The Gwara Gwara she performed during the 2018 Grammys comes from a viral craze started by DJ Bongz
Do the stanky leg. pic.twitter.com/nDPJFmY1zb— Vulture (@vulture) January 29, 2018
Rihanna may have technically been the featured artist on DJ Khaled’s “Wild Thoughts”, but we all know that her presence carried the song and video – now she's done it again with her Grammys performance.
Aside from having perfect hair, wearing a dress that's reminiscent of Carmen (as subtle reference to Beyoncé’s first film perhaps?), and radiating the confidence that must come from knowing you’re at the top of your game, Rih also managed to use her performance to ignite a global conversation about South African dance. Some labeled her energetic routine as the "stanky leg"; others on Twitter immediately recognised it as the South African craze Gwara Gwara.
this is the gwara gwara, a dance from South Africa you uncultured swine 🙄 https://t.co/O8rh0zhiFi— Nne. (@nneomaluxe) January 29, 2018
Firstly, before you beat yourself up for not knowing the intricacies of South African viral dance trends, it isn’t so crazy to confuse the stanky leg with the Gwara Gwara, as the two are undoubtedly cousins. The stanky leg is a Texan dance made famous by the GS boyz when they released a song of the same name in 2008. The dipped legs paired with gyrating hips is something both moves share, as this homemade stanky leg routine from 2012 demonstrates:
However, the important distinction is that the stanky leg involves mostly, well, legs. Whereas, the Gwara Gwara incorporates a full body dip, and gets the arms involved too.
Many credit DJ Bongz as a pioneer of the dance. The electronic musician is hot on creating dance trends, like the Kuruza, via social media challenges. Usually, they start on his Instagram page with a hashtag which encourages young fans to copy the dance and share. Just over a year ago, it spread through South African schoolyards to nightlife, eventually grabbing the attention of African American artists.
In a terrible six-degrees-of-separation twist, one notable fan of DJ Bongz and his dance moves is notorious trash bag Chris Brown. Ahead of a South African tour date back in June 2016, Brown superimposed his face on the Gwara Gwara dance animation made by DJ Bongz, and even started a hashtag (#ChrisBrownGwaraGwara).
So that's how Rihanna's performance ignited an international feud between South Africa and Texas. Whichever dance you believe she was doing, I think we can all agree on one thing: she looked fucking perfect while doing it.