Blog November 3, 2023
Afropop Dance Party in Washington DC, November 2

We enjoyed a highly memorable, joyous evening on Thursday, November 2, in D.C. celebrating Afropop Worldwide’s 35th anniversary all animated by several members of Congolese singer Samba Mapangala’s band led by his ace lead guitarist Jaja Bashengezi. They started out playing sensuous slow rumba tunes during our opening reception hosted by Tim Bork. Following remarks by co-MC’s Juanita Britton and myself, we threw the dance floor open to the band doing more up-tempo, full on soukous dance songs, with lots of “sebene” action. Jaja wove his licks with his rhythm guitarist making for that unmistakable Congolese guitar interplay that had everyone in the room smiling and improvising their personal dance moves to the music.

Note that what we heard last night was only half the band that Samba Mapangala will bring to SOBs in NYC next Friday for the next iteration of our Afropop Dance Parties celebrating our 35th anniversary on public radio. Added will be a third guitarist and two additional singers to embody what makes Congolese music Congolese. And we can’t forget the dancers! Two women dancers will show the crowd fun fun fun dance moves.

Please tell your music-loving friends to join us Friday November 10th at SOBs: for a 9 ½ hour dance party (Doors at 6:30). To see a Samba Mapangala music video and for ticket information, go here:

A welcome addition to our Afropop Dance Party Thursday night was an exhibition of contemporary Congolese paintings by established and emerging artists. The art was made possible by Gallery Article 15 in Washington, the only gallery in the U.S. specializing in contemporary Congolese art. My favorite piece was a painting called “Vive La Rumba Congolaise” by Mike Fils. The work shows a pair of dance revelers in Kinshasa drinking Skol beer, a favorite local brew. Gallery Article 15 will grace SOBs next Friday with more art to admire and to buy.

So you now have a taste of coming attractions next Friday — seductive dance music, evocative art, and a crowd that knows how to have fun Afropop style. Be there!

A few images of the fun, from Banning Eyre...

Tim Bork and Sean Barlow
Tim Bork and Sean Barlow

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