A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Aswany on Belly-Dancing in Egypt Today for NYT

Alaa Al Aswany, the novelist (The Yacoubian Building) and critic, has a piece at The New York Times on attitudes towards belly dancing in Egypt today. Much of what he says is familiar ground: despite socil disapproval it is highly popular. He cites the famous Tahia Carioca (see my posts here and here for videos)

He notes:
In just one recent month, a video by the Egyptian-Armenian dancer Safinaz was viewed by Egyptians more than four million times. The Lebanese star Haifa Wehbe’s dance video got more than 10 million hits. Oriental dance evidently provides light relief from the general state of tension, but there is more to it.
Oriental dance has always been controversial in Egyptian culture. Egyptians love belly dancing, as it is commonly known in the West. Tahia Carioca, a legendary belly dancer, declared to the newspaper Al Hayat in 1994, “Go to any wedding party and once the music starts up, you’ll see all the girls in the family suddenly get to their feet and dance like crazy.”
The NYT may provide "All the News That's Fit to Print," but it didn't post the videos. Where the NYT fails, I step in. I believe the Haifa Wehbe video is this one (the movie from which it comes, Halawet Rouh, is banned in Egypt at the moment (the censors cleared it vut the PM stepped in), doubtless fueling the popularity of the video:

I'm less confident about which Safinaz video he's referring to, as there are many this year to choose from, but I rather suspect it may be this one, which is, shall we say, one where her, um, bouncy parts, are very bouncy:

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