The Gumboot Dance can be traced to Apartheid. Mine owners forced migrant workers to work in flooded mines, where they were chained to their stations and prohibited from speaking with one another. Workers communicated using sounds they made with gum boots they were issued and the chains that confined them. The language they created became a popular dance in the 1970s with the end of Apartheid. Gumboot dance steps are still performed today.
Side to Side
To do the side-to-side step, bend over with your feet together, stomp with your left foot as you lift up your right foot to the side and slap the side of your right boot with your right hand. Stomp your right foot as you lift up your left foot, and slap the side of your boot with your left hand. Do this four times. It should sound like, "stomp-slap, stomp-slap, stomp-slap, stomp-slap."
Add a Clap
After stomping and slapping four times, stomp with your right foot then straighten your torso a little, your right foot still up and clap your hands together, then drop your right hand and slap the inside of your right boot near the heel and stomp with your right foot. Lift up your left foot as you stomp with your right, clap, drop your left hand to slap the inside of your left boot near the heel, and stomp with your left foot.
Add More Claps and Steps
Lift up your right knee and slap it with your right hand, clap your hands and drop your left hand to slap the inside of the boot near your heel. Stomp your right foot, lift your left knee and slap it with your left hand, clap your hands, then slap the inside of your boot near your heel with your left hand and stomp your right foot.
Add a Jump
After lifting each knee and slapping the inside of both boots, jump up and clap your hands behind your knees. Land, stomping with both feet, then repeat the jump.
Bring It up to Tempo then Add Some More
Keep practicing the above steps until you are able to do them at a faster pace. As you become more and more comfortable with the dance, you will be able to add your own variations.
Marjorie Gilbert is a freelance writer and published author. An avid researcher, Gilbert has created an Empire gown (circa 1795 to 1805) from scratch, including drafting the gown's patterns by hand.