(Every once in a while, Google Analytics’s list of keywords that bring you, Dear Reader, to my blog comes up with good ideas to write about. The scary thing is that converse of the truism that there is someone writing about pretty much anything on the Internet holds true: there is someone searching for pretty much everything on the Internet. Et voilà today’s post, inspired for you by the intrepid Googlenaut searching for “Writtendescription of how soukous women have their waist”. My blog was at no. 3 when I wrote this post; I should hope it rises somewhat.)
The Dany Engobo/Coeurs Brisés videos, where the mild and inoffensive zouk tunes clearly play a supporting role to the hypnotic tummy-shaking of the Coeurs Brisés (Broken Hearts) troupe of dancers, could be, if you took them lightly, campy as all get out, but I don’t see them that way. Instead, there’s something deeply serious about the attractiveness of lissome women moving hypnotically to the middle-aged male head of family. Strangely enough, watching such dance videos for an hour or so, or the length of a VHS tape, always proved relaxing, like a nice afternoon nap, rather than erotically stimulating.
A couple years later I met the guitarist Diblo Dibala after a summer concert at South Street Seaport. My buddy from work Rose was a friend of one of his two backup dancers, the older one. The younger one had managed to shatter boundaries by being a Brooklyn girl (bizarrely nicknamed Electra) who was touring the world as an African dancer. This only reinforced to me the complete inauthenticity of soukous music and soukous-dancing videos; these were products of late 20th-century cultural capitalism, not the honest and straightforward expression of prelapsarian village life that is the default approach to African cultural products. In other words, folks were watching these videos (and Diblo’s dancers) not because they had some kind of cultural relevance to the viewer, but because they liked the dancing, or the physiques of the dancers, or both. My interest was validated; I didn’t have to come from some Kinshasa faubourg in order to appreciate it.
Here are some examples: