They Thought I Was Turkish!

On my recent visit last month to the U.S specifically Atlanta, GA, I was able to observe and participate in a wide variety of Dabke across many cities and villages. The amazing thing I found was that every time I go to a city within that state I find a group of people who immigrated long time ago together from either Palestine, Iraq, Syria, or Lebanon. Again, it is fascinating to see the different styles they use in Dabke that represent their villages back home. Towards the end of my trip, I was able to identify the origins of any group just by observing their style of Dabke.

Now let’s look at the bigger picture. If I’m talking about villages in a particular city or a country doing all different styles of Dabke, I can only imagine how many different styles and unique forms Dabke can be done on the international stage – International Dabke! I will share with you something amazing that I experienced while on my trip. But first, let me point out where and which countries consider Dabke as their cultural form of art that are NOT Middle Eastern and Arabic is not their primary language: Turkey, Armenia, Greece, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Other Arab countries that are not famous for their Dabke dance and music are: Yemen, region of Kurdistan, and Gulf countries (Saudi Arabic, Emirates, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar). Dabke in those regions is being influenced greatly by the original source of Dabke in (Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq).

As promised, I will share with you some of the experience and exciting moments that I spent in Atlanta, GA at parties and weddings during my 2 week trip. At one of the Turkish coffee Houses in Atlanta, they played some random Turkish music which appeared to sound like Dabke to me except for slightly different moves. I initially though it was European only to find out from the waitress that it is Turkish. It looked so nice and energetic. After about 30 minutes, they played Turkish music that is very close to the first one and I joined in to taste what it feels like. I needed about a minute to get into the rhythm and catch up to the rest. Then after perfecting the move or the routine they were doing, I jumped to lead the line and added some Middle Eastern flavor to it. It looked NICE I gotta say! When it was over, a young man approached me and started speaking Turkish to me only to find out that I’m not Turkish and I don’t speak the language. He was very surprised and told me that he thought I’m Turkish from a small village near a city called Adana. The name of the village is so difficult to say there is no way I could remember it, but it is truly fascinating how he labelled me and assigned a village and a city to me according to the style of Dabke I was doing.

Here is an example of some Turkish Dabke – Sound Volume Warning!

Another similar experience occurred when I was at a wedding of a relative of mine. When the DJ played the first Dabke song, almost all men where on the dance floor. I started by leading the group, then all of a sudden someone came to me and asked me to do Dabke the way New Jersey residents do it. I said what are you talking about? He said ‘Deir Dibwan’ which is a village in Ramallah, one of the largest cities in Palestine. Again, it is unbelievable how they related certain moves and routines to villages and cities. Luckily I was very familiar with that style of Dabke and led the wedding until ran out of energy. After the wedding I inquired about those living in New Jersey, and I was told that most residents originally from Deir Dibwan immigrated in the 90s to states like New Jersey and California. Though I am originally from the city of Ramallah and from a village very near to Deir Dibwan, I never really knew that they acquired that particular style of Dabke as theirs.

Had I not known how to Dabke, imagine how much LESS fun I would have had on my trip!  I got to join in with people from different countries, cities and towns all because I knew Dabke.  I think you should be able to do the same!  As you know, we’ve released Dabke101 – How To Dabke, our Dabke training and instructional video program that teaches you step by step how to do Dabke.  If you havn’t seen it yet, have a look here.  You are going to LOVE the way Dabke is done and taught.  IMAGINE you can learn Dabke in days and on your own pace? No matter where you are in the world and no matter which country or culture you are coming from, our method of teaching Dabke is INTERNATIONAL and can be applied anywhere at all occasions.  Step-by-step instructions, from slow motion to normal speed teaching videos, different angels and full instructions included. We will teach you Dabke so you can impress your friends and family at weddings or parties, even if you’re from a different area!

Here is one of the intro videos for “Dabke 101 – How to Dabke”

Your Instructor/Coach
Samir Hasan

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