Throughout my random tours in the US with El-Awda Dabke Group for weddings, I come across very unique individuals and communities who redefine the commonly known terms of Dabke. Let me explain. The reason why I’m sharing this article with you is because I have collected lots of Dabke emotions that cannot be stored in my personal space anymore. I have to share this with everyone.
I love attending weddings. I love the atmosphere that is created by Zaffah/Dabke groups from the designs of their uniforms to their music playing rhythms. If you attend an Arabic or a Palestinian wedding in particular you will know what I’m talking about. As a Dabke leader and Zaffah expert in this field, I’m going to give you an idea about the little details that go behind the scene of Zaffah/Dabke groups at weddings. This is something you do not hear or see often.
When people attend weddings, they don’t usually pay attention to the micro-details that happen within those Zaffah/Dabke groups. I’m going to be stressing a bit more on the Zaffah part this time because that’s the main essential part of ANY wedding these days, especially the Palestinian ones. A wedding can be live and entertaining without a professional Dabke being performed IF the attendees have some sort of background about it. This is where Dabketna comes to play. Dabketna.com was found to help people gain Dabke knowledge through the beginner and advanced programs (Dabke101 & Dabke Leader) that were designed and be an active part of the wedding. NEVERTHELESS, Zaffah is seen as the most essential part of a wedding. Here is why: First reason is that most people do not memorize the words or the poems associated with Zaffah. Second, not everyone know or have the skills to play the instruments used in the Zaffah. Third, you can barely find anyone who has the guts to publicly perform it. That’s why the authentic Zaffah is slowly disappearing, especially in the west. But as part of El-Awda Dabke Group in Atlanta, Georgia, I take full responsibility in bringing this authentic Zaffah back to our weddings. I have a bunch of young talents that are specialized in the Palestinian Zaffah that make up the core of those weddings. I have to share one of those moments that really left a mark in our hearts. While at a Palestinian wedding in Tampa, Florida with El-Awda Dabke Group, and after completing the Zaffah at the groom’s house, an elderly man approached us with teary eyes and said: “I have not seen this instrument in 50 years, you just brought back memories that I thought were erased”. This is literally what he said. The elderly man was referring to the Yarghoul instrument which is almost extinct in this western side of the world. The Yarghoul is considered the signature of the Palestinian culture and tradition until this day, though you can almost impossible find anyone that can play it now a day.
Zaffah is all about synchronization and that story telling theme at a wedding. El-Awda group has a very unique and fun way of doing that. To be good at something requires that you do it over and over again through practice. Here is another moment that I have to share with you that is characterized by pride and joy which reflect a way of creating chemistry within the group. While travelling with El-Awda Dabke Group for a wedding in South Carolina, USA we had to stop for a break and to fill up gas. Our boys decided to ‘practice’ while resting. Within 15 minutes, at least 30 people were surrounding us in public sheering us up and enjoying our beats. A random American guy started rapping to our Zaffah tunes making the most exciting mix between a Palestinian Zaffah and a rap culture. This is what happens when two artistic cultures clash, a unique production of talent is born.