Kizomba is the name of a dance style as well as music style, that was created in Angola in the early 1980s. It is also performed in other lusophone African countries, in Europe and the USA.
It is known for having a slow, insistent, somewhat harsh, yet sensuous rhythm as result of the electronic percussion. It is ideally danced accompanied by a partner and ist supposed to be smooth, slow and danced with a not too tight embrace. A rather large flexibility of the knees is required, owing to the frequent bouncing of the dancers.
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 Tomeankizomba music is very similar to the Angolan, Juka is the most notable among the Sãotomeans, but it is 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 and Irmãos Verdades, 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 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.” 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 “Plena” from Puerto Rico and are thought to be brought by the Cuban influence in Angola during the war. The style of Kizomba is 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 hip, does forward/backwards and circle movements. People dance on the tempo, as well as playing on the off beat and only sometimes using syncopation steps.
Kizomba means “party” in Kimbundu, a Bantu language spoken by Ambundu in Angola. The word kizomba is also used as an umbrella-expression to include several other dance styles that derived from the original dance (s.a. Urban Kiz, Kizomba Fusion).