The founder of a dance troupe in Ghana that has become world-famous for dancing with coffins at funerals said in an interview published Thursday his business caters to the idea that people prefer to say goodbye to their loved ones with joy.
When contacted by the Argentinian media outlet Infobae, John Telewa, a representative for the founder of Pallbearing Dancer Benjamin Aidoo, revealed the group had received dozens of interview requests since video of their performances became a global meme.
The pallbearers gained international recognition in 2017 when they were filmed doing flamboyant coffin-carrying dances at funerals. Yet since the rising number of deaths caused by the Chinese coronavirus, the meme has come back into fashion as families employ pallbearers to replicate the dance.
In the beginning, Aidoo and his team would wear black and white as a show of respect to the deceased. However, they later decided to lighten things up by designing garments of bright colors to perform in.
“We know that something very horrible is happening all over the world, but we are also proud that our videos help people to have a little fun,” Aidoo said in the interview. “When I was young I wanted to be a doctor. It was my dream, to take care of all my loved ones. But life took me to different places and I ended up working in funeral services. I would have never imagined it.”
“Initially, some members of my team and I worked in a more classic funeral procession service. Although funerals in our country always had a festive atmosphere, this was more solemn. Carry the coffin and little else,” he recalled. “Then one day we decided to make a change. We wanted to end all the solemnity of that ceremony and pay tribute to the cultural origin of our country. The coffin carrying dance was a way of celebrating this person’s life.”
In recent weeks, the footage has surged in popularity.
Last week, police in the Colombian city of Quibdó attempted to promote social distancing and other Chinese coronavirus safety measures by recreating the meme, carrying a coffin through the streets while moving to the rhythm of house music. As the procession took place, other officers instructed the public on how to wash their hands, while one officer holding a megaphone urged people to stay at home and respect the nationwide quarantine.