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Last Updated: Friday, 12 May 2006, 16:26 GMT 17:26 UK
Ivorians catch bird flu dance fever
By James Copnall
BBC News, Abidjan

DJ Lewis dancing
DJ Lewis says the dance will stop people being scared to eat chicken

In a nightclub in Ivory Coast's main city, Abidjan, DJ Lewis stretches his arms out either side of his body, bends his arms at the wrists, and begins trembling like a man possessed.

A man possessed? Three seconds later, the DJ and musician sets that impression straight, by clucking loudly in his best imitation of a dying chicken.

"It's like a chicken with Parkinson's disease trying to dance to hip-hop," said one onlooker.

Welcome to the latest craze in Ivory Coast's ever-inventive night life: the bird flu dance.

The deadly avian disease was discovered in Ivory Coast last week, and within days DJ Lewis had come up with the bird flu dance.

"I created the dance to bring happiness to the hearts of Africans, and to chase away fear, the fear of eating chicken" he told the BBC.

"If we kill all our chickens and poultry, our cousins in the village will become poor.

"So I created the bird flu dance to put joy back into our hearts."

Television

The dance, which requires firm muscles and quick movements, as well as a healthy lack of concern about looking ridiculous, has yet to catch on everywhere in Abidjan.

People doing the bird flu chicken dance in Abidjan
The dance is catching on - slowly

But the customers and waitresses in the large bar where DJ Lewis works are already fans, and there have been demonstrations of the new dance on Ivorian national television.

DJ Lewis is convinced his creation will become famous.

"People will have to dance it, they have no choice!

"I am telling people to dance it to chase away their fears, and eat more chicken."

It is not yet clear why a dance that commemorates the dying moments of a sick bird should encourage people to eat chicken, although health experts have been telling Ivorians all week that well-cooked chicken poses no health risks at all.

For the moment though, many people may be content just to watch the tortured convulsions of DJ Lewis as he performs the bird flu flop.


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