Limbo Lower Now


This week we’re looking back on our last three months of Caribbean music and culture, catching some of what we couldn’t bear to miss. For example, LIMBO originated in Trinidad in the 1950s and quickly became the world’s favorite gimmicky party dance. Dancers move around the room to Afro-Caribbean rhythms, leaning one by one in turn backward beneath a horizontal pole without touching it or the ground. The stick moves lower and lower until only one dancer who hasn’t touched it or the floor remains. But there’s more to the Limbo than just a fun game to play at the roller rink right before “all skate.” Says Wikipedia, “Consistent with certain African beliefs, the dance reflects the whole cycle of life….The dancers move under a pole that is gradually lowered from chest level, and they emerge on the other side, as their heads clear the pole, as in the triumph of life over death…This dance is also used as a funeral dance and may be related to the African legba or legua dance.” (Note: Very few funerals in the United States feature a limbo.)

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