Gumboots

Gumboots is a style of rhythmic dance that began with groups of laborers working in gold mines in South Africa in the early 19th century.

Mineworkers were not allowed to express any part of their cultural identity while in servitude. They could not wear their traditional dress or speak their native language since the foremen were concerned that if these things were allowed, it would cause an uprising among the workers. The miners used the only tools they had to communicate and began creating a new rhythmic language by stamping their feet and slapping their rubber boots. They essentially used their bodies as musical instruments.

Eventually, these song-like dances evolved into a social activity. Some of the topics of the songs were about love, drinking, and of course, mean bosses. Gumboot dancing has become a popular part of the working class culture in urban South Africa. Today, dance troupes perform these dances, both repeating traditional choreography and creating new routines, all over the world as a way of passing on South African history and tradition.