They say music started with the drum, and it did so on Wednesday night at The Living Room in Taipei when the drumming group AAKZB from Burkina Faso took to the stage and gave a performance that had people shaking their butts and standing on their heads. Literally.
After a rousing introductory set, Atelier Artistique Kaam-Zoug-Bangre turned up the heat with a second-half performance that began with some yelps and quiet drumming. Another performer started hollering and more drums joined the fray. The percussive elements fused into one, growing louder, faster, reaching a crescendo, then breaking down to start again.
Dancers took turns taking center stage. One shook his leg and the rhythm progressively moved up his body, to his butt and hips and belly and chest. Before long he was writhing around to the music, eyes rolling and mouth hanging open, in a trancelike state. Finally, he took a break and another performer took over.
The audience was invited to strut its stuff and one inspired Taiwanese also took his top off, gyrated in an authentic fashion and then danced on his head. It was powerful song and dance and as far removed from the civilized veneer of Mandarin pop music as you can get.
The group entertains three times a week at an entertainment park in Wulai, reportedly for as little as NT$1,000 a month each, plus board -- which is mitigated slightly by the fact that this is really good money back home in Burkina Faso. Channel A, led by Hongjohn Lin (林宏璋) and Ella Raidel, has stepped in and provided some gigs for the group during the off-season and that's how they ended up at The Living Room.
They can also be experienced today and tonight at two workshops of African dance and drums at Taipei Artist Village (國際藝術村), starting 3pm and 8pm: 7 Beiping E Rd, Taipei (台北市北平東路7號). Also, 8pm tomorrow at Maintrend Gallery (大趨勢畫廊), 209-2 Chengde Rd, Sec 3, Taipei (台北市承德路3段209-2號).