Yellow Jumpsuits

London-based director Alexander Tiernan talks about Pantsula, an energetic and politically charged dance style born in South Africa’s black townships, and the subject of his short film:

“Part dance, part lifestyle, Pantsula has its roots in Apartheid-era Johannesburg and continues to be a defining element of South African township culture. Some say it originated in the 1950s and that the jumpsuits and bucket-hat look came from the uniforms worn by black men employed as gardeners in white neighbourhoods.

 “Pantsulas carry a certain prestige, and it seems strange to me that the culture has always been closely associated with gangsterism, because a lot of what I saw while shooting was so playful and endearing. It’s a reflection of township life where anything can be the story, where any place can be the stage and you create your own status. I wanted to focus on that sense of resourcefulness and let the feet do the talking.”