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Top 10 Most Popular Folk Dances in the World

Published on 2 March, 2013 at 10:00 am By

There is certainly more to dance than its literal meaning. It is a source of enjoyment, a stress buster or simply, an exercise. When in the form of folk dance it also connects to the ethos of the land. Folk dances are about history; about traditions and exotic beauty of the land it is associated with.  Free from shackles of anything mundane and thus critically praised, here is a list of top 10 most popular folk dances in the world.

10. Milonga (Argentina):

Milonga is a dance which could be said to be a variation of the Tango; only the former being more relaxed. The roots of this dance go deep into the Argentinian folklore. It is a dance that resonates with Argentina, with Buenos Aires! Of course, it was earlier frowned upon by certain sophisticated sections of the Argentine society. But today, it is everywhere in the country – from clubs to streets.

Milonga - Popular Folk Dances

9. Gumboot Dance (South Africa):


Africa is a continent that is rich and diverse in many areas including dance. Gumboot is the dance that is performed by dancers wearing Wellingtons – a type of boot. This dance originated from the black miners and was their form of entertainment. The dance was formed when drumming was forbidden by the authorities, and hence the boots were used as the alternative. It is very popular today and, needless to say, highly energetic, too.

Gumboot Dance

8. Halay (Turkey):

Turkey, a country which is located at the cross roads of Europe and Asia, has a rich cultural heritage. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that as a culture it has inculcated elements from both continents and the same is also true for its dance. Halay is a folk dance hailing from Turkey’s eastern, South- Eastern and Central Anatolia regions. It is extremely popular and engaging dance of the country which is accompanied by equally rich music and instruments.

Halay - Popular Folk Dances

7. Baladi (Egypt):

It is a form of belly dancing. Belly dancing has various streams – from classical to cabaret. But Baladi is typically a style that evolved from the tribal areas of the country and hence very much a traditional dance. One need not enunciate the charm of any form of belly dancing, for it has a certain mystical and romantic allure. Baladi is very popular in Egypt.


6. Garba (India):

India is a land with an immensely rich culture. It has hundreds of folk dances with Garba being one of them. Garba is a Gujarati folk dance which is performed predominantly during the festival of Navaratri. It is a dance which perhaps is loved not only by the Gujarati society but also the rest of the country.

Garba - Popular Folk Dances

5. Irish step dance (Ireland):

Irish step dance evolved from traditional Irish dance and is today quite popular around the world. The dance can be performed wearing either of the two kinds of shoes – hard or soft.  The best part is that it can be danced solo or in groups. Such is the popularity of this dance form that several competitions are held in its name. It is dance performed during celebrations and carnivals and involves quick and intricate foot work.

Irish step dance

4. Bhangra (India):

Perhaps it is the most popular folk dance from India which has extended its reach all around the world due to wide-reaching Punjabi Diaspora. It is a harvest dance with its roots in Punjab – the North-western region of India. In countries like Canada, UK, USA and even Australia, the migrant Punjabi population has made Bhangra immensely popular. Its reputation is such that it has also been used in fitness routines.

Bhangra - Popular Folk Dances

3 Tarantella (Italy):


Around the 16th century in Taranto, Italy, people broke into a dance to ward off death from the highly poisonous bite of a Tarantula spider. They would dance in a frantic and hysterical fashion to fast music, and this is what later came to be known as Tarantella. Today, it is one of the most popular folk dances in southern Italy and also the world. With its hypnotic music set at a high tempo, Tarantella is also used for therapeutic purposes.


2. Casino (Cuba):

Casino is the Cuban style Salsa which has actually achieved great popularity in many pockets of the world. Be it the US, Latin America or Europe, Casino is held in great esteem. For the Cubans, Casino is more than just a dance; it is a part of their tradition and social life. The grooves, the steps and the music make this an entertaining dance and one that has been adapted in various other countries, too. In fact, the Miami version is known as Miami-style Casino and is undoubtedly a favourite.

Casino - Popular Folk Dances


1. Samba (Brazil):


Yes, it might sound as one of the toughest dances to excel at but for the Brazilians’, it’s all in a day’s work. Well, maybe not a day’s work but certainly a must during carnivals and celebrations. There are different variations of Samba based on regions but the basic steps are similar; what changes usually are the music and the movement of legs. It is a fun dance and perhaps that is why the dance is highly appreciated all around the world.



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