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Evolution Of Shaku Shaku As Nigeria’s Leading Dance Step


Nigerian music includes many kinds of folk and popular types, some of which are known worldwide. It has always demanded movement. And then it became a media flare in the past decade and half, displacing foreign imports.

Dance has always been the proper reaction to music from Nigeria; it is not just dance of any kind but one that engages the soul and spirit. One thing that cannot be taken away from Nigeria music is the unique dance step that comes with the various beats and sounds. A lot of events and trends have occurred in the music industry over the years. But this year, notably, has seen the incorporation of street/razz dance step into mainstream music.

Over the years, there have been many popular dance steps introduced by various artistes. Some of these dance steps include Makossa, Galala, Suo, Yahoozee, Alanta, Azonto, Etighi, Skelewu, Alingo, Kukere, Shoki, Shakiti Bobo, Dab and now Shaku Shaku. As one of the precursors to this new era, Makossa, which will perhaps go down in history, as the most memorable Nigerian dance step is a Cameroun import that stole its way into Nigerian culture in the late 1990s and peaked in the early 2000s.

Congolese singer, Awilo Longomba was at the forefront of the movement with his song Coupe Bibamba. Its strong electric bass rhythms and prominent brass instilled spasmic gyrations in the dancer. Makossa, which means dance in the Douala language, traces its origin to a Douala dance called the kossa. The forceful thrusting of the hips present in Makossa still finds its way into present day music.

Galala came along and the show was taken over by who could stomp his or her feet on either side of the body in quick steady succession while in a bent posture that presumes he or she is about to tackle a bull. It was made popular by artistes from Ajegunle, a ghetto neighborhood in Lagos, and spearheaded by Daddy Showkey. The dance step went on to become a popular sight in social gathering, especially when its southern Nigerian influence, original Stereoman’s Sample Ekwe came on.

It was followed by Suo, which was made popular by singer Marvelous Benji. Suo requires the dancer to squat while opening and closing his or her knees and thighs. It gets interesting with the roll-around of the hands, which is followed with opening and closure, and pulled out afterwards.

Then enters Olu Maintain with Yahooze, which enshrined its place in the evolution of Nigerian dances in the mid to late 2000s. The only thing required of the dance was the pointing of fingers towards the sky in circular motions, and sometimes joining the shoulders.

Although Alanta didn’t last long, the original Nigerian dance found many imitating vigorous hand and hip movements as if scratching the chest, all the while raising one leg. Songs from Terry G Amanyi, the Akpako master engaged the rich creativity and humour of Nigerians as even the face of the dancer contorted into various forms while dancing. Despite the weirdness, people were onto it in no time.

Azonto and Etighi dance steps, which originated from Ghana and Akwa Ibom respectively, quickly replaced the Alanta in 2012. A number of Nigerian artistes made a lot of music from the dance step, and introduced it to the rest of the world. Chief among Nigerian acts that made hit from the dance is Afro-pop singer, Ayodeji Balogun well known as Wizkid, who was said to have taken the dance step all the way to the United States, where he taught acclaimed American singer, Chris Brown.

In 2013, Davido joined the list of singers attempting to create their own unique dance by introducing Skelewu, which didn’t quite take off on a massive scale. However, it came back to prominence when singer, MC Galaxy decided to create an offshoot of the dance that required a dancer to move to the side while still doing the Skelewu dance. This was tagged Sekem. With one hand on the chest and the other on your waist like the song advises, it was the duty of your predominant leg to move from side to side.

The defunct P-Square in 2015 introduced Alingo, a spin-off of Azonto, which didn’t last long. It was overtaken by a new step known as Shoki dance, which was introduced by Yagi Records head honcho, Lil Kesh. It spread like an infection, and so contagious that Ciara danced to it on her trip to Nigeria. All Shoki required was for the dancer to bend like he was picking an item that fell to the floor, and all the way up till the flick of hand indicates its journey has ended. The footwork was a basic alternate stamping on the floor.

Shoki was one of the longest reigning dance steps, lasting for almost three years before Olamide Adedeji’s Shakiti Bobo, which borrows foot movements of Sekem in addition to pumping the shoulders.

Then there was the Dab, the stuffing of one’s head into the armpits. The dance step made its way into Nigeria from the United States. The dance step can best be described as an intermission. Shaku Shaku as rave of the moment came on the scene in 2017, thanks to Olamide, popularly known as Badoo, who made it popular in the mainstream media. The dance has similarities to Suo in that the latter requires one to squat while opening and closing their knees and thighs.

The dance step is likened to the steps of a drunken person or someone, who is high in copious amounts of weed (marijuana). It is done by stretching out the arms and crossing them over each other in front, with the legs widened out and launching into a graceful half-gallop. The best routine in the dance is more of freestyle. It has even been tagged as the Nigerian Gangnam style.

According to DJ Real, the name Shaku Shaku is for street guys, and the dance was named after their particular style of dances when they are drunk or high with marijuana (weed). DJ Real thinks that the dance emanated from Agege area in Lagos. After months of trending beneath the surface, Olamide, who has a reputation for bringing the street into the mainstream media, showcased some dancers who displayed the dance step in the video of his hit song Wo. From there, the dance became popular.

The dance step further gained acceptance among Nigerians after the fourth edition of his annual Olamide Live in Concert (OLIC 4) show, which held at main bowl of Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, instead of the usual Eko Convention Centre of Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island. By the end of 2017, the internet was filled with different videos of people doing the dance, including popular artistes like Davido, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage, Slimcase, DJ Enimoney and DJ Cuppy.

Some of the songs synonymous with Shaku Shaku dance step include Dammy Krane’s Shaku Shaku, Omo Shepeteri by Idowest featuring Slimcase and Dammy Krane; Legbegbe by Mr. Real, Slimcase’s Oshozondi, This Year by Small Doctor, My Body by Zlatan Ibile featuring Olamide, Handkerchief by Cashwale and Reminisce’s Problem among many more.

As the latest dance step in the Nigerian music industry, it has become a trend in all the songs released. It has inspired and has been showcased in many other songs since it became popular. People can’t just get over it, as it has become a growing trend, with no sign that it will die down anytime soon. Everyone wants to know how to make the moves.

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Shaku Shaku
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