Ethiopian Shoulder Dance

Gonder, Ethiopia

While in Gonder, I ate at Four Sisters restaurants with my new friends, from Austin TX, ironically.  (Austin’s full of good people!)  All three of us were a little skeptical that it was a tourist trap, promising live Ethiopian music and dancing.

We drank tej, or honey wine, and ate traditional Ethiopian food while the employees demonstrated the Ethiopian shoulder dance. Thankfully I was a couple of tej’s in before they pulled me onto the floor and made me attempt the dance.  I failed miserably.

The Ethiopian shoulder dance (or the iskista, Lonely Planet tells me) involves only moving the shoulders, neck and head.  The shoulders shake quickly up and down, forward and back.  It’s mesmerizing.  And when they really start moving fast, it kind of looks like someone having a seizure while doing the chicken dance.

By the end of night, all the workers and all the patrons were dancing, clapping and laughing. Tourist trap or not, it was such a fun night!


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