Azonto is a global phenomenon which started as an improv dance and music genre in the coastal parts of Ghana. It spread from Tema to Chorkor and Jamestown and beyond, moving upwards from the coast. Ghanaians, their neighbours and the global community still perform the catchy twists and fun body contortions. Here’s where to learn more.
Ghana’s music and dance are almost never separate. Both run parallel on the smooth rollercoaster of varied genres from traditional rhythms, to jazz and afrobeat, from hiplife and hip hop to electronic soul, and from house to pidgin rock. Azonto fever hit suburbs of Greater Accra, especially Tema and Jamestown around the year 2010, and the dance quickly rose to global fame when it gripped diasporan communities in the USA and in the UK around 2012. DJs, musicians, dancers and enthusiasts around the world travelled to the West African country either to learn the dance, watch it performed live, or simply to document it.
Where to learn more
Accra Azonto action
In Accra, the exodus of Ghanaian musicians in the 1970s to escape the collapse of the entertainment scene and coup d’etats enabled curfews, reduced the number of spaces open for dance and partying. Unlike the sad past, today there are numerous friendly Azonto-loving night spots and clubs where you can practise your flexible limb movements.
Champs Sports Bar and Grill
Bar, Cocktail Bar, Pub, Wine Bar, American, Vegetarian, European, Contemporary, Salad Bar, $$$
Champs Sports Bar and Grill | © Champs Sports Bar and Grill
Champs is one of Accra’s favourite bars that organizes a wide range of events spread across the days of the week, including Quiz Night, Sports and Social Night, Kebab and Pool Night, Karaoke Night and Live Music Night. Their bar serves alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails, salads, burgers and tacos, as well as vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.
Nhyiraba Kojo City Night Club
Dance Jam at Nhyiraba Kojo City | © Nhyiraba Kojo
Opposite the popular Paloma Hotel in Spintex is where one can find the popular celebrity night club operated and managed by Nhyiraba Kojo City. The club which used to be called Pool bar has been renovated and upgraded to the plush dance and VIP space aside a pool table room with a standard size bar with classy, good music and friendly customer service.
The Azonto dance involves knee-bending, throwing of hands in all directions and rigorous hip movements. | © Stephen Belcher / Flickr
Careen casually on the Cape Coast
Looking for a short vacation from Accra to practice those Azonto moves? The Cape Coast is where your inner Michael Jackson might pop up. You might also experience Patapaa’s One Corner, a song which was interpreted into a dance in Swedru, also in the Central Region, which isn’t far removed from Azonto fever. Every dancer makes space for themselves and owns it on the dancefloor – in a similar fashion, Azonto gets you peaking in that mood as well.
Oasis Beach Resort
Bar, African, Kebab, BBQ, Street Food, $$$
Oasis is where you can plant your feet in the Cape Coast beachfront sands and enjoy live music blasting from the colonial Ghanaian coastal centre, where the state of the art restaurant serving international cuisine comes with a cocktail bar. Their nightclub is one to keep you on your feet, especially during their memorable weekend parties. Their huts offer shade for backpackers, while energetic drummers, dancers and acrobats add to a vibrant atmosphere.
Whirl in the west side
Azonto is about elasticity, dynamism, and just being ready to let your inner child have a fun time. In the Western Region, the annual Kundum Festival and the beautiful safe beaches might be popular, but there are also many places where the vibe will get you up on your feet.
Paragon Bar and Grill
Music Venue, none
Paragon Bar and Grill | © Paragon Mgmt
Paragon Bar and Grill is where you meet party lovers drawn in from the Ivory Coast border, parts of the Central region, the large twin city of Sekondi-Takoradi, coastal Axim, contours of Elubo and even Ghana’s southernmost location, Cape Three Point. This exquisite bar and grill serves exotic drinks and great meals all night. It is located in the centre of Takoradi and is a good place to dance your heart out.
Up north, turn it up
Azonto might have originated from the cool sands of sea shore activity where Ga folk music meets high-pitched steel gong mashups, but the northern fun places of Ghana are also great places to check out the genre. Giddipass, located on a rooftop terrace, gives you a beautiful view over Tamale, as well as serving up ice-cold drinks and a reason to dance.
Dance moves run in the blood of West Africans, but when you put the party at an airy rooftop, the game gets switched to up tempo and more so super energetic fun. Giddipass rooftop terrace bar is that ultra funky place serving jugs with cold beers and Northern accent liquors while complimenting the dance floor with super DJs that keep you voiceles.
Boogie in Brong
It’s not only during the week-long Kwafie festival celebration held in November and December, bringing together the chiefs and people of the Dormaa, Berekum and Nsoatre traditional areas, that the Brong Ahafo Region gets to boogie. Whenever you’re in the Sunyani Municipality or Brong Ahafo, be sure to check out Tyco Night Club.
Tyco Night Club
Fitness Studio, Music Venue, Pop-up Store, Swimming Pool, Health Spa
Tyco is Sunyani Municipality’s luxury and recreation treasure. As well as being one of the biggest nightclubs in Ghana, it also has presidential rooms and deluxe suites, comfortably lit dining, an executive restaurant, a city lounge, a cocktail bar, a space for meetings and a standard auditorium, as well as a large swimming pool and fitness center plus spa.
Be artsy in Ashanti
Kumasi, the capital of Ashanti, is one of the biggest if not the bigggest in terms of dance-loving spaces in Ghana. The locals are all about building self-esteem, respect for jiving, independence to rock, and physical fitness for throwing some shapes on their wide and vibrant dance floors.
Ki-Vis Night Club
If you’re looking for a fun place to go at night or to listen to some great music, the vibrant nightlife scene of Kumasi is certainly captivating. Kivis, formerly called Kiravi, comes with vibrant dancefloors and the best DJs Kumasi has to offer.