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Kizomba is one of the most popular genres of dance and music originating in Angola.[1] It is a derivative of traditional Angolan semba with zouk and compas music from the French Caribbean Islands.[2] On this basis, Kizomba music emerged as a more modern music genre with a sensual touch mixed with African rhythm. Unlike Semba, Kizomba music is characterised by a slower and usually very romantic rhythm, sung generally in Portuguese.[3][4]

Origin and evolution[edit]

Kizomba – music genre[edit]

Kizomba music was born in Angola (in Luanda) in the 1980s following the influences of traditional semba and zouk and compas music from the French Caribbean islands. On this basis, Kizomba music emerged as a more modern music genre with a sensual touch mixed with African rhythm. Unlike Semba, Kizomba music is characterised by a slower and usually very romantic rhythm. Given that Angola is a former Portuguese colony, Portuguese is the principal language spoken in Angola and thus, also most Kizomba songs are sung in Portuguese. However, early Kizomba songs were sung in Kimbundu and in other national languages of Angola.[2]

Today, Cape Verdean singers have gained a wide popularity with many famous Kizomba compilations, including singers such as Suzanna Lubrano, Johnny Ramos, Nelson Freitas. As a matter of course, a lot of people are confused about the origins of Kizomba music and wrongly believe it comes from Cape Verde because of their important role in Kizomba music production today. Typical music styles from Cape Verde are funana, morna, coladeira and batuque. Thanks to the French Antilles compas music and the strong influence of Kizomba (from Angola), Cape Verdian singers could develop their own version of zouk (mixing it with coladeira) known as cabo love, cola-dance, cola-zouk, cabo-swing and ghetto zouk. Moreover, every lusophone country has developed its own Kizomba music flavour.[5]

Kizomba – dance genre[edit]

Kizomba is an evolution of the traditional semba dance of Angola, however, it is evident that kizomba dance as we know it today evolved after the vogue of kizomba music. Since the 1950s, Angolan people used to dance semba. This tradition remained unchanged even when the group Kassav from the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe came to perform zouk music in Angola in the 1980s. In the 1990s, when the actual kizomba music got more and more popular, Angolan semba dancers started to adapt their semba steps according to the tempo and flavour of the Kizomba/zouk beats.[2]

At the beginning of its development, Angolans were dancing semba at a slower tempo according to the beat of the Kizomba music. Technically speaking, semba danced romantically to Kizomba music is the basis of the Kizomba dance[6] There is a considerable difference between Kizomba "the music" and Kizomba "the dance»: Kizomba "the dance from Angola" has no zouk influences. Kizomba "the music" has zouk influences from Guadeloupe and Martinique.[7]

Confusions between zouk and kizomba[edit]

Rhythmic model of the cola-zouk, 90~120 bpm.

Confusions between zouk and kizomba arose after many Cape Verdean emigrants arrived in France where they were exposed to the French Antilles compas music "zouk-love" in the 80s, they mixed it with a traditional Cape Verde style, the coladera, creating the cola-zouk, which is very similar to kizomba and typically sung in Cape Verdean Creole. It is this rhythm that was confused with kizomba, and was heard in Portugal when Eduardo Paim arrived there and released his first record with kizomba music.[5]

Currently, in Lusophone (Portuguese speaking) countries and communities around the world, due to it being difficult to distinguish between zouk, cabo love and kizomba, all these styles have been called kizombas, however in a rough and generic way, one can say that Zouk is sung in French and Antillean creole, cabo love in Cape Verdean Creole and kizomba in Portuguese or kimbundu.

Some of the Festivals in which Kizomba plays a big part include Afrofever, Africadancar, Budapest Kizomba Connection, Batuke!, Estonia Tallinn Salsa Congress, Austria Vienna Sexy & Sensual Latin Festival, France, Germany, Bournemouth, Afro Cuban Salsa Festival Norfolk and Renaissance London.

Cultural influences[edit]

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 Tomean kizomba music is very similar to the Angolan, Juka being the most notable among the Sãotomeans, and 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, C4 Pedro, Calo Pascoal, Irmãos Verdades and Anselmo Ralph, 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 also performed in other lusophone African countries, in Europe and in the USA. It is known for having a slow, insistent, somewhat harsh, yet sensuous rhythm; the result of electronic percussion. It is danced accompanied by a partner, very smoothly, slowly and sensuously, and with neither tightness nor rigidity. There are frequent simultaneous hip rotations coordinated between dance partners, particularly in the quieter refrains of the music.

Countries where kizomba is most popular include Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Portugal, Mozambique, Equatorial Guinea, São Tomé and Príncipe, East Timor, Brazil and the territory of Macau. Several individuals with a love of the Kizomba culture have been promoting it in other countries, such as Belgium and surrounding nations, where an independent Kizombalove academy has been created by José N'dongala.[citation needed]

Famous Angolan kizomba singers include Bonga, André Mingas, Liceu Vieira Dias, Neide Van-Dúnem, Don Kikas, Calo Pascoal, Heavy C., Puto Portugues, Maya Cool, Matias Damasio, Rei Helder, and Irmãos Verdades.

Kizomba in Belgium[edit]

Kizomba has been present in Belgium since 2006.[citation needed]

Kizomba in the UK[edit]

Kizomba has been present in the UK for about 20 years with Afro-Portuguese parties organized as early as 1991 in various venues around London. It only started crossing over to the public from August, 2006 when Iris de Brito and Kwenda Lima presented a showcase to the public at Scala, a nightclub in London. Also, because of the number of Afro-Portuguese descendants living in Britain, Kizomba is increasing its popularity and clubs in London particularly, are playing Kizomba and hosting a series of events with Kizomba dance.

Kizomba in the Netherlands[edit]

In the Netherlands Kizomba has gained popularity in the last 4 years.

Kizomba in the US[edit]

Kizomba has been present in the US for several years and the first ever Kizomba Classes in the US started in 2010 at China Harbor – Seattle using the steps and teaching technique from the NELSON CAMPOS Instructional Kizomba DVD levels I & II, but has seen a pronounced uptick in popularity starting in 2012. Interest in kizomba is most prominent in larger urban areas. Hotspots include Boston, New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, DC, various cities in Texas and Florida, Chicago, Minneapolis and Atlanta.

Kizomba in Australia[edit]

Kizomba has been in Australia since around 2008 but only from 2012 has it started to gain popularity, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne. More information on Kizomba in Sydney, visit [1] or [2]. Kizomba Sydney Facebook [3]. More information on Kizomba in Melbourne, visit [4]. More information on Kizomba in Perth visit Danza Loca[5] or Kizomba Muxima[6] Kizomba arrived in Adelaide in 2012 with workshops by international instructors Helen Luu & Rob Lewis organized by Kizomba dancers Adelaide. This group continues to promote Kizomba with dance classes & a monthly social night @ the Caledonean hotel. Find them on Facebook.

Kizomba in Malaysia[edit]

Kizomba was introduced in Malaysia a few years back but it officially took off back in 2011. Currently Malaysia has the most popular Kizomba dance scene across Asia. Kuala Lumpur (KL) being the capital has the biggest Kizomba crowd followed by Penang (A Small island). One can request/find Kizomba being danced in almost any Latin Dance Clubs/Social Dance Nights in KL. More Information on Kizomaba in Malaysia Visit KizombaKL or Kizombada Kuala Lumpur

Kizomba in Estonia[edit]

Kizomba has been known in Estonia since around 2010 but it quickly gained popularity in 2011 when local danceschools and -teachers started to offer regular courses for the interested. In 2014, kizomba is easily one of the most popular styles among local afro and Latin dancers, along crossbody salsa (on1) and sensual bachata which were clearly dominant before.

Kizomba's popularity in Estonia has been fast-growing and, so far, with a strong and lasting impact. It can be credited to Nemanja Sonero, DJ and international dance instructor living in Tallinn, who has taught kizomba there since 2011.[8]

Kizomba in Ghana[edit]

Kizomba is increasingly growing in popularity in the Latin dancing community. It was introduced in 2012.

For more detailed Kizomba social events across the world


Kizomba congresses around the world[edit]







Czech Republic[edit]


  • [Budapest Kizomba Connection] Takes place in Budapest in August since 2011.

United Kingdom[edit]

  • Batuke Takes place in London since 2010.



  • KIFE Takes place in Trieste in September since 2012





Kizomba congresses around the United States and Australia[edit]

  • International SF got kizomba! Festivals Takes place in San Francisco in March & September since Sept 2012. These festivals were the first 100% Kizomba/Semba festivals in North America.
  • DC Kizomba Congress Takes place in Washington DC in conjunction with the DC Bachata Congress in August since 2013


  • Miami Beach Kizomba Festival
  • Australian Festivals
  • Sydney Kizomba Festival Takes place in Sydney, Australia, on 13–16 February 2015
  • Awake Festival [7] Takes place in Perth, Western Australia on 5–8 March 2015
  • Australian Kizomba Festival [8] Takes place in Melbourne, Australia on 30 July-2 Aug 2015


  1. ^ "Kizomba". Salsa Dancers. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  2. ^ a b c "Origin of kizomba". Retrieved December 3, 2005. 
  3. ^ "Eduardo Paim "Sou o precursor da Kizomba"" (in Portuguese). O País. Retrieved 2012-06-22. 
  4. ^ "Artistas nacionais à conquista do mundo" (in Portuguese). O País Online. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  5. ^ a b "Cabo zouk". Transnational Archipelago: Perspectives on Cape Verdean Migration and Diaspora. Retrieved December 3, 2005. 
  6. ^ Adebayo Oyebade. Culture and customs of Angola. p. 156. 
  7. ^ José N’dongala Kizombalove Methodology teachers course – Kizomba Teachers Course, pp. 19–21
  8. ^

External links[edit]