GUMBOOT DANCE- SOUTH AFRICA: Secret Communication Channel Of Native Miners


Gumboot dance is an African dance form performed using “Wellington gumboots”. This ‘boot’ dance originated in South Africa. It apparently was said to have been created by ‘native miners’. Furthermore, the boots (i.e. gumboots) used in this dance is adorned with a number of bells that create a sound as the performers stamp the ground while performing. This dance was mainly created by the miners as a tool to communicate with each other in complete secrecy.

History/origin of the gumboot dance:

This dance is said to have been created and developed by native miners in South Africa as a form of communication. It is said that the miners found it extremely difficult to communicate with each other without having been overheard by their bosses. And so to avoid this embarrassment of being overheard, the miners developed this dance form as a mode of secret communication.

Costumes used in the gumboot dance:

The costume worn by the performers (both men and women) in this dance form include jeans, a pair of gumboots, miner’s hat, and shakers/bells worn around the ankles that generate the sound.

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Music involved in the gumboot dance:

“Percussion instruments” are mainly used in this dance style and they include idiophones, autophones, and at times even objects that are commonly used in daily life.

Training availability and the technique involved in the gumboot dance:

In terms of technique, this dance style essentially comprises of imitation of steps/moves made by officers and guards working at a gold mine. In addition, this dance involves the performers stamping their feet while at the same time slapping their boots. As for training centres or schools, there are none available around the world since this “boot” dance is mainly popular in and around South Africa.

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