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Kizomba is one of the most popular genres of dance and music originating in Angola.[1][2] It mixes influences of traditional semba with Angolan merengue and Kilapanda (traditional Angolan music). On this basis, Kizomba music emerged as a more modern music genre with a sensual touch mixed with African rhythm. Unlike semba, kizomba music is characterised by a slower and usually very romantic rhythm, sung generally in Portuguese.[3][4]

It was the Kimbundu name for a dance in Angola as early as 1894. The Kizomba dancing style is also known to be very sensual and flows with a music of a romantic flow.

Origin and evolution[edit]

Kizomba music was born in Angola (in Luanda) in the beginning of the 80’s following the influences of traditional semba with Angolan merengue and kilapanda, a traditional music from Angola. On this basis, kizomba music emerged as a more modern music genre with a sensual touch mixed with African rhythm.[3] Unlike Semba, Kizomba music is characterized by a slower and usually very romantic rhythm. Given that Angola is a former Portuguese colony, Portuguese is the principal language spoken in Angola and thus, also most Kizomba songs are sung in Portuguese. However, kizomba songs initially were sung in Kimbundu and in other National languages of Angola.

The dance style kizomba was connected to the music style in 1981, through "Bibi king of the pace" percussionist of the SOS Band, a group that merged other styles such as merengue[5] and Angolan rhythms to styles developed by contemporary groups; developing a sound more attractive and danceable, that then began circulating in the Angolan "Kizombadas" (party's).[3] One member of this group was Eduardo Paim that after the dissolution of SOS, moved to Portugal taking with him the timing of the kizomba rhythm, which began garnering fans in Lusitanian lands but was mistakenly confused with a variant of Zouk.[3]

Eduardo Paim

—I am the precursor of kizomba. It was a process that began in the early 80's with groups called Afro Sound Star, and soon after, SOS. I was inspired by Afro Sound Star, which had already adopted kilapanda as a reference style, and in the mix appeared things that excited me. I gathered a lot of references that I could grab from semba and our merengue, and these references eventually gave me conditions to unwittingly develop a sound which, face it, people fell in love with. When I arrived in Portugal (with my music), I was highly criticized and they even called it zouk. But it is not zouk. It is kizomba.[3]

Confusions between zouk and kizomba[edit]

Confusions between zouk and kizomba arose after many Cape Verdean emigrants arrived in France in the late 80's, having had contact with compas music and having mixed it with a traditional Cape Verde style the coladera, creating the Cabo love or cola-zouk; a derivative of zouk-love or the French Antilles compas, is very similar to kizomba and typically sung in Cape Verdean Creole. It is this rhythm that was confused with kizomba, and was heard in Portugal when Eduardo Paim arrived there and released his first record with kizomba music.

Currently, in Lusophone (Portuguese speaking) countries and communities around the world, due to it being difficult to distinguish between zouk, Cabo love and Kizomba, all these styles have been called kizombas, however in a rough and generic way, one can say that Zouk is sung in French and Antillean creole, Cabo love in Cape Verdean Creole and kizomba in Portuguese or kimbundu.

Some of the Festivals in which Kizomba plays a big part include Afrofever, Africadancar, Budapest Kizomba Connection, Batuke!, Estonia Tallinn Salsa Congress, Austria Vienna Sexy & Sensual Latin Festival, France, Germany, Bournemouth, Afro Cuban Salsa Festival Norfolk and Renaissance London.

Cultural influences[edit]

The influence of Angolan kizomba is felt in most Portuguese-speaking African countries, but also Portugal (especially in Lisbon and surrounding suburbs such as Amadora or Almada), where communities of immigrants have established clubs centered on the genre in a renewed kizomba style. Kizomba is now also quite popular among white people that come to these clubs in growing numbers. The São Tomean kizomba music is very similar to the Angolan, Juka being the most notable among the Sãotomeans, and also one of the most notable performers in the genre.

In Angola most clubs are based in Luanda. Famous Angolan kizomba musicians include Neide Van-Dúnem, Don Kikas, Calo Pascoal, Irmãos Verdades and Anselmo Ralph, among many others, but Bonga is probably the best known Angolan artist, having helped popularize the style both in Angola and Portugal during the 1970s and 1980s.

Kizomba dance[edit]

Kizomba is mentioned in 1894 in the Bulletin of the American Geographical Society of New York which said "the genuine Kimbundu name is Kizomba, that is, dance." [6] In Angola in the 1950s the expression Kizombadas referred to a party. There was no association of the word to a dance or musical genre. However, the dance known as "Semba", "Rebita", "Kabetula", "Maringa", already existed in the 50's and 60's. Other dances coming from Europe like Tango were practiced by the Portuguese colonials. The style of Kizomba now emphasizes a very smooth way of dancing with influences of Tango steps, but one of the main differences is that the lower body, the hips, do forward/backwards and circle movements. People dance on the tempo, as well as on the off beat and only occasionally use syncopation steps.[2]


Kizomba is also performed in other lusophone African countries, in Europe and in the USA. It is known for having a slow, insistent, somewhat harsh, yet sensuous rhythm; the result of electronic percussion. It is danced accompanied by a partner, very smoothly, slowly and sensuously, and with neither tightness nor rigidity. There are frequent simultaneous hip rotations coordinated between dance partners, particularly in the quieter refrains of the music.

Countries where kizomba is most popular include Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Portugal, Mozambique, Equatorial Guinea, São Tomé and Príncipe, East Timor, Brazil and the territory of Macau. Several individuals with a love of the Kizomba culture have been promoting it in other countries, such as Belgium and surrounding nations, where an independent Kizombalove academy has been created by José N'dongala.[citation needed]

Famous Angolan kizomba singers include Bonga, André Mingas, Liceu Vieira Dias, Neide Van-Dúnem, Don Kikas, Calo Pascoal, Heavy C., Puto Portugues, Maya Cool, Matias Damasio, Rei Helder, and Irmãos Verdades.

Kizomba in Belgium[edit]

Kizomba has been present in Belgium since 2006.[citation needed]

Kizomba in the UK[edit]

Kizomba has been present in the UK for about 20 years with Afro-Portuguese parties organized as early as 1991 in various venues around London. It only started crossing over to the public from august, 2006 when Iris de Brito and Kwenda Lima presented a showcase to the public at Scala, a nightclub in London.

Kizomba in the Netherlands[edit]

In the Netherlands Kizomba has gained popularity in the last 4 years.

Kizomba in the US[edit]

Kizomba has been present in the US for several years and the first ever Kizomba Classes in the US started in 2010 at China Harbor - Seattle using the steps and teaching technique from the NELSON CAMPOS Instructional Kizomba DVD levels I & II, but has seen a pronounced uptick in popularity starting in 2012. Interest in kizomba is most prominent in larger urban areas. Hotspots include Boston, New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, DC, various cities in Texas and Florida, Chicago, and Atlanta.

Kizomba in Australia[edit]

Kizomba has been in Australia since around 2008 but only from 2012 has it started to gain popularity, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne.

Kizomba in Malaysia[edit]

Kizomba was introduced in Malaysia a few years back but it officially took off back in 2011. Currently Malaysia has the most popular Kizomba dance scene across Asia. Kuala Lumpur (KL) being the capital has the biggest Kizomba crowd followed by Penang (A Small island). One can request/find Kizomba being danced in almost any Latin Dance Clubs/Social Dance Nights in KL. More Information on Kizomaba in Malaysia Visit KizombaKL or Kizombada Kuala Lumpur

Kizomba in Estonia[edit]

Kizomba has been known in Estonia since around 2010 but it quickly gained popularity in 2011 when local danceschools and -teachers started to offer regular courses for the interested.

In 2014, kizomba is easily one of the most popular styles among local afro and Latin dancers, along crossbody salsa (on1) and sensual bachata which were clearly dominant before.

Kizomba's sudden and fast-growing popularity in Estonia can be credited to Nemanja Sonero (DJ and international dance instructor living in Tallinn) who has teached kizomba here since 2011.[7]

Kizomba in Ghana[edit]

Kizomba is increasingly growing in popularity in the latin dancing community. It was introduced by Ebo Anderson in 2012 who currently host weekly Kizomba nights, classes and workshop.

Kizomba congresses around Europe[edit]






United Kingdom[edit]





Kizomba congresses around the United States[edit]


External links[edit]