Historically, the dance Pantsula was entertaining and was famous several decades ago in townships of South Africa, but it was more than just another dance. It was a spontaneous expression of the lives of young men and women in the townships that needed a way out of their misery.
The Pantsula became a very popular form of dance in the 1980s among young men and women in the townships of Africa. The dance was not only used for them to express themselves, but was also a way of life. It expressed their lives as a reflection of the violence of the township culture. The dance set them free from parental dominance and it gave them freedom without prejudice. It gained international recognition and became the pop music of the decade.
The Pantsula dance is described as a flat footed African tap-and-glide style of dance. The Zulu word "pantsula" means to "waddle like a duck or alternatively to walk with protruded buttocks," which is a characteristic of the dance.
Pantsula in the towns
Pantsula mainly represented the rebellious youths in the township, but it also consisted of a certain fashion (with dance and music. The tsotsis (thugs) in each township of South Africa were prideful of representing Pantsula in their culture. Since music equipment was extremely limited for these youths, the majority of the competitive spirits of Pantsula was revealed in the streets--who could dress the flashiest and who could perform the most creative dance of Pantsula. The description of the youth culture was therefore coded in specific dance steps that was almost always performed in the streets.
Modern South Africa
In today's South Africa, the Pantsula dance and its accompanying music (known as kwaito), has slowly migrated out of the townships and emerged in the commercial arena. Throughout the years Pantsula was being diluted by its commercialization. There are currently only some groups such as Via Katiehong that show the creativity, energy and rebellion that Pantsula brought during the 1980s.
Types of Pantsula
Pantsula dancing was similar to break dancing for the people in South Africa. They would dance using props, musical instruments such as large bass drums, and even dance theatrically as if they were putting on a Broadway show. Other types of Pantsula dances such as "Gumboots" wer used also. This dance consisted of the dancers wearing heavy boots that they could tap the floor with to make a special beat.