Uncle Waffles' Amapiano Sets Are Made For Dancing — Even If You Don't Get It

Meet South Africa’s rowdiest party starter.


Introducing... Spinning Out, a recurring series in which NYLON spotlights the most exciting DJs working the circuit right now. Get to know promising upstarts and sub-genre superstars — before they hit the big leagues.

It’s impossible to go to an Uncle Waffles show without dancing. The 24-year-old Swaziland native and DJ has gone viral on TikTok and booked Coachella, all from her rowdy sets in which she grinds, twerks, pop-locks, and generally moves nonstop behind the decks. She’s the opposite of the detached, stock-still DJ archetype, and a lot of that has to do with the music she’s playing: amapiano, or a South African house-music-meets-jazz subgenre “that’s purely for dancing and good vibes,” she tells NYLON.

In recent months, the rise of South African pop star Tyla and the Drake-cosigned DJ duo Major League DJz have made amapiano a global sensation — but you might consider Uncle Waffles one of its earliest champions, at least in the clubs. Below, get to know the party starter as she talks getting her start during the pandemic, her go-to dance move, and the wildest show she’s ever played.

How did you get your start DJing?

During the pandemic, I had a job where they had a deck around and we sometimes brought DJs because it was at a TV station. We brought a DJ once, and I really wanted to learn. I had no intention on actually becoming a DJ, but months and months go by, and I’m practicing eight hours a day. Then I took a big shot. I made a little bookings poster, and I put it out there and I was like, “OK, if anyone books me, sure.”

What was your first official gig?

It was at a pub. I think there was maybe a hundred people? But it was huge for me because the only people I’d ever played for were people on my Instagram.

Did you grow up loving dance music?

I always knew I wanted to do something creative, but I didn’t know what exactly it was because, growing up, [I was] always taught that creative things are not sustainable. I actually thought I’d be an actress. I used to write screenplays in my room. But the way things happened and how I ended up in this felt like this was always the thing I was supposed to do.

I’m assuming you were always really into music.

I was very into house music.

Was there a big house music scene where you grew up?

Music was what we had for a very long time. I think most Southern African countries depended a lot on house music, because there were only house music festivals. Hip-hop started coming in later, when I was in high school, but it was always about house music, deep house. And then it was about a genre called Gqom, which is very different from house, but it has the same scene, with the same people.

Was there a pivotal song for you growing up?

I was a big DJ Kent fan. He had so many iconic songs. Off the top of my head, my favorite DJ Kent song, wow, would be “Spin My World.” I used to love that song. I think it was first released in 2013, so I was 13 years old.

I saw you at Coachella in 2023. You were dancing so energetically on stage. I feel like dance is such a huge part of your personality as a DJ. Can you tell me how that started?

I actually used to dance before I used to do anything else. At small family braai [a South African feast], I used to be that kid they [would] bring and say, “Come dance for us.” When I started DJing, I used to dance when I was alone, but when I started playing for people, I used to not dance because I wasn’t as confident. When I started getting more confident, I started moving more and people showed that they actually liked it. Soon, I got to a place where I realized that internationally, because people don’t understand the language of the sound, they will understand the dance. I want people to feel it the way I feel it.

What’s your go-to move?

Wow. I don’t even know. I actually call it pop-locking. It’s like head locking to the exact beat. That doesn’t make sense. You have to see it.

What’s the craziest show you’ve played in recent memory?

I played Boiler Room in Atlanta. It was so hot, the building was actually sweating and flipping onto the deck. The deck stopped working mid-set because of how hot it was and how [hard] people were dancing. My wig did not survive.

Were you surprised?

I was very surprised. One thing that I do struggle with is crowds tend to not dance. Sometimes they’re figuring out the sound, but that crowd was dancing, they were singing. I had a really good time.

Over the past few years, you’ve been a part of this global rise of amapiano. What do you think is important for people to know about the scene?

I think the main thing people need to know is that the genre is created for dance. It’s a genre created purely from feelings, because the log drum imitates the heartbeat. It doesn’t exclude anyone. It is for everyone. Literally, any type of musician can hop on amapiano, it can go into any song. You don’t have to understand it, just rock with it.