From its roots in apartheid South Africa's gold mines to the stages of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, GUMBOOTS has shrugged off oppression with an upbeat, life-affirming energy. The List went to Soweto to catch the year's most infectious dance show.

Words: Neil Cooper

Give it some vvelly

THE DAY BEFORE I fly into Johannesburg. the inside-out South African city saw its first storm for six months. And a week before I arrive. the once outlawed African National Congress were returned to office via a landslide victory. Landslides and storms physical and metaphorical are nothing new in South Africa. Once upon a time it was a tale of two cities. split down the middle by apartheid. These days it‘s not so simple. The centre of Johannesburg is regarded as unsafe. with many whites moving out to the suburbs. After dark. the centre is a ghost town unless you make the mistake of straying a street too far. Then the idea of ghosts and chances becomes a whole lot more real.

Here too. though. another storm is brewing. For in a shabby downtown theatre surrounded. like every other street in the neighbourhood. by security guards. a dozen fit young men in wellies go through their paces in final home-town rehearsals for what looks set to be one of Edinburgh Fringe‘s sweatiest. most popular hits. For over an hour. these boys sing. dance and f

18 THE “81' 5—12 Aug 1999