I've always thought that there are some genres of music that you can't fully appreciate if you can't dance, or if you don't have at least a modicum of rhythm. Dancehall and soca songs, for instance, are all about the body. Often, tracks are created specifically with movement in mind — how bass and beats can prompt physical reactions, how experiencing that bass and those beats in close proximity with other people's bodies can prompt different, but equally physical, ones. That applies to much contemporary African music — including the growing, nebulous genre of afropop — too. From Congo to Côte d'Ivoire, uptempo rhythms and jubilant energy drive the biggest musical trends. And, in recent years, afropop has spread outwards from the continent on the strength of viral dance crazes, like the Azonto and the Alkayida.
Scrolling through the Instagram account of Denatora, a Parisian dancer with a growing social media following, was confirmation of just that. From ndombolo to coupé décalé to freestyled afrotrap choreography, Denatora, formerly of the group Shakalewa, posts dance videos that make old songs feel new, and obscure ones feel pertinent. In one of my favorite clips, he's dressed like a roadman in a Nike tracksuit, and fucks it up with sharp, angular moves to a track by Ivorian singer Serge Beynaud. In another, one of a handful of couples' dances, he recruits a partner for a smooth take on Banky W's "Gidi Love." In all, he makes me feel like there's no way I could possibly squeeze as much enjoyment out of music as he does.