Gum Boots | 2000
A celebration of dance and music rooted in South Africa's cultural and political heritage. Adapted for television from the South African stage show, "Gum Boots" explores the oppression of Apartheid, and how strong, creative hearts can prevail over cruelty.
Gumboot dancing developed in the country's gold mines during the height of the migrant labor system and the oppressive Apartheid Pass Laws. Below ground, the miners worked in flooded and darkened shafts. Standing in water up to their knees for hours, they were stricken with skin ulcers, aching feets and a host of maladies, all resulting in lost work time. Devising a solution that was cheaper than properly draining the mines, the mine bosses provided the workers with thick, waterproof gumboots (aka Wellingtons) to protect them from the water. Forbidden to speak and unable to see one anothetr in the gloom, the miners quickly developed a Morse code-like form of communication by slapping their boots and rattling their ankle chains. The miners developed this intricate percussion and these movements into a unique dance form, with which they entertained themselves during their rare periods of rest.