Feb
07


There is nothing that brings me out of a funk like dancing.  Dancing has been the way that people have celebrated the world over, since we had feet. Science has even confirmed that it really IS good for you, as it releases all those lovely endorphins. And it’s free. You don’t have to be rich to dance.  My personal dance epiphany occurred when I was invited to my first Haitian party (which by definition is a dance party). I had my trepidations — what if I danced “wrong?”  I need not have worried. Just the fact that I was moving seemed to be enough to elicit smiles of approval. And the compas beat was SO EASY to dance to: no counting, no worrying over “steps.” You could fit just about any move into it, from the complex to the simple….you could even just pogo to it. I danced all night.  I mention all of this because Diblo Dibala was in town for GlobalFEST playing the Congo’s most uplifting export, soukous, which to my ear shares a pulse with Haitian compas, and even the dance form that co-inhabits the island, the Dominican merengue. The producers of GlobalFEST wisely put Diblo at the end of the evening, along with the other get-em-up-and-dancing bands in the other two rooms. And dance we did;  after a few songs, I put my camera down and joined in.

Yes, there are sound problems (in an otherwise excellent evening’s sound) but I really wanted to share that which cannot be conveyed exclusively by ear.  One must see, too, in order to appreciate the participatory nature of this genre, and understand why the crowd roars approval as the dancers enter 3 minutes in. Check out those sensuous rolling moves that shout to the world “These women don’t need Pilades!” But don’t  be intimidated by these fabulous dancers.  This is party music. Just get up and move. You’ll feel great.

At home, Dibala’s been dubbed “the machine gun” for his rapid fire, clean as a whistle guitar licks, but you won’t hear any western style shredding coming from him. Rather, his guitar lines, like his vocals, float on top of the groove or weave in and out, giving the sound a sugar-sweet lilt. This is guitar work in the service of the beat, not the ego.

Connection of Note: I first noticed Dibala’s name as the co-author of Dominican megastar Juan Luis Guerra’s 1992 hit “El Costo de La Vida.”

One listen to the original track “Kimia Eve” shows just how close Guerra stayed to Diblo’s version.

For more Congolese dance music, check out one of my earlier posts of Papa Wemba at WOMEX.



3 Responses to “The Seductions of Soukous”

 
  1. Gabrielle says:

    Hi!
    I am one of the dancers in the video you posted!
    Our group is called Nubia and we dance with Diblo often ….
    We just wanted to say thanks for writing this article and telling everyone that the dance floor is open!
    Take Care!

    • Michal says:

      Which one are you????? just so I know 😉

      • Gabrielle says:

        HI!
        I’m the one that’s got the big hair 😀 dancing closest to Diblo.
        Ivone is the beauty with the braids in the center.
        And Jessica is the one with the shorter hair and the killer waistline and abs! 😀
        The wonderful backup vocals is Marijo. She’s not part of our group … YET! LOL.
        If you have any more footage or photos of us from this show is there a way we could get in touch with you to see them?
        Or maybe even have a few by email?
        Please let me know!
        All of us love the article so much. Thanks again!

 

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Michal
Welcome!

Here’s where you’ll find my weekly original world music video blogs that appear on Huffington Post, as well as an archive starting in April of 2009.

This is also the place where you will find video that is exclusive to my site. I’ve traveled to places like Uzbekistan, Morocco, and Taiwan and no matter where I go I have found amazingly talented and creative people working in every genre from the deepest traditions to the cutting edge.

It’s been incredibly rewarding to interview them and to capture some of what they do on video. Enjoy what you see and hear, and let me know what you think. I welcome your feedback.

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