Burn, Smoke and Spin: Revving up the Streets from Soweto to Ouarzazte

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Car spinning is burning serious smoke throughout Africa and the Middle East. Prepare to be in awe as wheels spin and drivers do what should be impossible. 

Smoke fills the air. Engines roar. Tires shriek (just like every person gathered around in disbelief). Before we can even process what we’re seeing, a car spins 360 degrees in front of us and within seconds, the driver is standing on its roof as the car spins out through its own momentum. This isn’t a physics lesson – this is car spinning.

If we’re lucky enough to be on the sidelines of Soweto’s casual spinning shows, Magesh Ndaba – aka the “King of Spin” – will be pulling off a routine that has him do a full-on handstand inside his car, sticking his feet through the sunroof (watch a video of the King do his thing). Here, only a few pros like Ndaba dare get behind the wheel, which is just fine with us. We’re more interested in the camaraderie that hits when all our teammates come together. It’s like a pop-up urban block party, with just enough planning to make sure the DJ has plenty of juice to keep the beats blasting. 

Across the continent, there’s another street party in the desert roads of Morocco and Saudi Arabia. Turns out, the rubber doesn’t only burn in the city, and out here in Ouarzazte, these drivers have the extra space to push the fun even further. It feels more like an illicit rager in the woods than an urban block party, and we kind of like it that way. The open road is our meet-up spot, and the crowds line up along both edges as the driver approaches, “flipping” his SUV on its side and then climbing on top to hang out as the car drifts on only two wheels. The party kicks back in, given an extra jolt from what everyone just witnessed. 

Again, we’re not likely to get an engraved invitation here, let alone a Facebook invite. The legality of some of these tricks (or lack thereof) keeps the events spontaneous and the subculture as shush-shush as possible. And while we’re pretty blown away by it all, we’re happy to leave spinning to the pros and watch from the (relative) safety of the crowd. After all, we’d like to see our fellow teammates out and about and in one piece.  

Photo credit: "Night Bustle" (c) 2007 by Flickr user Ã¡rticotropical made available under a creative commons license.