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The March of the Madiba-Dancing Chickens

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Watching everyone and their dog “do the Madiba-dance” feels a bit like being on some pretty powerful hallucinogenic mango - flavoured Kool-Aid.

     

At the public toilets at De Waal Park, there is a handwritten sign begging “Please!!! No drugs in the toilets.” It is unclear whether this is an appeal to our better collective judgment, or a plea borne of desperation.

Perhaps, due to some previous unpleasant incident, there is a fear of the toilets simply collapsing under the sheer weight of narcotics consumed by City Bowl-dwelling Sunday afternooners watching Afro-fusion bands faux toyi-toying.

At least that’s what the band Hot Water were doing as intros and outtros to their set this past Sunday, while an enthusiastic crowd of “people-who-can-afford-to-live-in-the-CBD” (and a giant corporate chicken) looked on and danced, seemingly unaware of all this delicious flame-roasted irony.

To be fair, it has been said by recording industry execs, radio and TV pundits, and marketing experts that South African artists need to create South African sounds in order to appeal to the market – in the same way, I suppose, that South African restaurants are supposed to create African recipes for tourists.

That’s all good and well, and bands like Hot Water do what they do to great success – European tours and all. But it’s hard to witness a scene like the one at De Waal Park this past Sunday and not feel a just a hint of spicy cynicism.

Populist, happy ethno-fusion styled music probably does well for relations across colour lines in SA (and we should take all the help we can get), but there are situations where watching everyone and their dog (literally) “do the Madiba-dance” feels a bit like being on some pretty powerful hallucinogenic mango-flavoured Kool-Aid. It’s what WWE legend Mick Foley jokingly calls the “cheap pop”, and it’s ok if you’re in on the joke, but weird and uncomfortable when you’re trying to decide which one of you is the dancing chicken.

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