What do Zimbabwean ramba musicians and Detroit electronic-dance OG’s have in common?
More often than not the internet can turn into an endless void of plentiful nothingness. But there are times when it facilitates truly remarkable connections between people from such varying cultures that the result can only end in something immensely intriguing and special. One such connection is the peculiar development of two different dance subcultures which share the same name.
In Detroit, Jit is a dance which originated in the 1970s and was popularised by a dance crew called The Jitterbugs and then during the 1980s through a TV show called The Scene. In Zimbabwe, it’s a style of ramba music which gave birth to various dance styles in the 1970s and was popularised by bands such as Bhundu Boys and later through a Zimbabwean film called ‘Jit’ , which was rooted in the subculture and released in 1992.
still from ZCCD video
The discovery of the connection between the two lead to the development of the ZCCD JIT project. The project was launched with a video of a call-and-response dance-off (found on the ZCCD project page). Zimbabwean-Jit veteran, Franco Dakha aka Slomo, danced Zimbabwean-Jit to Detroit electronic music, followed by Detroit-Jit veteran, Haleem Rasul aka Stringz, dancing Detroit-Jit to Zimbabwean ramba music.
still from ZCCD video
This year, the ZCCD teamed up with the Harare-based Jibilika Dance Trust to host Stringz while he researches Jit in Zimbabwe. The project is culminating in an event this weekend which incorporates the unique dance connection between the two subcultures as well as a collaboration between Detroit and Zimbabwean DJs, who will be playing sets whilst connected via Skype – mixing together in real-time.
It’s easy to resort to cynicism these days regarding musical connections and relationships between Africa and the western world as the intentions behind the relationship can often feel contrived. Which is why one of the most exciting elements of the project and event are their roots in an organic connection and something truly shared; and the sincere desire to learn from each other.
Details on the flyer below: