One of the most exciting subcultures that I have encountered while in France is the dance subculture, particularly the large group of individuals who love to dance Kizomba. I learned about this type of dance through a Senegalese guy named Mahomed, who I met at the park while watching football. He related to me that there were dance lessons at Punta Cana – a neighboring club – for five euros per lesson, and that I would have fun learning it. I therefore took him up on the offer and upon my arrival I was given a warm welcome and introduced to everyone. Subsequently, Mahomed and I became very good friends and together we frequent local venues to practice Kizomba.
Kizomba is a very sensual dance that originated in Angola. One must be very comfortable with physical contact from the opposite sex in order to participate. In fact, one of the basic instructions given by the teacher is that, “one must remain very close to their partner.” And if someone is having trouble with a technique, the instructor usually blames it on the two people not sticking close together. Another difficult aspect of the dance is that it requires the male to be the lead, while the female merely shadows what he does and follows his direction. Therefore, if the male is a beginner, as I am, the dance can be tedious and frustrating for both participants. Still further, since my French is not so great, more problems arise when I need to tell my partner something or when she needs to tell me something. But as time has went on, I have learned to simply have fun.
Learning Kizomba is something I would have never ventured into while in the United States. However, being in a different country and trying to make new friends, I have been forced to adapt to the French culture and do what they do, in order to fit in. This has proved a great benefit for me; I have met a lot of people, my French is improving, I am exploring new facets of the world which in turn is presenting me with new opportunities and making me more curious. I am now eager to learn more dances like the Salsa, for example, and I owe it all to the diversity which I have encountered while studying abroad.
Below is a clip of my first experience with Kizomba: