So What Else Is New (or Old)?

Originally published in Caravan, vol 9, #2-4
By Morocco

Sorry it’s so long between articles I’m still too busy: performing, researching, teaching classes & seminars, rehearsing my dance company, organizing & leading tours for dancers and myself, lecturing, handling the 28 hour-a-day/8 day -a-week work schedule for my studio + arranging all the above and don’t have the luxury of time on my hands to sit down and put it on paper. The last time I wrote this article and sent it in, our wonderfully efficient Post Office managed to lose it. It’s taken months to be able to sit down anew in front of my computer and input the following reconstructed output.

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to perform, lecture, teach & present papers in many place I never would have imagined *40* years ago, when I got my first job as an Oriental dancer: including several bi-lingual lecture/ performances in Marrakech, Morocco by special invitation of the Director of Dar America (and taught special classes in Raks Sharki there and in Casablanca), lecture/performances for the highly particular and respected Cairo Women’s Club (asked me to stay and teach – can’t – already away too much), presenting versions of my paper on “Dance As Community in Selecteed Berber Nations of Morocco” *both* at the (a) combined conference of the Congress on Research in Dance/ Society of Dance History Scholars/ American Dance Association/ Dance Critics Guild at Lincoln Center in New York City in June, 1993 & (b) for the international conference of ICHPER-SD, a UNESCO organization, at the brand-new Conference Center in Cairo, Egypt in July, 1999, and, in the last 14 years, myriad seminars, concerts & shows in Germany (picked up enough German to teach, explain *&* joke in it!), Austria, England, Canada, Sweden, Israel, Switzerland, Norway, Italy, Australia, Brazil and Finland. That doesn’t include lecture series in schools and museums and lecture / performance / question and answer “concerts” or seminar / concerts all over the U S for over 35 years.

This coming June, I will be in Cairo again, at the invitation of Rakia Hassan, to lecture for the 2nd time at her weeklong dance seminar that is chock-full of big name Egyptian dance personalities – the *only* non-Egyptian to lecture!!

I’m not bragging (well, maybe I am, a little ….) – I’m totally thrilled because I didn’t spend the last 42+ years continually researching & observing in varied ethnic communities from which our dance comes, both here and abroad, to keep it a state secret. I do it to learn everything I could about Oriental dance (Raks Sharki) & other folk dances from those areas and to share it & keep this wonderful art form from vanishing as a result of “modernization” or “fundamentalism”.

I’m into truth as versus fantasy because truth is always better: more interesting than fiction. I do it to share the pure fun and joy of a beautiful dance form that, when done correctly, is healthier for us than Yoga and yoghurt combined and both uplifting & satisfying for the viewer as well. Beautiful music and exciting rhythms, great costumes, applause and ego satisfaction don’t hurt any either.

When one is around & vocal for that long, word gets out and people find you (sometimes at the oddest hours!) when they have questions and want honest answers from somebody who’s “been there” and is willing to explain/share. Often, the same questions come from the most diverse people & places and I find myself giving the same answers over and over. If I’d spent half that time writing, my opus magnus would have been written & published long, long ago. Not to worry, it’ll come and I’ll know much more by then. Meanwhile, we can do it in bits and pieces, a couple of questions at a time. Ready? OK.

Question: Is there a difference between Egyptian, Turkish, Persian, Arabic, Greek, Lebanese or Moroccan Oriental dance? How can we tell? Is there an American style? Does it matter?

Answer: Yes, “style” matters in some ways: 1) It can give the viewer a clue to the origin of the dancer (or the dancer’s teachers, environment & personal preference) and 2) by including “typical” movements or gestures, it can help the performer establish a link & communicate with ethnic audiences, making it more comfortable, familiar & enjoyable for all concerned.

The difference?

  • 1. Egyptian “Style”: I’ve been going there since ’64 and have seen myriad “styles”. Each “star” has her own style/personality. Negwa Fouad didn’t dance like Soheir Zaki didn’t dance like Nahed Sabry didn’t dance like Samia Gamal, Tahia Carioca, Zeinet Alwi, Hoda Shams el Din, Nadia Hamdi, ShuShu Amin, Nadia Fouad, Mona Said, Fifi Abdou, Hana, Eman Wagdi, Aza Sharif, etc. Nani isn’t Dina isn’t Lucy isn’t Aida Noor.

Don’t think every Egyptian dancer or “star” is as good a dancer as the ones I just listed. There are some real stinkeroos & bad attitudes out there. Thank Heaven there was only one Sahar Hamdi. She belongs in a class (or padded cell) by herself, if you know what I mean. Fortunately, the richer fundamentalists paid her off to “retire” & publicly “take the veil” on a popular radical fundamentalist sheik’s TV show in Cairo a few years ago.

Why were there so many dancers if it was a totally disreputable career? Because for the Egyptian economy, the pay was *very* good. It started deteriorating considerably during & after the Gulf War & as of January, 2000, I would have to say that there is NO real “dance scene” left in Cairo. I am totally sick & heartbroken about it. Most of the stars familiar to us started retiring in mid ’93. A terrible loss to the dance!

Now would I characterize what we think of as Egyptian “style”? Relaxed, confident, lots of hipwork while still not beating the music to death. Mostly fast, sometimes overly fancy / orchestrated / flowery music – especially intros. Stars used to have their own large bands, with several percussionists: music to die for and the musicians rehearsed till they got it exactly as the dancer wished. Great Maksum and drumming. Short slow taxims, if at all. Arms frame & accent the movements & direction, there is lots of communication & rapport with the audience. Those who CAN play sagat (finger cymbals) do. Those who can’t are smart enough to hire someone else to do it for them.

Full shows consist of an Oriental dance plus one or more “tableaux”: folkish or satire or whatever excuse for several costume changes. Some dancers add non-Oriental, even incongruous movements (or costumes) in the quest to be “different”, or if it’s something that strikes their fancy. A couple of the newer, younger dancers were wearing less onstage for a while (especially Dina) than we wear to the beach. You could tell who was a natural blonde. Madonna wannabees?! Made the dance/dancer look awkward & uncomfortable or slutty. Sometimes even made the audience very uncomfortable.

I recall an incident in ’90 or ’91, at the night club in the Nile Hilton, when I was there with one of my sweet, wonderful tour groups. Dina was “dancing” in a dress that was so short & tight, she spent all her time pulling it over her butt-cheeks. A very embarrassed table of Kuwaiti men & women went out of their way to tell us: “Please, understand: this is NOT how we dress to dance Sharki – what she is doing & wearing is NOT Raks Sharki. Raks Sharki is one of the beautiful, classical dance forms of our countries & this is NOT it. Please don’t think we are like this.” We reasssured him that we did, indeed, know better & that we understood that this was *her* own very poor costume choice. I said it would probably result in a fundamentalist backlash shortly. It did.

The Arts Police became extremely vigilant about costuming – for dancers who didn’t have very high political connections (Dina does, but even she has toned down considerably – though some of her costumes still leave far too much to be desired ….) that many took to wearing Spandex bikeshorts under their skirts for a fortunately short while. Yech!

An American dancer, performing in Cairo, was arrested because the slits in her skirt were too high & you could glimpse a bit of thigh!!! Believe me, you do NOT want to be a female & a dancer & arrested by those police! Needless to say, she is no longer dancing. As you read this, an Egyptian professor has a lawsuit before the High Court to ban public Oriental dance on the grounds that under Sharia, a woman can only show her body to her husband.

Older, educated Egyptians, who remember the days of King Farouk call the dance Raks Turkos or simply Turkos (Turkish), as well as Raks Sharki! When Farouk, last of the Ottoman rulers, was overthrown, they stopped dancing to Karsilama in Cairo – except for a number by Negwa’s chorus in ’79.

Why is current “Egyptian style” so popular now? Easy, because thanks to Lebanon’s long civil war, which ended only recently, for 20 years Cairo was pretty much the only place in the Eastern world where there were a lot of big, splashy night clubs that prominently featured Oriental dance and many pretty good to great dancers, plus a few interesting stinkeroos. A great many Americans, Germans, Swedes, etc. and other dancers have either made their “pilgrimage” to Cairo by now or seen lots of Egyptian dance videos. In some ways, this is good. In others, decidedly not.

  • 2. Lebanese? More waving, graceful arm & hand movements, upward, tighter, sharper hipwork, sometimes more or longer slow sections than current Cairo. More energy, less coquettish or “cutesy”. More apt to wear high heels than Egyptian dancers. (Same for Jordan and Syria). “Home” dancers affect a shy/coy attitude, a sort of “I really don’t know my body’s doing this”, but not to the extent of “shyness” in some Armenian women’s folk dances.

Nadia Gamal wasn’t typical of “Lebanese” style: she was always totally choreographed – including her facial expressions, and sometimes used modern & other non-Oriental dance movements. She was a truly unique, respected and talented artist. A terrible pity that she died so young. The “new” Lebanese style, since the end of the Civil War, is more “experimental” – both costume, music & dance-wise. Everyone is in *very* high heels or platform shoes, which distorts a lot of the movements, because it changes the dancers’ center of balance. They are dancing to everything, from Rock to Beethoven’s Fifth. Lots of it is fun, some of it is ludicrous, but at least they are trying. Hopefully, in the next few years, we will see Beirut producing some really fine dancers – that is, if the wacko fundos don’t scew up that “scene” too!

  • 3.Turkish? Except for Nesrin Topkapi and Tulay Karaca, unfortunately a lot of what you see on those Turkish Oriental dance **videos** from the 1980s is awful and not real “Turkish”. Too many *video* “dancers” from then look more like bored, dime-a-dance babes or clumsy go-go cookies: exceedingly underdressed, blueplate special raunch than the joyful energetic, bouncy, earthy women of all ages & sizes that I remember from Sulukule and other areas in the late ’60’s & ’70’s.

Current Istanbul dancers are lots better & much better costumed. The worst part is that dancers & ethnologists, who weren’t around in the ’60s & ’70s & only have that video crop to go by get at totally erroneous idea of “Turkish” Oryantal Tansi.

Real Turkish style is lively, bright & very cheerful. Lots “sassier” than the other styles. It doesn’t use Egyptian Maksum, it does do heavy Chifte Telli and might use fast or slow Karsilama, of the regular orSulukule variety.

The Turkish Oriental dancers don’t do costume changes in their acts that the Egyptians did/do, nor the variety of different “tableaux”. They have real folk groups for that in Turkey, since the Turks are justifiably VERY proud of their rich traditional folk dance heritage, teach it in their high schools & even have yearly folk dance competitions, with all the schools participating all over Turkey.

  • 4.Persian? Not really: they actually call it “Raks-e-Arabi” or “Arabic dance”. Real Persian/ Iranian dances might have hip & torso muscle articulations, but most are quite different in some ways than the Oriental moves – especially in the Motreb dances.

However, for a Persian/ Iranian audience, you might use a graceful, gliding 6/8 during the dance, co-ordinated headslides and arm movements, might use the chin quiver (they’d love that one!). Within the Iranian community, what we know as Oriental moves are more often used within *social* dances and some folk dances than as a full, extended routine. Even so, they are kept on the extremely feminine & delicate side. “Naz” or “charm” is the *main* point, not sexy/smoldering….

There is a vast treasury of classical and folk/regional styles in Persian dance. Nowadays, it’s confined to basements, done in secret or in the émigré community. The Ayatollah & his cohorts were not too keen on any sort of fun, especially for/by women. Seems to be changing a bit – but it has a VERY long way to go.

  • 5.Arabic – as in Saudi? Almost exclusively done by women, with women and for women at home. Mixture of Oriental moves and some lovely hair-tossing and gliding steps gleaned fromKhaleegi/al Nasha’al. There aren’t any night clubs or professional Oriental dancers in Saudi Arabia. Totally against their version of Sharia.

Some Egyptian dancers, in deference to tourists from the Gulf, slip on a thobe al nasha’al over theirbedleh near the end of an Oriental dance and do a bit of Saudi/Gulf dance, then remove it and continue with straight Sharki. Others might do a Saudi dance in that thobe as a second or third dance.

  • 6.Moroccan? What they do of Oriental is a combination of various Egyptian and some Lebanese styling that they have gleaned from visiting performers & videos.

Schikhatt is Schikhatt is Schikhatt. It’s *not* Oriental. Real Schikhatt moves would look too raunchy in an Oriental costume. “Citified” Schikhatt has some basic Oriental movements gleaned from Egyptian and Lebanese films/TV shows.

What’s presented as Oriental dance in most Moroccan tourist traps is usually mediocre to bad: Why? It’s not only not a respectable profession for a woman in any Muslim country, in Morocco, it isn’t even high-paying. That’s why.

  • 7. There is no such thing as a true “Greek” style. THEY, themselves, call it Anatholitiko Khoro: Anatolian (Turkish) dance. That’s from whom/where they got it, along with 500 years of oppression: the dictatorship under the Ottoman Empire.

Musically, basically, fast or very slow Chifte Telli – Greeks pronounce it Tsifte telli (ch and sh aren’t part of Greek phonetics) and some nice upbeat Turkish or Greek songs, with more of a steady, rolling rhythm & almost no “breaks” or syncopations, great rhumba/boleros, good Karsilama and if there’s a good clarinetist in the band, some great slow taxims.

On occasion, especially since Angelopoulos, some Greek musicians can play a few Om Kolsum or other popular Egyptian & Lebanese songs. Maksum is very rare. If you have enough of an Oriental dance vocabulary & technique and can go with the flow (as versus dependent on set choreography or stylized dramatics), you can do a great dance/show. Don’t worry, good dance is good dance.

  • 8. American Style? Veilwork is strictly our invention, harking back to the days when most “dancers” didn’t have enough of an Oriental movement repertoire to do a 20-40 minute dance without some sort of gimmick and Americans had a Hollywood harum-scarum, “Dance of the Seven Veils” fantasy, that made swishing a bunch of chiffon (synthetic or real) de rigueur.

I’m not knocking it. I’ve seen some veilwork so beautiful, it made me cry. In Egypt, a veil or cape might be swished about a bit in the fast entrance (Magensi), but it is discarded rather quickly during or at the end of the first song.

Until recently, and especially in New York and Boston, we preserved an older more “traditional” style because of the many old Lebanese, Turkish, Armenian, Egyptian and “heavy” Greek musicians and the extended-family ethnic audiences that had been here for many years.

What changed it all? The older musicians, who took pride in explaining & teaching the technicalities of the music & subtleties of styling to eager new dancers, making them surrogate grandchildren & part of the “family”, died one by one. They are sorely missed by those of us who were lucky enough to have known and worked with them.

The extended families, our best and most faithful audiences, moved to various suburbs as the wonderful, inner-city ethnic neighborhoods broke up and dispersed. A vast “school” of real ethnic dance was lost this way. I can’t count how many times I’d buttonholed a granny in the ladies room and talked her into showing me what she’d just done on the dance floor with her relatives.

Remember, there weren’t any schools or classes in America then – just as there are no schools or classes in most of the Near/Mideast or North Africa. Dance is learned (or not learned) at home, with and among the women of the family.

Some have *very* recently started teaching and choreographing on an individual or seminar basis in Cairo, in response to the demand from foreign (American, German, etc.) students, who went there to find a teacher, come-hell-or high-water. Some are well worth it, others are rip-offs.

Schools, Ah, yes, schools. Now we have lots – including mine. Some ways, this is great, IF the teacher understands proper anatomy & kinesiology and realizes that not every “really” who dances for fun at a party – or even on a stage – necessarily does the moves correctly or has proper posture & co-ordination.

Lord knows how many deluded duckies believed the dangerous myths of lean-back posture or that movements are one-sided. One “authority”, when her students asked why they had back pain or lopsided musculature, answered: “That’s the price you pay for being a dancer”. Criminal.

Schools & codified class structures also have a tendency to produce “cookie-cutter” dance clones, unless individuality is stressed; they can perpetrate a teacher’s faults or limitations in technique – especially when that teacher irresponsibly presents just what s/he knows as the sum total of Oriental dance technique. I’ve seen some really fine talents thwarted this way.

Some teachers, with very limited Oriental dance vocabularies find themselves EXCESSIVELY adding modern, ballet or other inappropriate movements in their quest for variety or something new & “different” to teach/make money from. No matter how sincere their motivation may be, one can’t teach what one doesn’t know.

All the trips to Cairo and easy availability of videos of Egyptian dancers have made too many dancers & fans of Raks Sharki think the current “style” there is the only option or standard. Wrong. It’s just a lot easier than the older style and until recently, Cairo was the only place left with lots of clubs featuring relatively good Oriental dancers. Unfortunately, the “scene” has worsened considerably &, like Camille, is on its deathbed.


What would I say is “American” style today? A variety of things, from a really good interpretation of current “Egyptian” all the way to a mixture of things filtered through the soul & taste of the individual. We do have the opportunity to choose what pleases us & our audiences, as long as we take care to ascertain that the various movements & music chosen are appropriate to the dance form and not culturally offensive.

We can change what we do to suit the occasion &/or audience. We aren’t locked into what we grew up with, as we would be if we had been born & raised “there”.

American dancers used to do floorwork. When properly done, it *is* a real part of the dance. They don’t do it in Egypt because Oriental dance was outlawed there for a while: from ’52, just after the revolution that overthrew King Farouk, till ’54, when it was re-allowed but with some restrictions.

Americans, who’ve been to Egypt since or watched a lot of their videos, noticed that Egyptian dancers didn’t do floorwork and were quick to copy, under the mistaken notion that it wasn’t “authentic Egyptian”, unaware it was currently forbidden.

Personally, I stopped for two reasons; 1) On a flat floor nobody can see what you’re doing beyond the first row and 2) I really don’t want to ruin some really fabulous costumes by dragging them all over a usually dirty floor.

Is there good news? You bet! The median quality of Oriental dance here is far, far better than it was 40+ years ago – because of the many good teachers & raised standards/skill of the students & performers. I’ve seen some wonderful dance being done in all the other countries I’ve been fortunate enough to visit in the course of teaching seminars or seen at festivals like Rakkasah. (Places I’ve been & can vouch for – I’m sure that there are others – just haven’t been there yet!)

We have the access & possibility of studying anything we want to and traveling pretty much anywhere we want. Our only restrictions are time, money & whether or not the current political situation allows dance in a particular place, when we choose to or can get there.

As women, if we were born & raised “over there”, that would be impossible for very many reasons.

As for me, I prefer an older, more varied & complex style and when I dance “over there”, people who were around to remember it thank me and ask me back. Younger audiences enjoy it too. Everybody likes a good show.

QUESTION: What about finger cymbals? Should I use them or not? Are they a real part of Oriental dance? If so, when should I play them? Why don’t Egyptian dancers use them?

Answer: Finger cymbals (sagat, Zillya, chinchines) are a real, authentic & important part of Oriental dance. There are lithographs, paintings, drawings, descriptions, mosaics, etc., going back many hundreds of year, with female and male dancers depicted or described as using finger cymbals.

They are a percussion instrument, just like castanets or drums (tabla, derbeki, etc.) Anything the drum can play, the cymbals can, and more subtly. HOWEVER, cymbals played badly or boringly become painful – like the water torture.

Should you use them? YES, YES, YES! When? Anytime you please, as long as the styling, tone & rhythm match the music & mood. I recommend not playing during very slow, soft taxims. If you want to play during the drum solo, make damned sure you can match what the drummer’s doing. Until you’ve practiced your little fingers to the bone, discretion is better than a mega-migraine.

Back in the Paleolithic Age of Oriental Dance (early ’60’s) it was forbidden for women working in night clubs in New York City to even talk to customers. We sat onstage, in civvies, between our shows (9:30 PM – 4:00 AM, six nights a week) with the band and played drums, tambourine and/or cymbals all night.

We were part of the band by default and because club owners, recognizing a good thing, wouldn’t hire (& pay) drummers when they had us. Banging a drum or tambourine was a convenient outlet for hostility/frustration and a great way to learn the rhythms/nuances of the music plus establish a real rapport with the band.

All the dancers played cymbals: Turks, Greeks, Egyptians, Lebanese, Armenians, Iranians, Algerians and us. Some well, most adequately, a few fabulously. Those of us who’d played castanets had an advantage. Some were so bad that animals and small children cleared the neighborhood when they came on, but play we did and the musicians helped & corrected us when we needed it, if only in self defense.

One of the things I learned from the myriad “ethnic” young women, who came to the clubs with their families, as customers, was that they rarely used cymbals at home haflas – they were the mark of a professional.

It was more than OK to dance with the family, but definitely NOT OK to be professional. They played when they danced with their girlfriends and most grannies could trill a mean zill: they’d play sitting down, wriggling pretty well in their seats, and then, almost as if it were against their will: directed by a force outside themselves, they were up and dancing like crazy. (“I’m sorry, Ahmed, I couldn’t help it. I just got carried away…“) Grannies could get away with almost anything.

Real Zambra Mora (Flamenco dance), which translates as Moorish / Moroccan party (Zambra means hafla / party in Maghrebi Arabic), is done bare-footed and with cymbals, not castanets and heel work. The movements are very sinuous and “oriental” It goes back to the 1400’s.

Why don’t the Egyptian dancers use them? Not all Egyptian dancers eschew cymbals. Those who can play do: Nadia Hamdy, Nadia Fouad, Nahed Sabry. Soheir Zaki plays during Maksoum and in her second, “baladi-style” dance.

Most do use cymbals during their Maksoum section or in a later number. Those who can’t are smart enough to know it and don’t. The main reason most don’t play through their Oriental dance TODAY are these:

  1. When Badia Masabni (Lebanese) had the Opera Casino night club in Cairo (catered mainly to Ottoman Beys, British colonial officials and higher rank male civil servants), she loved to play cymbals, played them really beautifully and insisted on playing them for “her” dancers: Samia Gamal, Tahia Carioca, Zeinet Alwi, Hoda Shams el Din, Suniyya Shawki, etc.
  2. The idea caught on, and it became an affectation – sign of affluence & their stardom to hire a separate musician or musicians (!) to play cymbals with the orchestra.
  3. The cymbals currently mass-produced in Egypt today are tourist crud and sound like it. They don’t have Turquoise, Saroyan, Minassian, Zildjian there. (You can still get good zills in Turkey, where, by the way, almost all the dancers still use them).
  4. Most dancers’ bands in Cairo have at least 10 pieces, so it’s possible to include a cymbal-player, since they work so cheaply. Try and find that possibility here!
  5. The mistaken idea that you can’t play cymbals and still have graceful hands. If you play correctly, with your fingers held very close together, you most definitely can.

Just because the recent Oriental dance “style/fad” in Turkey was underdressed raunch, does that mean we had to desecrate the art and follow suit? Of course not! Same goes for cymbals: disavow / neglect them and you only cheat yourself & your dance possibilities.

As with your dance, take lessons from somebody who really knows how & has the correct technique: very closely held fingers, cymbals at a bit of an angle – so they don’t strike/clop full-on, delicate strokes, relaxed hands in a natural position – NOT held palm-up, properly placed secured elastic – so’s not to dull the tone or all the tone possibilities etc.


BEDLEH: literally “suit”, however in any article on Raks Sharki, it means the costume worn by the dancer while performing Raks Sharki. It is ***not*** necessarily the belt/bra/skirt cliche “costume”, esp. since in Egypt, the torso must be covered & the current style is to dance in Spandex evening gowns, with strategically placed cutouts (filled in with transparent, flesh-colored Spandex!)……

CHIFTE TELLI: (Turkish) literally “2 strings”, here refers to the Turkish/Greek name of a specific rhythm used in most Oriental dances till the ’80s, usually very slow for performances & much faster for the social version. Arabic name for it was “wahad w noss” or “dar w noss

HAFLA: *Levantine* Arabic for a party that involves music, singing & usually dancing.

KARSILAMA: Turkish 9/8 rhythm, called “Oksak” in Egyptian Arabic. Totally folkloric in origin, it can also be used in an Oriental dance, with Oriental movement vocabulary that does *not* occur in the folkloric version.

MAKSUM or MAKSOUM: *Egyptian* musician’s *slang* word for Masmoudi Saghir rhythm, often incorrectly called “Beladi” in American dance vocabulary – however, the real “Beladi” rhythm is totally different.

Literally, “Maksoum” means “broken in half”, because it has half the beats of “Masmoudi Kebir“, or “big Masmoudi” DUM DUM TEK-A-TEK DUM TEK-A-TEK

RAKS SHARKI: the only correct name in Arabic for what has been insultingly mis-named “belly” dance by Sol Bloom in 1893. (Oryantal Tansi in Turkish). The proper translation is: “Oriental Dance” or, less commonly, “Eastern Dance”. In most Arabic speaking areas, it is usually referred to simply as “raks” or “dance”

SCHIKHATT: A specific Moroccan women’s dance. For a full explanation, see my “Dance As Community Identity in Selected Berber Nations of Morocco”

THOBE AL NASHA’AL: the ultra-fancy Saudi & Kuwaiti *overdress* used for “Raks al Nasha’al” at women’s wedding parties in Saudi Arabia & Kuwait (where it’s called “Raks Samri”).

KHALEEGI: Gulf & can refer to the geographical area or any Gulf rhythm, dance, song: like saying “country western”

RAKS AL NASHA’AL: Saudi & Kuwaiti women’s dance, where they show off the aforementioned fancy dress & their lovely hair ….

SHARIA: Arabic word that means either a) street OR b) Islamic law, depending on context. In this context, it refers to Islamic Law.

SULU KULE: a) water tower (literally) OR b) Gypsy ghetto neighborhood in Istanbul, Turkey OR c) very recent, specific syncopated urban Ghetto Gypsy version of the Karsilama rhythm, called “Sulu Kule Karsilama” – danced with a different emphasis & attitude than the usual Oriental Karsilama. There is no “folkloric” version/ dance.

TAXIM: solo, usually improvised, by any instrument or voice (also a neighborhood in Istanbul)

BELEDI (BALADI): a) Arabic for my city/town – also “country” as in “folk” when referring in a technical sense to village music or folk dances from certain areas (Egypt & the Levant, but not theMaghreb); b) a specific rhythm (think Metkal Kenawi’s faster songs); c) “country” as in”hick”, when used derogatorily by a pseudo – educated snob, as in: “Oh that’s so baladi