Music Trekking: Limbo!

Looking For Some Summertime Fun? Do The Limbo!

Every so often there’s a dance or a game that is so much fun that it captures the imagination of people all over the globe.  Take a look at these limbo pictures from the USA, Greece and Israel:

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Wondering where the limbo began? Actually, it started with a something that was very sad. The limbo originated with slaves that were brought to the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. The men and women that were slaves were kept in different quarters deep inside the ship. In order to get over to see each another, the slaves needed to cross under very low spaces. Originally the limbo was done as a solemn and slow dance or ritual, sometimes as part of wakes or funerals. However, sometime after the 1950’s and 1960’s, calypso music became very popular and the limbo became better known as a dance done with colorful clothing and upbeat, happy music. That happier, more joyous limbo celebration became the dance that has made it’s way all around the planet.

So how do you play? The basic rules are simple. Two players hold a horizontal stick and a line of dancers or players try to make it underneath. Each time the group finishes passing underneath, the bar lowers just a bit. Technically, players are supposed to bend backward and are not allowed to touch either the pole with their body or the ground with their hands. But if you’re playing with kids – you can change the rules to make it work for the age or ability level of those involved. And of course, put on some fun music, preferably something that transports you straight to a sunny Caribbean isle.

If you want to get creative musically, you can also assemble a host of metal buckets, trash can lids, hub caps and frying pans and start a version of a steel pan or steel drum band. It’s a great way of blending dance and games with creating rhythms, music and song.

A few years ago I recorded a limbo song and have since received photos, videos and e-mails from all around the world that attest to the popularity of this really cool activity that can be played by almost anyone, practically anywhere. Check out my song and video here:

One of my favorite videos of this tradition is from Africa where a group of kids – many in wheelchairs – adapted the rules and played a fun version of the limbo in their schoolyard. They’ve answered that vital summertime question “How low can you go” – now, how about you?


Award-winning children’s performer, DARIA (Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou) has created 7 cd’s that have won national honors. She has the most awesome job of traveling the world to sing for kids and peace. Her “world music for kids” website,, was given a 2009 Parents Choice Award for its musical and cultural content.  She has also created a multicultural kids video site as well as My Favorite Multicultural Books.

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