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The Crack Magazine

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Book of the Month: Whites Can Dance Too by Kalaf Epalanga

Africa is made up of 54 countries, so the term “African music” is an obvious misnomer. The continent is home to a myriad of distinct musical genres, one of which is Kuduro which came out of Luanda – the capital of Angola – in the late 1980s and early 1990s. If you’ve not yet had the pleasure then you should know that Kuduro is pretty full-on, with producers marrying traditional carnival sounds such as soca with foot-to-the-floor techno beats. It has been championed by the likes of M.I.A and is particularly big in Lisbon, a city that has had a large influx of Angolan immigrants. The Lisbon-based dance collective Buraka Som Sistema are major players in Kuduro circles and count Kalaf Epalanga among their members. Epalanga is also a writer and this, his debut novel (translated by Daniel Hamn), is a love letter to the scene. The book is divided into three distinct sections. The first sees a musician – who is trying to reach a music festival – stopped at the Norwegian border because he doesn’t have the correct documentation. The second section concerns a courtship between a Lisbon based dance instructor and a visitor from Brazil. The third features one of the Norwegian border guards. The book’s strength lies in the case it makes for the power of music to both enthral and bind us, and as soon as I finished it, I dug out some sizzling hot Kuduro playlists and have been listening to them on repeat ever since. RM

Published by Faber

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