Afro-bian to parking lot pimping: an alternative guide to clubbing in Africa
DJ Edu went from Marrakech to Soweto meeting musicians at the forefront of dance. In an exclusive playlist he shares the tracks dominating the club scenes
DJ Edu – aka the “Afro Boss” – has been travelling across Africa meeting the musicians leading the continent’s alternative music and nightlife scenes. Here is his selection of the best tracks:
Lipala bounce in Kenya
My first stop took me to Nairobi, was where I was born and raised, but where the music and clubbing culture has changed – there is more variety now.
The secret to this new clubbing culture starts on the city’s streets. Many DJs, myself included, start out selling music on the public buses called matatus in Nairobi.
I met the current go-to-guy – DJ Brownskin – who provides the bus conductors with the hottest music, which means more passengers for them.
Nigerian music continues to dominate the clubbing scene, but Kenyan band Sauti Sol has bucked this trend. Their track, Sura Yako, is getting young people on their feet with the Lipala Dance – a traditional Kenyan dance that Sauti Sol have made contemporary. The band recorded an exclusive acoustic version of the song for us during our visit.
Afro-bian in Morocco
In Morocco, it’s all about fusing traditional music with modern sounds.
In a nightclub in Marrakech I met DJ Van, one of the country’s biggest DJs. He was playing Afro-bian, which he described as a mix of traditional and folk sounds but with big beats and bases.
Ahmed Soultan was another musician showcasing this new genre, as featured in the track Ya Salam. He took me to the city’s central square, Jemaa El Fna, and showed me where his inspiration came from.
These musicians are going back to their roots, but still making music that is relevant to the next generation and that’s getting them dancing in the clubs.
Parking lot pimping in Botswana
I found a very different scene in Gaborone in Botswana.
A tax increase on alcohol has made bars expensive and new laws mean that nightclubs are closing early or shutting down entirely. But young people are pushing back.
An alternative party scene is growing called “parking lot pimping” – basically enormous parties in car parks where people dance until dawn.
Festivals outside of the capital city are also drawing crowds away from the clubs. I went to one attended by more than 2,000 people dancing to live musicians and DJs – a club under the stars. One of the local DJs performing there was DJ Gouveia, whose track Ambuye is an anthem in the area.
Stylish sapeurs in Congo
The DRC has always been known for its music, but it is the colourful Sapeurs who are shaping the new culture of the capital, Kinshasa.
The Society for Ambience Makers and Elegant People, or La Sape in French, are unique in the way they dress. For these men, the world’s top fashion designers are high priests – the Sapeurs are devoted to expensive and extravagant clothing.
I went to a club with some local Sapeurs and they know how to party: the DJs notice when they enter a room and change the music to fit their colourful style.
F’Victeam’s Libre Parcours is an example of the alternative music I heard out in DRC. The fashion in the video and the dance itself typifies new Congolese music.
Kwaito house in South Africa
On my final stop, I travelled to Soweto – an important place in South African music and culture. Kwaito music originated from the townships and used to be huge here, symbolic of the struggle against apartheid. Now musicians and DJs have used traditional Kwaito beats, but sped them up to create a new music genre – South African House.
The track City Rains by Mobi Dixon featuring M.que showcases this new scene. South African House is really starting to break through to international prominence. theguardian
DJ Edu’s The Best Nightclub in Africa will air on the BBC World Service on Saturday 4 April, 1805-1900 GMT. DJ Edu also presents Destination Africa every Sunday on BBC Radio 1Xtra