It is Saturday afternoon, December 28 2013, at Bingu International Conference Centre (Bicc) in Lilongwe where Francis and Priscilla’s wedding reception has reached a boiling point.
All eyes in the hall are glued to the bridal party dance, which is energetic and electric on the red carpet leading to where the new wedded couple is sitting.
Donning short purple-dresses with stylish ivory-coloured scarfs around their shoulders, the young men cladding ivory-coloured trousers, waistcoats and neckties and purple shirts to boot, they are a complete entertainment unit. They have conquered the hall with their distinctive dance to a song called Sunayo by Shakalewa.
The bridal party’s dancing antics are not only entertaining fans present at the wedding, but also those who are able to access the wedding’s video clip on YouTube. The clip is called Best Bridal Dance in Africa/Malawi, which was filmed by Bensam Entertainment.
During most weddings, women in the bridal party put on high heels that may be difficult for them to generate captivating dance moves. But this is not the case in Best Bridal Dance in Africa/Malawi, where women put on light shoes that helped them to be flexible to different dance styles, even if it is rotating and squatting.
Today, the video clip has attracted one million plus views and hundreds of comments YouTube such one by Debordelful, which goes: “Good idea to wear short dresses and flat shoes for the dance! Most bridesmaids can’t even move because of their big dresses and high heels so they never have any energy. I love them moving together too. In some other weddings, they haven’t got any rehearsal, they don’t know the moves, one goes to the left, another to the right, total mess. This is perfect, even if the guests seem to be sleeping.”
Kekekiwi also commented: “The chick in the front has good energy. That’s the only reason I kept watching. I don’t like it when people act like they are ashamed to dance. Why’d you get up/volunteer for it in the first place?”
Since time immemorial, weddings in Malawi have been heavily characterised by certain traits of traditional values.
However, these days, bridal dances seem to be at the discretion of the bride and groom, which has seen them creating unique dance styles that have become common at most weddings and sparked debate among fans.
“Today, weddings are places where people find entertainment because the bridal party dances like nobody’s business. It is no longer one-two-three or back-forward-sideways kind of steps that people used to do back in the day. We love this trend because it shows that Malawi is progressing in terms of entertainment that is provided during weddings. People no longer want to be dosing or sleeping at weddings,” said a regular wedding-goer Shaireen Matewere from Zingwangwa Township in Blantyre.
She added that nowadays days, people patronise weddings, bridal showers or engagement ceremonies just to catch the dance by the young women and men who form part of the bridal party.
Also commenting on the Best Bridal Dance in Africa/Malawi wedding video on YouTube, JoStylin noted: “This seems to be a very common southern African dance; I see it in lots of South African, Zimbabwean, Malawi and Botswana wedding videos, not very common in West African, what is the name of this type of dancing?”
Marley Deshawn Lesly noted that Malawians on the video clip were dancing a mix of ndombolo and kuduro.
He said: “Ndombolo is from the Congo and it is very popular in Central Africa, both Congo, Central African Republic and Cameroon and kuduro is from Angola.”
Benedict Sam, the creative director of Bensam Entertainment, who directed the Best Bridal Dance in Africa/Malawi video, said there has been a tremendous change of dance in most weddings since 2013 in Malawi. And he described this as a positive development, saying it has helped to amplify the quality of wedding videos.
“You cannot compare wedding videos today to those that were made before 2000 because the modern videos are entertaining. The dance routines and costumes by the modern day bridal parties are adding colour to the weddings,” said Sam.
Commenting on the fears that the modern dance of the bridal parties in most weddings are eroding culture, he said:
“Which culture do we fear to be eroded now? Are those boring wedding videos help to sustain culture? How? I am not dismissing the fact that we must keep our culture alive, but on the other hand we must also be aware that things are changing and we have to move with time. Otherwise, too much obsession with the so-called cultural values will take us nowhere.”
While concurring with Sam that the modern dance routines have added colour to the weddings, another videographer Chippie Khonje from Blantyre said the biggest turn off is when half dressed young girls are used.
“I mean, they really don’t have to be naked for the dance to look good. The beauty of the display is in uniformity of dress code and choreography,” said Khonje.