In Acholi, if you are a poor dancer, you are likely to die as a bachelor, or so it’s said. One of the distinct Acholi dance a potential suitor has to master is the Larakaraka dance.
Larakaraka used to primarily be a ceremonial courtship dance, performed during weddings. Only the best dancers would get partners, making the dancing competitive and exhaustive at the end. But the rewards of a attracting a partner are worth it for those who perfected the dancing strokes.
It is now performed at other social and ceremonial events, in addition to the weddings.
Larakaraka, also known as Lamokowang dance, shares some characteristics with the Akembe ceremonial dance from the Itesots, and it is similar to the Runyege courtship dance of the Batooro.
It has a vigorous rhythm and is accompanied by drumming pounded out on gourds struck with bicycle spokes to spice the sound. Rattles are tied on boys’ legs to produce enhance sounds and rhythms. Bare-chested men, dress in elaborate ostrich feathers on the head, rattles on the legs and leopard or gazelle skin around the waist.
Some sources say that Larakaraka was originally danced in the nude to expose any ill features on the body, so as to choose the best bodied partner.
Acholi dancing is a communal affair. The region has about nine different and distinct types of dance. The other dances include; bwola, lalobaloba, otiti, myel awal, apiti, aije, labongo, myel wanga and atira.
Acholi region is found in from Northern Uganda. It covers districts including; Agago, Amuru, Gulu, Kitgum, Nwoya, Lamwo, and Pader.