resurgence through the late 2010s, with dancers still referencing it occasionally to show their range and performers like Santi breaking out the move to wow their fans. Though Daddy Showkey, Baba Fryo and others from that region were known for popularising the dance and the sound that goes along with it, the credit for its origin goes to the vibrant dance scene in the Ajegunle ghetto.
Azonto (Ghana, 2011)
If we never get to the bottom of the friendly war between Nigeria and Ghana, we’ll pin it on the fact that Wizkid hijacked their dance move and made it his own. Back in 2012, the azonto was all the rave, thanks to Sarkodie and E.L’s late 2011 offering, “U Go Kill Me”. Initially emerging from Accra’s bubbling Jamestown, the moves and sequencing for the azonto dance can be in part credited to the Ghana’s Ga tribe. Making it all the way to Prince William and David Cameron in the UK, for the diaspora communities in particular, the Azonto became a unifying symbol of West African pride, and was arguably the first dance to popularise social media challenges, which have in turn changed the way we appreciate music.