Jongo | Brazil

Name in Original Language


Area Where Played



The manifestation is a rhythm originally from the African region of Congo and Angola. The most probable possibility is the one in which it came to Brazil when the country was still a Portuguese colony with the black people brought as slaves to the southeastern coffee farms. In order to calm the nerves down, the farmers used to allow their slaves to dance the Congo during the catholic’s celebrations.

Detailed Description

The Jongo is a mix of music and dances, always following the sounds of the drums. Connected with African religions, its beginning includes the drum’s blessing (considered sacred for being able to connect with the other world) and asking the permission of the olds spirits. In the beginning of the Jongo, people bless themselves by touching the leader of the drums.

During the dances, there are singers that improvise verses. These verses are often related to the way of living of the practitioners. Things as the daily work, the repression and the rebellion are commonly founded in the small phrases sang by the soloists and repeated by everyone. The soloists intercalate between themselves, creating a sort of dialogue.

The dance consists in a big circle where the couples take turns all over the night.


Two drums command the rhythm of the dance. The bass is called “Caxambu” or “Tambu” and the treble is “Candongueiro”.
The verses can be classified in some groups, such as opening (to start a Jongo dance), laudation (to greet the place, the owner of the house or a ancestor), appreciate (to amuse), demand (when a player challenges his rival, enchantment (to charm the opponent and show wisdom) and closing (to end the dance).
The dancers use daily clothes and are often barefooted. The Jongo is a circular dance and has a unique movement called “umbigada”, in which the couple approach and point their belly button between them. One couple at a time goes to the center of the circle spinning anticlockwise. Sometimes they approach and perform the “umbigada”. The continuity of the dance is given with the entrance of another couple in the circle asking permission to dance. The couples take turns until the sunrise in a dispute of strength, swing and agility.