How To Samba Like A Brazilian

Do you know how to samba?

Back in 2012 when I was living in Rio, I used to do a language exchange with this older, black woman every Sunday.

It was great because she spoke English pretty well; when I quit trying to speak in Portuguese, she would just switch to English until I got enough energy to continue on.

Anyways, we were talking about carnival one Sunday morning when I asked her if she could samba. There’s a common stereotype that all black people have rhythm and can dance.

I admit, I thought she was going to say absolutely and start two stepping in the library. Instead, she blushed and confessed that she couldn’t samba to save her life. In her own words, “Eu não tenho coordenação motora“, which means she has two left feet. I thought it was funny.


My friend in Rio is not alone. I’ve tried to samba for the past two years, but I can’t seem to catch the beat. It looks rather simple until you realize it’s not just a basic two-step with your legs.

To samba like a Brazilian you have to wiggle; or should I say move your hips. You step your left foot in front of your right then put your right foot over your left then bring your right foot back while your left foot takes a step to the left. Easy right?

Alright so you would look foolish if you did what I just described, but technically you would  be doing the samba like a Brazilian: my friend without coordenação motora.

Oh, and one more thing. You must scat the samba noises to make the dance official. Ziriguidum isn’t a real word, but its mandatory to say when you samba.

To really dance samba like a Brazilian, check out this video of Brazilian women sambando like there’s no tomorrow. The men’s version has a slower tempo.