Beat-driven music and social dance was central in the evolutionary process of Homo Sapiens, both in terms of biology and sociology. Biologically speaking, bipedalism, or the ability to walk upright, is only possible with cognitive processes such as “beat induction,” the ability to anticipate the next beat as part of a syncopated pattern. Rhythm in Africa and elsewhere is built around this basic principle: the placement of some of the beats in the rhythm off the grid, a little bit before or after when the pattern-recognition part of our brains tells us it should drop, and the resultant tension is what makes us want to move to the music. If dance music is the design of sonic patterns in time according to the proportions — and the joyful, healing movements — of the human body, it is a science that has been perfected and survived better in the land of Africa, perhaps more than elsewhere.

In terms of sociology, drumming, singing, and dancing together (along with ritualized orgiastic practices in conjunction with the imbibing of sacred entheogens) builds group cohesion, develops trust, encourages cooperation, and forges strong bonds between members of society. Participatory dance is a deeply ingrained, centrally important social trait, an essential organizing principle common to human communities around the world prior to the advent of class and hierarchy roughly 12,000 years ago. Because it brings people together voluntarily, and creates ecstatic group consciousness via collective trance states, communal dancing reveals divisions, categories, inequalities, and laws to be arbitrary and meaningless, and is a convivial activity inherently corrosive of illegitimate top-down authority based on property.