As I am doing my PERSONAL A – Z on South Africa, this post on the letter “L’ is about as personal as I can get…..I am not sure that my friends know this or even my family. Admitting that I occasionally enjoy doing “langarm” to the sounds of “Loslappies” could just see my reputation going down the tubes….
But then, just looking at my headline again makes me smile, because there is nothing, or at least nothing to me, more South African, than doing the “langarm”, especially, to the sounds of “Loslappies”.
For those not acquainted with these Afrikaans words, let me give you a brief background and explanation.
Langarm is a kind of ballroom dancing but without the fancy stuff. Amongst others, it is also called sakkie-sakkie. Langarm means “long arm” which is exactly what the dancing is about. The guy holds out his one hand, arm extended and the girl puts her hand into his, arm extended, just like ballroom.
Sakkie-sakkie, I think refers to that arm. Sakkie meaning “push down” so the arms go up and down as you dance. Actually, I believe that if the man pushes your arm up and down too hard and fast, it is considered very bad dancing and you are told that you are “pumping water”.
Langarm started way back in the 1930’s or so when dances were held in church halls or the local municipality hall (when we still had those…), the ladies dressed up and the men wore
suits… these days langarm is still very popular. In fact, most of the cities and definitely in the smaller towns, you will be able to locate a Club where you can attend a weekly “Langarm Dans”. These days, things are more casual, you can even bring your drinks to some of the venues, there could be a braai (barbecue) and of course music.
South African Afrikaans music is usually (but not always) played but anything goes from modern music, jazz and hip-hop to country music. The dance moves are still the basic quickstep or fox trot and when you really get going, the rumba and Cha-cha… There are no exact rules, as long as that arm is out there and you are moving to the music, you will have a ball and a pretty good exercise workout at the same time.
An old song which has been revitalized by a local singer, Kurt Darren is “Loslappies”. If you have not heard this before, click onto the YouTube below to take a listen. If you do know it, click on it anyway, it will put a smile on your face and make your day!
It has a fantastic beat, and even if you don’t understand the language, it does not matter; it still gets those toes tapping. I was at a rather sophisticated party the other night and was amazed when the band was asked to play “loslappes”. One minute we were dancing to the latest hits, the next, out belted Loslappies and EVERYONE jumped onto the dance floor.
Translation? Los means “loose” and lappies means “a small cloth or rags” – there are a couple of different explanations as to what the song is actually about. One explanation is that it is about a girl with loose morals, others say it’s about a guy who is a bit of a loose canyon and others say it originated as a prison song.
Does it really matter? Doing the LANGARM to LOSLAPPIES is a great way to LAUGH, LIGHTEN UP AND LET GO.
Anyone for some Langarm?
PS To read more of my earlier Personal A – Z posts on South Africa, click HERE