Facts About Zouk that You Need to Know

Photo Credit: Seattle Times

Love zouk? If you love zouk and you'd like to dig deeper into the history of this dance style, this one's for you!

Zouk is an exuberant, lively dance style. The name itself translates to "festival" because of the dance style's distinct carnival rhythms and upbeat music. The term zouk also means "party" in French creole. While zouk has been in the social dance scenes for decades, there are many misconceptions about this dance style. Before packing your Latin dance shoes and getting the party started, let’s talk about zouk and its rich history:

Zouk music originated in the Caribbean

Zouk, the dance style, got its name from zouk, the musical movement pioneered by the French Antillean band Kassav in the Caribbean during the 80s. Zouk music has been around far longer. It traces its roots in 70s Martinique and Guadeloupe, the French-speaking Caribbean regions. Between the 70s and 80s, zouk music dominated the region, and the Kassav band began holding concerts in other countries. Pretty soon, other countries started dancing to the zouk music, imitating the Caribbean dance style until it became known as the zouk dance style.

Caribbean Zouk is all about the Belly Connection

As zouk became well-known outside of the Caribbean, the dance style itself has evolved. But the original dance step is performed with a distinct belly-to-belly connection. Dancing the zouk involves taking small steps with movements focused on the core. What makes zouk unique is that it’s purely a social dance style, not a performance dance yet; it has gained worldwide popularity, no doubt because of the catchy music and mesmerizing dance steps.

Caribbean Zouk and Brazilian Zouk 

As far as the Zouk dance style’s origins go, there is much conflicting information about its history. Some experts say the dance style was created in Brazil; others say it’s from the Caribbean. What we do know is that the Caribbean is the birthplace of zouk music. The blend of reggae, calypso, and African rhythms is very dominant in zouk music. And since the music is very lively, it’s called party music, after all, people danced to it. That’s basically how the Zouk dance style got its start. 

Brazilian zouk, on the other hand, is a more recent version of the Caribbean zouk. Everyone, even children, danced Caribbean Zouk. It’s very wholesome. On the other hand, Brazilian zouk is a romantic dance style. This dance style evolved from traditional zouk that’s danced at the clubs when the dance style started getting popular outside the Caribbean. Brazilian zouk is something you dance with your romantic partner, not your abuela. The dance movements are quite intimate; the body movements are limited to the upper body, particularly the pelvic region. 

Brazilian Zouk is all about Romance

Traditional Caribbean zouk is not a romantic dance unless you are intentionally dancing provocatively. Again, zouk involves movement in the hips, and if you’re not accustomed to this dance style, you might think it’s suggestive, but it’s really not. 

The movie The Forbidden Dance is one reason why Brazilian zouk is associated with sex. Brazilian zouk, the dance style performed at dance clubs, is romantic or flirtatious at the very least. No, you’re not grinding at each other on the dance floor; the flow is very intimate because there’s a lot of body waves, touching, and perhaps even locking in an embrace with your dance partner but never overly sexually suggestive unless done intentionally.

Zouk is not Kizomba

Zouk is a different dance style from Kizomba. The songs used to dance zouk and kizomba are very similar, so it’s easy to confuse one from the other. That’s because back in the 80s, when people at the clubs love freestyling, people danced the Kizomba to zouk music. But zouk is not the same as kizomba. Zouk came first, and the music inspired Kizomba. 

Zouk is a favorite in the social dance scene because of the lively music; you just can’t help but grab a partner and dance! And what better way to dance to zouk than to wear comfy shoes made specifically for dancing! We’ve got Latin dance shoes that will compliment any outfit; check out our website and shop now!

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