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Protest with Dance



(Source: BBC News)


Argentines are protesting in Buenos Aires over energy prices. But rather than the usual marches of demonstrations with shouting and placards, Argentines are protesting by dancing the Tango. Let’s take a look at how dance can and has been used as a form of protest.

Now most of the time we associate dance with fun, partying, celebrations such as weddings, ritual rites/custom rites of passage and health & fitness. But dance as a form of demonstration and protests?!

Well, as unusual and out of place it may sound, there is many cases of people demonstration by dancing, as a form of non-violent protest, and has shown to work. It’s quite a novel, beautiful even, to make your voices heard in a peaceful way, and seeing the BBC News video here of Argentines protesting and blocking the streets by dancing the tango can easily make authorities to stand up and listen. Especially, as tango is considered “the soul” of Argentine, if dance halls and bars are no longer able to afford to be kept open because of high bills of gas and electricity, then the soul of Argentine is threatened. This is why many people in Buenos Aires have come out on the streets to dance the tango to show their protestations.

“Dance as a way to express a rejection of societal injustice or inhibition has been an important venue for the creative imagination throughout the 20th and 21st century.” – Lindsey Golden, Dance as Social Protest

As mentioned earlier, there are many cases of people using dance as a form of communication and to express themselves. Let’s take a look at some of those that have been used as a form of protests.


Flash mobs

(Source: Flo6x8)


Yes, we all know what they are by now, and I’m sure some of you have participated in it in the Ceroc Med Fest 2015 holiday – there is video here of it btw! But for those that don’t know, a flash mob is, according to Wikipedia “is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then quickly disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, and artistic expression.” Though the definition is usually for entertainment, a flash mob has also been used to make a political statement, again by using dance.

A good example of this is a Flamenco flash mob that occurred in Spain, by the group Flo6x8. For many, flamenco is seen as an alluring part of Spanish culture, to the Flo6x8 group, they see flamenco as a powerful tool to voice dissent. Reported in theLocal news website:

“Flamenco was born among socially marginalised communities such as Gypsies, miners and other disadvantaged Andalusian groups. Lyrics from the 18th and 19th centuries tell tales of poverty and social hardship… But its political side has come out during times of social upheaval. Republicans during the Spanish Civil War sang ideological messages. And singers of the 1960/70s such as Manuel Gerena and José Menese challenged the Franco regime in pursuit of democracy and equality.”

And this is how the group Flo6x8 see themselves, as torch bearers of using flamenco to make social changes. There is even a video that you can see of them doing a flash mob at the Andalusian Parliament here.




Toyi-toyi is a dance that originated in Zimbabwe, in Southern Africa that has been used many times in political protests, including in South Africa during Apartheid where it was successful in intimidating South African forces. And it is still used today in South Africa as a way for people to demonstrate their grievances. Toyi-toyi works by stamping of feet and chanting of slogans and/or songs. As one slogan mentions, “You can take everything away from South Africa, but you can’t stop us from dancing”.


These are just a few examples of how powerful dance is in our cultures and societies. To express love, to express art, or for the simple joy of having fun and entertainment. But it is also a non-violent tool to demonstrate and try to communicate for social change or justice.

Remember, dance is a form of communication. You are communicate to not only your dance partner but also to everyone else. So keep on dancing and enjoy!