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What Kompa Means to Me

I developed a deep appreciation for Kompa music and dance at an early age. I can vividly remember my parents playing Kompa music all the time. It was played when my sister and I came home from school, it was played on Saturday mornings as we were cleaning the house, and it was played at family gatherings. While I loved Kompa music, I could not dance it to save my life.

For those who are not familiar with Kompa, let me school you on a few things. Kompa became popular in the 1950s and is the main genre of music for many Caribbean islands including Dominica and Haiti. It is a modern meringue with African roots, and a Haitian musician by the name of Nemours Jean-Baptiste has been coined the creator of Kompa. The reason why Kompa became so popular in the 1950s was that it had the ability to improvise and maintain rhythm steadily. The genre quickly gained popularity in neighboring islands and has influenced other types of Caribbean music since then.

Courtesy: Haitian News Today

Kompa is danced in pairs. Similar to ballroom dancing, it requires movement of the shoulders, hips and feet. When Kompa dancing, it is not unusual to see partners hold on to one another tightly and romantically. This is because this style of dancing is very sensual and requires partners to be in tune with their bodies and build a connection with their partner.

Last semester, I attended a few Kompa classes just to get a feel for the dance since I had never seriously danced Kompa before – I immediately fell in love. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was absolutely terrible in the beginning. I couldn’t move my hips large enough, my shoulders were terribly stiff, but I managed to move my feet pretty well. After two weeks of practice, I decided to attend four weeks of closed workshops and try out for the dance troupe known as DT. Although I didn’t make the team, I learned a lot about the dance and about myself.

I have always been a confident person but somehow, Kompa has given me an additional boost of confidence. It has made me much more comfortable with my body which was something I had been working on for a while. Kompa has completely taken me out of my comfort zone. Through Kompa, I have learned how to connect with people on a more romantic scale. It has also taught me how to be naturally and effortlessly sexy. I am truly grateful for Kompa music as well as Kompa dance. 

A senior attending Florida State. Double majoring in English and French. 
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