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Kizomba is one of the most popular genres of dance originating in Angola. It is a derivative of traditional Angolan semba. On this basis, kizomba music emerged from French-Caribbean zouk after 1986 when the band Kassav visited Africa, as a more modern music genre with a sensual touch mixed with African rhythm. Kizomba music is derived primarily from zouk. Unlike semba, kizomba music is characterized by a slower and usually very romantic rhythm.

Origin and evolution[edit]

Kizomba – music genre[edit]

Kizomba music was born in mid-1980s Africa, after the zouk Kassav did a tour of the Lusaphone countries, evolving from French-Caribbean zouk by mixing it with semba and coladeira. 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. Although zouk was originally sung in French, most kizomba songs are sung in Portuguese.

Today, Cape Verdean singers and producers have gained a wide popularity with many famous kizomba compilations, including singers such as Suzanna Lubrano, Kaysha, Atim, Nilton Ramalho,Johnny Ramos, Nelson Freitas, Mika Mendes, Cedric Cavaco, Elji, Looney Johnson, Klazzik, Mark G, To Semedo, Klaudio Ramos, M&N Pro, Gilson, and one of the greats in the Cape Verdean culture Gil. Original influential music styles from Cape Verde are funana, morna, coladeira and batuque. Thanks to the French Antilles compas music and the strong influence of semba (from Angola), Cape Verdean singers have developed significantly Kizomba and 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.[1]

Kizomba – dance genre[edit]

Basic steps of Kizomba

Kizomba is an evolution of the traditional dances of Angola semba and Cape Verde Passada 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. 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 beats.

At the beginning of its development, Africans were dancing semba or passada/colladiera, and other dances at a slower tempo according to the beat of kizomba music. Technically speaking, semba dances romantically to kizomba is the basis of the kizomba dance.[2]

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.[1]

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 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, 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 Cape Verde, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, 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.

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, Pérola, Anselmo Ralph and Irmãos Verdades.


Kizomba has been in Australia since around 2008 but only from 2012 has it started to gain popularity, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne. Kizomba arrived in Adelaide in 2012 with workshops by international instructors Helen Luu & Rob Lewis organised by Gerry Ekserdjian of Kizomba Dancers Adelaide.


Kizomba has been present in Belgium since 2006 thanks to José N'dongala from the Kizombalove Academy.


In Brazil, kizomba became famous when the pop artist Kelly Key released the album No Controle, in February 3, 2015. Key left the dance-pop/R&B songs to introduce the kizomba in Brazil.[3] In an interview Key said she sought originality and new styles: "I'm running this responsibility of being predictable. I wanted to record Kizomba for 13 years! Now I feel mature and have knowledge of movement".[4]


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.[5]


Kizomba has been taught in Finland at least since 2010 and has been growing in popularity ever since. There are regular weekly classes and parties in Helsinki and in Tampere. The biggest regular party is the Afrolatin Nights party in Uggla every Monday.


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


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


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

United Kingdom[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.

United States[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, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Los Angeles, DC, various cities in Texas and Florida, Chicago, Minneapolis and Atlanta.

Congresses and festivals around the world[edit]



  • Melbourne Kizomba Festival Takes place in Melbourne, Australia on 25-27 September 2015

  • Sydney Kizomba Festival Takes place in Sydney, Australia, on 18-22 February 2016

  • Awake Festival Takes place in Perth, Western Australia on 17-20 March 2016

  • Australian Kizomba Festival Takes place in Melbourne, Australia on 19-21 Aug 2016

  • Absolut Kizomba Festival Takes place in Adelaide, Australia on 29–30 May 2015


Czech Republic[edit]


In addition to this there are salsa festivals that include kizomba teaching. As an example BailaBaila Salsa Festival on Easter which on 2015 featured Morenasso & Anais and Greg Martin teaching kizomba.




  • Start: 2010 Tamás Nagy & Veronika Farkas
  • Kizomba Club Hungary founded: 2011
  • [Budapest Kizomba Connection] Takes place in Budapest in August since 2012.



  • KIFE Takes place in Trieste in September since 2012.









United Kingdom[edit]

  • Batuke Takes place in London since 2010.

United States[edit]

  • DC Kizomba Congress Takes place in Washington DC in conjunction with the DC Bachata Congress in August since 2013
  • Charlotte Bachata Salsa Fest Host a Kizomba Room and Kizomba instructors Every Year with a Dedicated Ballroom for Kizomba all weekend since 2012
  • International SF got kizomba! Festivals Take place in San Francisco (March & September from Sept 2012 to Sept 2013. After that, every March). These festivals were the first 100% Kizomba/Semba festivals in North America.
  • Miami Beach Kizomba Festival Miami Beach Kizomba Festival take place August 19–24, 2015. The largest Kizomba/Semba/Afrohouse Festival in the US with over 500 guest in its first year & an expected 750+ in its 2nd year. This year's music artists will include Grace Evora & Loony Johnson along with live music bands.
  • White House Kizomba Summit formally known as sKyzomba was the first Kizomba festival in Washington DC in July 2013 now held the 2nd weekend of April in celebration of Reconciliation of Peace in Angola.


External links[edit]