Feel it

When Fela Kuti & his band toured the United States in the late 60s and eventually took up residence in Los Angeles, they played as a 7-piece plus a dancer, a woman named Dele. The setup of L.A. clubs like Whiskey a Go-Go turned Fela on to the idea of situating dancers on a pedestal, and when the group returned to Lagos a few years later as Africa 70, their show heightened the prominence of Dele and the other dancers. I was reading all this on the bus home yesterday in an article about Tony Allen, the mastermind drummer of Africa 70 and co-creator of Afrobeat. And, maybe I was just overtaken by the intoxicating charms of DC public transport, but Allen’s reflection on dance as a muse for his approach to drumming struck me as (not sure of a better word here) straight-up sexy.

Afrobeat is always about dancing; like highlife, it is dance music, music for party. So my goal as a drummer was always to watch Dele dance. Dele was a great dancer. I would design patterns to make her move in the way that I found her the most beautiful. That is where those patterns come from, to command her to move in various ways. The relation to the woman in the audience to the dance was always a part of the music.

“Lady” from Shakara (1972)


One Response to “Feel it”

  1. samples Says:

    if that story ain’t sexy, than I don’t know what is.

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