A History of Nigerian Dance Steps and Their Origins

A History of Nigerian Dance Steps and Their Origins

Right from the early 20s, different dance steps have come and gone in Nigerian pop culture. While some of these dance steps emerged from other countries, a majority of them originated in Nigeria and were made popular by our very own musicians. From Yahooze to Zanku, here are the several dance steps that have reigned in Nigeria since the 21st century began:



It can be safely said that Makossa was the first dance to emerge in the 2000s. This dance trend came through the Cameroonian sound that had gained prominence across the continent of Africa. Artistes like Awilo Longomba made it popular through his song Coupé Bibamba. Makossa, which means “Dance” in the Cameroonian language Doula, indeed had everyone dancing.


Galala can be best described as the first street dance that came up in the new millennium. It was born in Ajegunle, Lagos, and popularized by artists like Ras Kimono and Blacky. However, Daddy Showkey, later came on the scene, revolutionized the dance, and made it his signature dance move.

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Like Galala, Suo originated in Ajegunle and was made popular by Marvellous Benji. The duo of Mad Melon and Mountain Black made it even more sensational when they released their hit song “Danfo Driver”. At the time, it wasn’t just enough to dance to “Danfo Driver”, you actually had to squat while opening and closing your leg in a rhythmic manner. Indeed, Suo requires a lot of stamina.


With Olu Maintain’s 2008 hit came “Yahooze”. This slow and steady dance swept through Nigeria and beyond. It was so popular that the then UN Head of State, Collin Powell, danced it on his visit to Nigeria in 2008. The dance simply involves gesturing your fingers to heaven in a meek-like manner. This is what makes Yahooze stand out; it is simple yet elegant.


At first glance, Alanta may make an onlooker think the dancer is trying to scratch his/her body. This highly-expressive dance was brought to us by the group Artquake. They released the song Alanta in the early 2000s and it became popular alongside the dance that came with it.

If you were at the club and the song Alanta came up, all you had to do was “open your hand/arm like you wan fly away… Alanta Alanta one leg up!”


Etighi originated form the south-south region of Nigeria and was spearheaded by Iyanya with his hit “Kukere”. Everybody could dance Etighi because it is arguably the simplest dance on this list. It gave Azonto, another dance that emerged around the same time with it, a run for its money. And this brings us to Azonto!


Though Azonto came from Ghana, the dance blew up as soon as Wizkid released his hit song of the same name. Azonto is one of the most versatile dance steps yet very easy to learn.


Unfortunately, Alingo never became a truly sensational dance. It didn’t stand the true test of time and went as as fast as it came. Perhaps this is due to how complex the dance is. It involves you wiggling your body from up to down in an energetic manner. If you want to try this dance step in 2019, be  warned because it will break your back!


Skelewu became a trend when Davido released a song of the same name in 2013. This stylish dance is one of the easiest on the list as it requires you to rotate your hands like you’re driving and sway your shoulders. If you ask me, I think Davido came up with this dance step while he was driving.


Sekem came along not too long after Davido’s Skelewu and took the number one spot. With one hand on your waist, another on your chest and a slide with one leg from side to side, you could easily pull off Sekem.The dance trend was brought to us by MC Galaxy when he released his hit song also titled “Sekem”.


Shoki was born in the streets of Agege, the acclaimed “hub of dance” in Nigeria. It was one of the longest reigning dance steps, lasting for about three years. The dance found its way to mainstream media through former YBNL member Lil Kesh. Shoki, which is the Yoruba slang word for “Quickie”, requires you to stoop low like you want pick something from the floor, rise up and cover one of your eyes with one hand. Shoki is a highly expressive dance.

Shaku Shaku

One of the more recent dance steps on this list, Shaku Shaku is another dance that was born in Agege. It became popular in 2016 with the emergence of artists like Idowest and Slimcase. The dance has also been associated with the Shaku Shaku sound which came with songs like Legbegbe and Shepeteri. This dance step literally had people watching video tutorials on Youtube to learn it proving how big it was when it came out.


Currently the hottest dance in town, Zanku stole the show from Shaku Shaku in 2018. It was introduced by rapper Zlatan Ibile and actually stands for “Zlatan Abeg No Kill Us”. Zanku is a combination of many things from Karate moves to meticulous movements with your legs. Zanku was popularised through songs like Able God and Killing Dem which both feature Zlatan.

Do you agree with our list? Did we leave any dance step out? Let us know in the comment section below.


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