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Latvia is overwhelmed by African dance fever. How does a psychotherapist explain this phenomenon?

In the clip produced by “Master KG”, the song is performed by the singer Nomcebo Zikode, who is popular in South Africa. Since the official premiere on December 13, 2019, the clip “YouTube” has been viewed more than 170 million times. And you are not only watching it – the #JerusalemaDanceChallenge challenge has also started in Latvia.

Another dance plague?

The idea is quite simple. People from different organizations, companies and even cities come together to dance the previously learned steps to the accompaniment of “Jerusalem”. The performance is filmed and the assembled videos are posted by the organizers on social networks, passing the challenge on.

Meanwhile, historical sources contain information about an incident in July 1518 in the former capital of the Alsace region, now the French city of Strasbourg.

Both local doctors and clergy and chroniclers described a woman’s uncontrollable dancing fever. The lady suddenly started bending in the dance and did it for so long and persistently that she was joined by other, mostly younger ladies.

It lasted for days, gathering from 50 to 400 people. Seeing what was happening, the Strasbourg magistrate and bishop intervened, and the dancers were even taken to hospitals. In total, at least seven similar events from the 14th to the 17th century are known in Alsace. Over the years, both dark forces and – nowadays – stress-induced mass psychosis have been blamed.

About 400 dancers in Dobele

Maybe the stress of the pandemic is to blame now? Although the activity is spreading, in the language of the age of social networks, virally, this cannot be called the mystical dancing fever that once befell 16th century Europeans. It is believed that it was started for advertising purposes by the songwriter himself and was first moved by African dancers from Angola.

Dobele has already danced in Latvia, where local fitness coach, owner of the sports club “Gold Barbell” Ivars Cīrulis gathered about 400 people. Jelgava also stood out with a number of high-quality videos and dancers, which were followed and will certainly be followed by other municipalities. At Riga Airport, 70 employees danced it, challenging airBaltic.

The company’s involvement can be seen as a marketing-driven connection to another Internet fashion thing, but the motivation of so many people to spend time and energy requires explanation.

Compensation after self – insulation

Inese Ločmele, a psychotherapist of stature, the founder and teacher of the dance and personality culture center “I-DANCE HOUSE”, has a versatile opinion.

“Probably the first thing to mention is the songwriter’s own successful move, perhaps his fortune in releasing just such a song at this time. But otherwise, after months of feeling restricted in the pandemic, I think such a voluntary and motivated physical get-together is can be seen as compensation for isolation, most of which were practiced for health reasons, “says the psychotherapist,

“I think that in a way the simplicity of this dance also attracts. The simple in this sense will always be more attractive to the public than the complex. In my experience, I can also say that charismatic organizers and appropriate weather are always good for such events.”

A competition in which everyone wins

Ločmele also states that challenges in the dance world always mean more, not a serious competition with the winner and loser, but a binding way to get together and get the most out of it, while also maintaining a certain spirit of competition.

In his particular dance, he does not see a serious connection with African ritual dances – the steps danced to the accompaniment of “Jerusalem” are too simple.

“This is something that is popular now, but tomorrow will be forgotten, and something new will come in. If you look at the dance itself, then if we look carefully, we can understand that the steps of Jerusalem dance dictate that only the lower body moves. It shows a grounded, physically and morally strong dance, “adds Ločmele.

Heaven will be better …

Facebook user Dainis Briedis from Ventspils has come up with his explanation. He points out that he has once lived in Africa for quite some time and from contact with the locals knowing full well that for Africans, dance is not simply a dance in our understanding, but a religious ritual with a magical context.

“An important part of the religious beliefs that are included in the ritual content is the inclusion of the world of the dead in real life. The music of the mentioned dance is also based on the song of an ancient South African funeral ceremony. Should we Latvians challenge Fate and subject ourselves to African ritual dances? which implements the meaning even without understanding … And in which several times it is chanted: “Do not leave me here! My place isn’t here … “?” approaching lingerie, Dainis asks.

“Master KG” itself confirms that the words have a slightly religious orientation, but the composition is basically based on typical dance music traditions. In South Africa, “Jerusalem” belongs to the “Limpopo house” genre – fast-paced dance music, which originates in the province of Limpopo in northern South Africa.

What “Jerusalem” sings about

Jerusalem is my home

Protect me

Come with me

Don’t leave me here

My place is not here

My kingdom is not here

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