Do you know the trending funeral dancers carrying coffin ? Dancing Pallbearers, also known as Dancing Coffin and the Coffin Dance, are a Ghanaian group of pallbearers who are based in the coastal town of Prampram in the Greater Accra Region of southern Ghana, although they perform across the country as well as internationally. They are locally referred to as Nana Otafrija Pallbearing and Waiting Service or Dada awu
WHO I S THEIR LEADER OF FUNERAL DANCERS
From matching outfits to well-choreographed moves, they are hired to ensure befitting send-offs for the deceased.
In an interview with BBC, their leader Benjamin Aidoo said their performances are strictly guided by requests from their clients.
These pallbearers don’t mourn the dead instead they choreograph the funeral with music and color adding glamour with their songs and dance transforming the traditional ways in which the dead are mourned. According to Benjamin Aidoo the owner and leader of Nana Otafrija Pall-Bearing service a pioneer in the field he ventured into the activity in 2007 as a means of earning money to finance his high school education only to realize there was a gap he could fill if he was creative enough professionalization.
In what began as an experiment, it has picked up across the region as more people accepted the practice which is neither anchored in Christianity or African Traditional Society. Aidoo has successfully professionalize pall bearing with his Nana Otafrija troupe being an industry leader having invested heavily on attires, physical fitness, songs and dance choreography employing more than 100 youths. This has spurred emergence of multiple pall bearing troupes not only in Ghana but the entire West African region thus reducing the already ballooning youth unemployment in the region.
HISTORY OF FUNERAL DANCERS / pallbearers
If you happen to stumble upon these men dancing while carrying a coffin more often than usual—then congrats, you’ve spent way too much time on the internet. But, what’s supposed to be an online joke or a huge coronavirus meme on Tiktok actually bears a much more interesting history behind it.
According to KnowYourMeme, the popularity of this 5-seconder clip (wherein six African men can be seen grooving to Tony Igy’s Astronomia while executing synchronized and complex dance steps) started with these three videos. The first one was uploaded by Travelin Sister on YouTube in 2015 when she attended a funeral for her mother-in-law and witnessed this Ghanaian tradition firsthand. The video gained 4 million views.
The second video was uploaded by BBC in 2017—a short documentary explaining the roles of dancing pallbearers at Ghana funerals. Basically, the idea is to provide the deceased with a flamboyant and upbeat send-off instead of a solemn ceremony. Before proceeding with the performance, the pallbearers will still have to ask the bereaved family if they want to give their loved one a traditional funeral or a “dancing to trip” to heaven.
Two years later, Facebook user Bigscout Nana Prempeth uploaded the third video, wherein pallbearers accidentally dropped a coffin during the act. It gained over 2,900 reactions, 4,600 shares and 350,000 views in one year.
DANCING PALLBEARERS SONG COMBINATION
n April 2020, the group became the subject of a darkly comedic internet meme when videos of people suffering various mishaps, followed by clips of the pallbearers dancing with coffins (implicitly the victims of the preceding clips), were widely uploaded to YouTube and TikTok.The clips are generally paired up either with the song “Astronomia” by Russian musical artist Tony Igy and remixed by Dutch duo Vicetone or “You Know I’ll Go Get” by DJ Haning and Rizky Ayuba (a remixed version of Enrique Iglesia’s song “Finally Found You”). Many uses of this meme are commonly associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, which was ongoing when the meme became popular.
In Brazil, the social media meme was brought to the streets, as a billboard image featuring the coffin dancers was displayed with the caption ‘stay home or dance with us’.