It’s almost that time of the year when South Africans celebrate a day of great pride, Heritage Day. For those who don’t know it’s a day of dressing up in traditional attire and having a braai with family and friends. And drinking beer. or whiskey or Veuve Clicquot which is what I will do.
Is it really a celebration of culture? Or is it just another public holiday to live your best life, with your besties? And to take selfies.
While Apartheid may be a thing of the past, segregation is still rife. The dance community is an acute example of widespread divisions, however, it is based on ego and thankfully not race.
In a city of nearly 10 million people, the dance community – those that do Bachata, Cuban Salsa and Kizomba on a social level – is tiny.
I reckon there’s less than 5000 of us out of these millions. That’s right, it’s a percentage JZ would struggle to pronounce so I’m not even gonna try.
From my brief visits to the coast, Cape Town and Durban combined don’t come close to JHB in terms of numbers.
Yet, they have the same dilemma. Ego, in this world, is about sticking to your own kind, avoiding parties held by other dance schools and some even go as far as slandering their counterparts.
I believe that the trend of dissociation starts with the instructors. And I’ve seen the effects, the side-eye, the grill, pointing fingers. I see you, lady.
I’ve also seen instructors ignore potential Salseros/Kizombies at a workshop, at a shopping center. How do they expect this community to grow when they show interested strangers this ignorance?
Some of this dissociation is due to personal disputes (break-ups and money), and that is understandable. Actually, it’s not. These people, we people, are adults, can you adult? It’s tough I know but as Sean Kingston sings, I’m feeling like you letting go.
Ohk wait that song is not appropriate for this topic, but let go and adult. (see what I did there)
Cause why, there’s hope. Baila Afrika, Come Salsa, HNS, and Salsa Spirit have all co-hosted parties at some time, and I see a collaboration between Ahora Si and Angus Evolution for a party in Durban for the long weekend.
At the same time, the Kaya Festival in Mozambique is being supported by Baila Afrika and Come Salsa. Salseros and Kizombies are spoilt for choice. (What about Bachata?)
And that’s how it should be, choosing where to go cause it’s fun and not because your clique will be there.
Yes we are inclined to go with who and what makes us happy, but social dancing gives you the capacity to engage with those beyond your network.
Let’s let go of these Apartheid tendencies and embrace this era, and start a heritage where we can all genuinely smile with each other, enjoy the music and dance like you love it.