Ghanaian comedian, Fanny Face Benson doing the Azonto
Cameroonian soccer legend Roger Miller had the world doing the ‘Roger Miller Dance’, and Ghana Black Stars player Asamoah ‘Baby Jet’ Gyan introduced the world to his celebration dance at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Well, Asamoah Gyan’s dance didn’t just die off as a football dance but morphed into a phenomenon that has come to be known as "Azonto" in Ghana and is spreading across the globe.
It is believed to have started somewhere in the southern part of the country, and has several suburbs in Accra including Dansoman, Tema and Nima claiming ownership, but the exact origin of this incarnation of Gyan's dance is still unknown, and the description of the word Azonto is as enigmatic as its origin. Starting off as a slang to describe a "loose", cheap or ghetto person, Azonto soon became a popular word when rappers like Sarkodie started using it in their songs. Azonto then became a genre of music based on the rhythm that was used by these popular musicians. People needed a way to dance to dance to the "new" rhythm, so they started to borrow from Asamoah Gyan’s hugely popular moves, and from there the Azonto dance was birthed.
Soon the buzz and moves travelled across the country, from schools, through the streets, into nightclubs, parties and even made its way into churches. The kids are doing it, men and women are trying it and people keep introducing their own elements to the dance. Azonto dance competitions have become permanent fixtures in most outdoor events in Ghana, with people battling it out to win all kinds of prizes.
Togolese football star, Emmauel Adebayor recently made the headlines after he sprinkled money on a female dancer in one such competitions. Even Amber Rose had to try the Azonto dance when she visited Ghana. Amber Rose's video became a hit on YouTube, as indeed have most Azonto-related vidz on the site.
The craze has even merited a Wikipedia entry:
“Azonto Dance is a form of dance which mainly involves movement of all the joints in your body in a rhythmic fashion taking very few steps. Just like most African dances, knee bending and hip movements are rudiments to dancing it. Movement in the dance include washing, driving, boxing, making-up et cetera. The dance evolved from the combination of a lot of local dance moves that originated from the southern-most part of Ghana during the early parts of the 2000s. The dance has evolved with the fast pace dance culture of modern West Africa. A closer observation of the various performers also reveals break dance moves being incorporated to it and the skinny jeans/tight shirts movement being adapted to it.”
“It is also true that before the dance became famous, youth in senior high schools, of Ghana, had a similar but different way of doing the dance. A modification of that is what we see today. It involved a similar movement of the feet, hands, and hips and at the end of every move a gunshot was mimicked with the hand and if possible the mouth.”
Yes, it appears Azonto is going global and if you want to learn how to do it, check out the Azonto lesson as explained in the video for Azonto by UK–based Fuse ODG featuring Tiffany!