Angola is the birthplace of the dances kizomba and semba which are now popular all around the world. I have been fortunate enough to visit Luanda a few times, and I would recommend anyone who is interested in kizomba also try to visit Angola. Not only will you be able to dance with some of the best dancers in the world, it is also interesting to learn more about the culture of the country where the dance originated. Angolan people are incredibly friendly and welcoming and are sure to make your stay amazing. Aside from the dancing, there are opportunities to see live music, visit beautiful beaches, eat good food, see amazing scenery, and learn about the interesting culture.
There is not a lot of information online about where to dance kizomba in Luanda. When I first went there (August 2016), it took me a bit of time to learn about all the best places to dance, and to meet other dancers. I want to share my experiences of great places to dance there to hopefully motivate other people to visit!
By far the best kizomba and semba dancing, not only in Luanda, but in the world (in my opinion) is on Sunday evenings: “Kizomba na Rua” (it means kizomba on the street). If you really love kizomba and semba, this will probably be the best three hours of your life. Every Sunday evening from about 6 – 9 pm, people gather on the Marginal (ocean-front promenade) to dance. The best dancers from Luanda, including many teachers and kizomba champions usually show up. Everyone is very friendly and all newcomers will quickly be invited to dance. This event is free: the organizers just bring their laptop and a speaker and play amazing music. Kizomba na Rua is a great place to get to know some of the top dancers in Luanda, and ask what other events / parties are going on at the time. There is usually a free beginners class for the first hour of the event. If you are interested in taking kizomba classes, you can meet many teachers there who will be happy to invite you to their classes or schedule privates. Prepare to get sweaty and dance with other sweaty people. Usually vendors walk by selling homemade ice cream and other snacks, but if you want anything to drink better to bring it with you (and it is not easy to find a public bathroom nearby).
This event is magical: dancing outdoors, in between the ocean and the skyscrapers of Luanda, at sunset time. If you are planning a trip to Luanda, try to be there for as many Sundays as possible!
On Monday evenings there is live kizomba music at Cha de Caxinde. This event usually attracts an older crowd. It is amazing to see how these people dance: the music and dance is in their blood. There is a small cover charge (around 3000 kwanzas, but this could change) to enter the event, and they serve food and all types of drinks inside. There are tables and chairs set up around a dance floor. Many people go there in a group of friends, and will not necessarily invite others to dance. You may have more fun if you go with a dance partner or friend. The event starts at about 10pm.
Cha de Caxinde often has other dance / music / cultural events on the weekend, so check what is scheduled when you visit.
Wednesday evenings at Marginal Lounge is a salsa, kizomba, and bachata night. This party is a more “international style” where the DJ will rotate through approximately 4-5 salsa, 1-2 bachata, then 4-5 kizomba or semba. A lot of people who come here have learned to dance in a school and range in skill level from beginner to quite advanced. You can definitely come to this event without a partner, and will have fun dancing with everyone there. The salsa is a mix of Cuban, on1 and a couple people who dance on2. It is free to get in, and they serve food and drinks inside. They have a free salsa class around 8pm, and the social dancing starts after that.
A nice place to dance kizomba on Thursday is Caminito. This is an “afterwork” party, so people will start showing up around 6 or 7pm, and the party goes until 2am. This is in an actual night club, and most of the people who go there dress up quite nicely. There is a cover charge to enter (about 7000 kwanza) and they serve drinks and snacks inside. The DJ plays great kizomba music, and there are two dance floors with plenty of space to dance. If you want a table you should reserve in advance, but if you get there later and just dance / stand at the bar, then you don’t need the reservation. People often dance within their own groups of friends, but they will probably also invite you to dance.
FRIDAY AND SATURDAY
Jango Veleiro is a fun place to go on either Friday or Saturday night. They have a live band that plays kizomba music (covers of well known songs) from about 10pm- midnight. After that there is a DJ which mixes kizomba, Brazilian music, and other international and Angolan music. The location is amazing, on the entrance of Ilha right on the beach. You can even dip your feet in the water or swim if you want to cool off from the dancing. The entrance is free and they have food (a buffet) and drinks inside. You need to wear nice shoes and clothes, otherwise you may be declined entrance. If you can go with a group of friends, you will have the most fun, but if you go alone you can probably end up dancing with other people.
Another great weekend option is Casa da Musica. This place is located in Talatona, pretty far away from the city center (and all the other places I’ve mentioned). This is a beautiful and fancy night club with an expensive entry fee and mandatory consumption inside. You should reserve a table in advance. The DJ plays great music and there are good dancers from young to quite old. Since you have to reserve a table here, it is better if you go with a group of friends or at least a dance partner, although as the night goes on, people will mix more and invite others to dance. This party really only starts at 2am, so be prepared for a late night! Sometimes they have live music here, so you can check the schedule when you are visiting.
All of the places that I listed were running consistently when I was in Luanda in 2016, 2017, and 2018, as well as for many years before. They are the classic and well known places to dance, but there are always plenty of other parties and places popping up. Once you get to Luanda, ask around the dancers that you meet (especially on Sunday at Kizomba na Rua) to learn what is happening when you are there. The locals are very friendly and helpful to visitors and will invite you to all parties.
Many amazing Angolan singers have concerts in Luanda, so just keep your eyes open for signs posted around the city. If you go to a concert be prepared for crowds, chaos, and a very late start! If you have the opportunity to attend a house party or wedding, that is also a great place to dance, and understand how Angolans really dance kizomba at all occasions.
Overall, the experience of dancing kizomba and semba in Angola with Angolan dancers is amazing and probably incomparable to any other dancing experience. Angola is such an interesting country with a vibrant culture, once you are there you might not want to leave!