Samoan fire knife dance at Matareva Beach Fales on Upolu
Matareva Beach Fales, Upolu

Fiafia Nights

Visitors to Samoa are bound to notice advertisements, signs and other information about fiafia nights, particularly at your accommodation.

But what actually are fiafia nights, and what can you expect to see or do there?

A night of celebration

Fiafia means gathering or celebration, and visitors can expect to experience just that.

Since the first Samoan people arrived on these islands more than 3,000 years ago, traditional dancing, singing and cooking styles have been passed down from generation to generation. 

Being able to watch a dance that has been performed for thousands of years, and taste food similar to how people ate centuries ago, is surely something to celebrate. 

After a performance, visitors may be encouraged to try some of the dance moves for themselves – don’t be shy!

Dancing

Fiafia nights are a great introduction to some of the most colourful aspects of Samoan culture and for many, the highlight are the beautiful dances.

Samoan dancing is quite distinct from other Polynesian cultures, and has had minimal modern influence. 

Here are some of the dances you may see at a fiafia night, complete with traditional costumes and clothing:

SIVA

Siva means dance, but it also describes a group of dances.

A siva could be a slow, fluid and graceful storytelling dance that is commonly performed at fiafia nights, performed by a young woman who seemingly glides over the floor.

FA'ATAUPATI

The fa’ataupati is a fast, energetic slap dance performed by men. 

SIVA AFI

Siva afi, or fire knife dance, is as dramatic and impressive as the name suggests. It is performed by young boys or men who twirl a large knife with burning flames at both ends around their necks, through their legs, under their arms, and over their bodies, all to the rhythmic beat of the wooden drum. 

Traditionally, the knife dance did not involve fire, which was added around the 1940s.

Umu

Food is central to Samoan life and culture.

Fiafia nights normally have a buffet feast, which often includes dishes that are cooked in a traditional umu using hot volcanic rocks. 

Meat, seafood and vegetables are wrapped in taro and banana leaves. The food is flavoured with coconut cream, more leaves are placed on top and the whole thing is uncovered several hours later.

Eaten immediately while steaming hot and full of delicious flavours, this is a food experience not to be missed.

Experience a fiafia in person

Check out a fiafia night near you

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