April 12th, 2011

Lambada Is a Feeling

I’m happy to report, just in time to soundtrack that new spring in your step, that I’ve cooked up a new mini-(mega)-mix! This one follows the circulation and permutation of a song I’ve tracked here before, “Llorando Se Fue” — better known to the world as “Lambada.”

You can get some sense of the history here, but that Wikipedia page only scratches the surface (for now; here’s hoping this bit of mixxage can help aid expansion). I’ve been hearing the tune turn up in some unexpected places over the years — in hardcore dancehall reggae, for instance, which despite a certain capaciousness still surprises with what seem to be far-flung borrowings. As with similar projects, I’ve grown fascinated by the way such a spreadable song can draw attention to the inflections of individual interpreters as well as the very conventions that give genres their ability to uniquely address an audience.

What I’ve put together here is hardly comprehensive, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. For one, 15+ renditions is already pushing the limits of monotony, I suspect, despite the subtle twists and turns the tune takes in new settings; moreover, it would be quite impossible to catalog the song in full, especially given how it continues to spread. (I’m sure that J Lo’s global imperial club version will inspire many more.)

So, like Nguzunguzu’s magisterial Moments in Love, which I think of as offering another bit of inspiration for this effort, Moments in Lambada is simply an attempt to give a sense of the shape-shifting the tune undergoes. Who knows? Perhaps someday there will be a part two. (Feel free to bring to my attn any versions that seem conspicuously absent; only learned this morning that I left out a new Don Omar take!)

Whirling together a world of Lambadas is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, but the impetus finally came in the form of an invitation to contribute to a new online magazine devoted to creative engagements with contemporary music and arts, Cluster Mag, edited & published by an enterprising dance-theory maven from here in Massachusetts, our own Max Pearl.

Go check out the post to grab the mix and scan the tracklist — and don’t miss my little write-up, which concludes thusly:

Over the course of the mix, we dip into forró, UK funky, dancehall, reggaeton, lambahton, lambow, norteña, global guettatech, panpipe pop, and other club-ready confections that may or may not have real or invented genre tags, with some delightful, surprisingly recurrent nods to vintage house. Palimpsests push their way through the texture, as when J Lo seems to retrace phonemes from “Llorando Se Fue” before singing along with Vakero’s everyman adaptation (“la la la la la”). Her zigzag jetset cartography in “On the Floor” could as easily be following the circulation of “Lambada” — Brazil, Morocco, London to Ibiza, straight to LA, New York, Vegas to Africa — but the earthy sentiments that Vakero expresses in a local tongue — “vamo a beber, vamo a joder” — are just as global.

Finally, after giving a listen, I challenge you to dispel the wriggly earworm embedded in this sweet song of a thousand dances, forbidden like fruit. Lambada is a feeling. Enjoy.


  • 1. vamanos  |  April 13th, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    It really is THE FORBIDDEN DANCE.


  • 2. RRSalceda  |  April 13th, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Can I mention I have a Lambada award? That I got at my old Catholic school in the early 90s? That’s a big thing that nuns borrachas de fascismo in Spain would host a lambada competition!!That would not happen now. I played the dude, my friend did something last minute to her immaculate white panties to show her generous bootie. Of course we won! Una cosita: baile altamente recomendado entre ejecutivos agresivos, politicos anaftalinados y demas gallifantes de corbata prieta, entre ellos vamos…habria que verlo.

  • 3. wayneandwax  |  April 13th, 2011 at 4:35 pm


  • 4. vamanos  |  April 13th, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Nuns eh.

  • 5. RRSalceda  |  April 13th, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    Never underestimate a habit.

  • 6. wayneandwax  |  April 14th, 2011 at 9:21 am

    jerkin is a habit

  • 7. wayneandwax  |  April 14th, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Well, the glaring omissions are already rolling in.

    Among others, there’s this Bollywood version — leave it to Lahiri — (h/t DJ Empirical):

    And there’s a tribal costeñito version too! (via @laurorobles)

    And how’d I miss this one?

  • 8. Boebis  |  May 1st, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    You really might be interested in the really great article about lambada / llorando se fue, globalisation and identity.

    http://nuevomundo.revues.org/5644 (in spanish)
    http://nuevomundo.revues.org/2181#tocto1n1 (in french)

  • 9. Alex  |  May 3rd, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    The gif. is in perfect time with the mix.

  • 10. wayneandwax  |  May 3rd, 2011 at 2:51 pm


  • 11. Miles  |  August 24th, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    ice cream truck version

  • 12. wayneandwax  |  August 24th, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    wait, where?

    ok, i did turn this up easily enough —

  • 13. wayneandwax  |  December 12th, 2013 at 11:34 am

    and then there’s this, via Rio, y2k, c/o Furacao 2000:


I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com

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