Can you bend over backward and shimmy underneath a car without touching the ground? (No shame, neither can I!) The limbo is a vibrant dance that is rich with culture and meaning that lies hidden for many of us. Let’s expand our horizons and discover some new moves together as we watch the World Limbo Champion show us what it’s all about!

When you think of the limbo, your mind may automatically gravitate toward a popular game at children’s parties. When in fact, this dance symbolizes the circle of life in a colorful display that originated from a place that might surprise you! And, who better to teach us about the limbo than the very woman who set the bar? Do your stretches, my friends, we’re getting down low with the Limbo Queen!

Image: Shemika Charles shimmying under an SUV

Source: Barcroft TV

If you’ve ever tried dancing the limbo before, you are probably aware of how challenging it is! The aim of this unique dance is to walk under a horizontal pole, waist bent, with your back toward the ground. Oftentimes, this dance is proposed as a contest, and the participant who successfully shimmies lowest under the bar without touching the floor is crowned the winner!

But did you know that the limbo is the unofficial national dance of Trinidad and Tobago!? It is usually performed at wakes, symbolizing a soul’s transition from the world of the living into the afterlife. What a wonderful way to celebrate the life of your loved ones!

The popularity of the limbo spread across the world after making its appearance on the big screen. During the 1950s, musicians began experimenting with a clave rhythm, and even recorded songs made specifically for dancing the limbo! Most notably, “Limbo Rock” by Chubby Checker, has had people chanting “How low can you go?” at parties for over half a century! 1

‌Scooching and shimmying with the best!

Now, because this dance requires a more-than-fair amount of flexibility, it may not be the best choice of party games for Gramma. Professional limbo dancers have to start practicing at a young age and be able to contort their bodies into positions that are, well, otherworldly!

The bendy lady we are about to meet in this video by Great Big Story has reintroduced the limbo to people around the world! She has showcased her skills to modern audiences by appearing on the TV show America’s Got Talent, and even performed the limbo for adoring crowds on the Las Vegas strip! Get ready for a colorful presentation of culture, family pride, and mind-boggling flexibility from the Limbo Queen herself, Shemika Charles!

‌Don’t your joints ache just by watching her moves?! What an amazing human!

Great Big Story has an incredible video library filled with fascinating stories from around the world. Check out their YouTube channel to forget all about your back pain for a while! Keep up with the lovely Shemika by following her on Facebook and Instagram!

Bringing beauty to each stage of life

The limbo is a great example of how a sequence of steps can not only celebrate the life we live in currently, but how we can usher our cultural heritage into a legacy that lasts forever. What if we all adopted an idea like this to honor our loved ones? Perhaps it would make the mourning process a tiny bit more bearable? One thing is certain, by paying tribute to our roots and using our skills to share knowledge with the next generations, we ensure that our traditions continue on into the next life, and beyond!

Keep on dancing!

If you love to shake your thang and want to learn more about different dances of the world, give this circle of articles a twirl! And psssst, all of these articles look amazing on our mobile app!

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Keep dreaming and notice the beauty around you!

~ Renee

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  1. Wikipedia Contributors. “Limbo (Dance).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 28 May 2020, Accessed 11 June 2020.
  2. Great Big Story. “Reaching New Lows With the Queen of Limbo.” YouTube, 2020, Accessed 11 June 2020.

Renee Laroche-Rheaume

Outreach Coordinator

Renee is a graduate of FIDM, and has held jobs in several industries such as apparel manufacturing, retail, professional office work, and even hospitality! Her creative outlook, wide variety of experiences, and desire to notice the beauty around us make her a great addition to the EWC team!