Review: Shangaan Electro

For one night only, Bristol’s Exchange was taken over by a phenomenon known as Shangaan Electro.

The Exchange

Tickets: £6-8

Shangaan Electro is a street dance phenomenon that has emerged from South Africa, and is probably the most distinctive type of music I have ever listened to.

A fusion of tribal-style African vocals, and breathtakingly exciting dancing, it prides itself on being insanely fast. The performance comprised of one man behind the decks, and 4-6 highly-skilled dancers at the front, who frequently interacted with the crowd.

Throughout the performance, the leader, Richard “Nozinja” Mthethwa, a very charismatic and entertaining man, would engage the audience in a chant of “1 – 8 – 9”, to remind them of just how fast the music was.

The Frontman – Nozinja

The night itself was very strange, with a crowd that must have hit an average age of at least 30+.  A lot of people were just there to listen. Nothing wrong with that, but the music played demands dancing as far as I’m concerned.

Shangaan Dancers

I may be a little caught in the hysteria of it all, but this was genuinely the best thing I’ve been to in Bristol over the last two and a half years.

I really cannot find fault with this night. I tried to, and thought that the Exchange’s rubbish sound system would have ruined it, but it just didn’t matter. The great intimacy offered by such a small venue made all the little things like that completely obsolete.

an attempt to capture some crazy Shangaan dancing

The phenomenon of Shangaan Electro is still very young, so hopefully the excitement of such an intensely entertaining genre will catch on, and perhaps we’ll see more of them in the future. Needless to say, if they do return, just go. Any opportunity to dance to a bit of Shangaan, exhausting as its tempo is, should not be missed.