Mhambi has been redeployed.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Behind the Boerewors curtain

"It's like rice in Japan, we will always be here...": Said a peroxide blond boy in a heavy Afrikaans but definitely camp accent.

Mhambi accompanied a long time gay friend to a screening of two documentaries at the UK National Film Theater about gay life in South Africa. Black Beulah's and Behind the Boerewors curtain.

Black Beulahs is a well crafted film and was interesting for what it was not showing. In its world black South African gay men don't really interact much with white ones, except events like the gay pride marches, which tend to be disproportionally white.

Considering the conservatism and prevailing discourse that being gay is a Western import this is not surprising. But the film never explores the antagonism towards being gay in the black community or the apartheid within the community. Still its an interesting insight into a world not often seen.

All the men in this movie are relatively wealthy and deals with the same issues as gay men the world over.

Behind the Boerewors curtain is a film about a minority in a minority in a minority in a minority. Not only are they gay, but they are white, and Afrikaans AND they like to to listen to Boeremusiek and lang-arm (a kind of close and paired dancing which we used to derisory call wind-surfing. See the dancing see the clip below).

Now my friend comes from a small Afrikaner town in the Northern province and is a rather accomplished lang-arm dancer. But he claims he and his fellow Afrikaans moffies would not be seen dead dancing lang-arm. He cringed embarrassed in his seat next to me, while people were spinning around each other on the screen.

Still the film provides evidence that there is allot of gay lang-arm dancing going on. It's a short flick, but it all revolves on the meaning of dancing in this particular way. And according to the dancers - both gay males and lesbians - the reason is that they are Afrikaans. It's an expression of who they are. Yes they say, others think that if we dance like this that we are racist.

In the end, they don't try to defend their gayness. They defend their Afrikaansness. They claim that being Afrikaans is so part of South Africa, it's like rice in Japan, it will never die out.

Here's a Youtube clip of lang-arm dancing. It seems the dancing has made it's way to London.

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Pierre de Vos said...

In Cape Town on the last Saturday of every month there is a so called "Gat Party" in Milnerton, where gay men and lesbians go to "langarm" to the sounds of a variety of music - anything from Sher and Madonna to Ge Korsten and Annelie Van Rooyen. People bring their own baskets with wine or brandy and sit at plastic tables while couples spin round and round. But beware of the man in the Hawain shirt and the hairy chest because he can persue one relentlessly! It is very different from the experience at the gay clubs in town and is well worth a visit!

Gareth Thomas Searle said...

Hectic music on that you tube clip.
genre: European Sakkie House
not for everyone.

Wessel said...

Pierre that's good to know. Will make sure to check out the Gat party next time I visit iKapa.

In the meantime for more langarm and toi-toi-ing, Annelie van Rooyen, mixed with cool tunes from the likes of The Knife - go to the Wedding DJ parties in Lang (Long) street Cape Town.

Gareth, yes its very dramatic Euro disko, and its just so not me. Pity, because now there is now some really cool Afrikaans electro talent.