SWAGG United Dance Crew is a Community Dance group, based in Atlantis near Cape Town, South Africa.
The group was founded by Elsalene Saligee in 2016. One of the main objectives is to keep young people off the streets, where the risk of gang violence can be fatal, and ensure that they finish High school.
Practices are held outdoors or at Elsalene's home and participation is free. For the last year and I half I have been working with SWAGG, using video, photography, fashion, and personal networks to create connections, and provide the tools to overcome economic fragility and distance. The initial goal for this fundraiser is to to enable the group to attain basic necessities for the coming year : a minibus for transporting the dancers, basic food and clothing and sufficient means in order to escape the extreme precarity added by Covid19.
Atlantis is a satellite town built in the 1980s; a product of South African apartheid, which legislated racism and racial segregation. Individuals and families classified as ‘coloured’ were forcibly removed to the periphery. Atlantis is situated 50 km or 2 hours by bus from the city centre. Under the apartheid government, distance was not only used as a means to separate race groups, but also a means to ensure that anyone who wasn’t classified as white, would expend vast amounts of time and energy moving to and from work, limiting capacity to organise and create community bodies. The result was the development of gang culture and drug dealing as replacements for normal family life and reliable income.
Gregg Smith, artist and filmmaker
Co-ordinator of Very Real Time