31 thoughts on “Merry Christmas from Arabia!

      • Thank you Taxi  for some local 'colour'

        We are overwhelmed with 'carols ' since August , over here in London

        Best wishes to all and Hopes for better saner days to come  over our Middle East And the rest of the World

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      • Taxi says:

        Merry Christmas, bintbiba!

        Christmas Carols since August?! Yikes – that’s horrid! Extreme commercialization of Jesus cheapens his message.

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      • Walid says:

        Hi Taxi, hope you had a nice Christmas. I'm sure you've been following Manar TV all week with its celebration of Christmas carols and the parade of many Christian clerics that included bishops discussing the life of Jesus and how he served as a model for all mankind. For those that don't know Manar TV, it's the Hizbullah station. This year's Christmas was extra special in that it coincided with the birthdate of the prophet. So for Moslems, it was a double celebration.

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      • Taxi says:

        Seasons greetings to you too, Walid.

        Actually, I hardly watch Al-Manar so I really appreciate you bringing us what they’ve been up to.

        Fancy Hezbollah paying such warm attention to Jesus – Hagee should be force-fed his shorts while being forced to watch hezbollah meaningfully celebrating the birth of Jesus.

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      • Taxi says:

        Yeah great dancing and a great song too. I don’t know anything about bellydancers, names of good ones etc. but I’m definitely going to go look at some Samia Gamal videos on youtube. Thank your mother from me for the introduction. Wonderful stuff!

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    • Taxi says:

      Wow – that is some seriously good dancing – incredible, beautiful dancer!

      But what I don't understand though is the fact that Arab society being so conservative as it is would have such a non-conservative dance tradition like bellydancing.  Can an Arabist explain this?  I mean I've been to family restaurants here in Lebanon (Janneh restaurant) where bellydancers (many of them, like about ten) are suddenly right in front of your table, all dressed like the dancer in the video and really shaking it up and down right in front of children and wives and husbands and grandparents who're all sitting at tables clapping and thoroughly enjoying it all!  I was utterly shocked to see the enthusiastic  bellydancers suddenly pop up seemingly out of nowhere during mid meal, I mean my mouth dropped to the floor and my eyes bulged out lol!  I'm from liberal Californian and no way in hell would you see such a sight at a family restaurant (like Denny's lol) – you wouldn't see it anywhere in Cal or any other state for that matter, not in a family restaurant, no way.  That kinda dance costume and hip shaking is associated with strip clubs and treated as such.  Yet it's the norm in the conservative Arab world.

      I would love an explanation to this.

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      • Bornajoo says:

        A great question. Hopefully someone can explain it. You just reminded me of a Lebanese wedding I attended in West London about 7 years ago. The venue was full of families, with kids running around all over the place. Suddenly, out of nowhere a whole load of very delightful scantily clad belly dancers hit the floor in what can only be described as quite a provocative display.  ALL the men had a very hard time keeping their eyes where they were supposed to be. But I don't remember seeing or feeling any of the women being pissed off about it.

        Great question. Looking forward to the explanation

         

         

         

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      • Taxi says:

        Yeah I didn’t notice any jealousy from the wives at the restaurant either – and believe me, I was looking around trying to find someone else who was shocked like I was, but no, I was the only uncomfortable customer while everyone else was clapping and swaying and smiling ear to ear. All the men were just looking and enjoying themselves – no creepy ogling or lascivious looks, not that I saw.

        Well, it is shocking if you don’t expect it and bellydancing is suddenly sprung on you and there’s kids and grandmas everywhere.

        I’m hoping Walid has an answer to my question.

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      • Walid says:

        And another thing, Taxi, men seeing such dancers in close proximity to them gives them the false feeling of being Shahriar, a fictional character straight of the medieval "One Thousand and One Nights". The women accompanying the men that are ogling the dancer play a supporting role in this charade by pretending it's not really bothering them or that they are slightly jealous but in the end it's all taken in good humour by all since the dancer disappears for good after the act.

        This wasn't much different from the American go-go dancers in short-shorts and boots that would do a 3-minute dance number on top of the patron's tables for 5 bucks or the flimsily-dressed waitresses serving beer at a truck stop.

        Same stuff but different geographical location.

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      • Taxi says:

        Walid,

        I think the cultural value of bellydancing in the Arab world is a lot higher than the “flimsily-dressed waitresses serving beer at a truck stop.” I know you’re down on bellydancing, Walid, but cccccome on now! Heh.

        To me, bellydancing makes female sexuality assertively present in a very conservative society – it takes it out of the realm of taboo and normalizes it, albeit in a controlled environment.

        I sense the origins of bellydancing may go way back to ancient pagan Arabia – all that shaking and core muscle contractions remind me of fertility rituals intended to heighten procreative energies – homages to pagan goddesses. From the hip down, the movements make me think of Africa, and from the waist up, all them curving, swirling movements remind me of India. Bellydance is perhaps where the influences of Africa and India on the Arabs meet?

        I personally find much artfulness and incredible athleticism in good bellydancing.

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      • Walid says:

        You can also say there's art in strip-tease. The dance is supposed to be "oriental dancing" but picked up the tab "belly" along the way because it was danced by very plumpish dancers that could do the belly thing by breathing in and out that made the belly ripple up and down like waves, something rather hard to do with skinny or shapely ladies. Here's a video of a classical oriental dance (by Samia Gamal that Bintbiba mentioned) without the incessant shaking of that thing and of the boobs; it's actually very graceful:



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      • Taxi says:

        Great video of Samia Gamal – thanks, Walid.

        And again, I don’t know that you can compare stripping to bellydancing. One is more sexually aggressive and in your face than the other – plus, strippers actually take all their clothes off and bellydancers don’t. Plus, bellydancing takes much practice and physical discipline while stripping, well, any old monkey can swing and shimmy while hanging onto a pole.

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      • Walid says:

        "bellydancing takes much practice and physical discipline" (Taxi)

         

        That's what they used to tell the ladies to get them to enroll for dancing lessons at the "Y". Professional stripping used to be harder because the strip dancer had to keep stalling the climax of their act until the men were ready to jump out of their skin. Belly dancing without the pole, as opposed to classical oriental dancing, had the same objective. I doubt there are any strippers still around.

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      • Walid says:

        "I would love an explanation to this. " (Taxi)

        I'm not much of an expert on the subject especially that I can't stand it and never did.. Most Mediterranean bordering lands have it is some form or other so it's not exclusive to Arabs. Its roots , much like veil and the ceremonials held at the Kaaba predate Islam and it was just one of those things the Moslems picked up on their way. In the not too distant past, belly dancers to stay out jail had to cover their navel with some kinds of faux-bijoux and a semi-translucent covering for the part of the body between the lower costume to the underside of the bustier. Today, most belly dancers are blond blue-eyed Ukrainians or Russians and the dancing especially in front of kids in restaurants is one of the first steps towards the devalorizing of women.

        Aside from the commercialized dancing intended to arouse male senses and ensuing heavy tipping, the music is actually great. There are a few dancers that actually dance a nice oriental dance without the sexy stuff and it's very graceful..

         

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      • annie says:

        my guess is — women have these private women only wedding parties and they let it all hang out. they let down their hair and dance with this sort of dancing. maybe not with the outfits, not sure. i think because they don't partake in public displays of dancing like this one imagines when they get together they don't dance like this and i think they do more than we know in their own homes. therefore a bellydancer in public is not surprising for a woman to watch because she knows she dances herself like that traditionally and likely for her husband. that's just my guess. when i was in gaza some of the women tried to get me to dance — and they do that rapid call with their tongue to spur you on. they go a little wild when men are not around. one time on a tour of a community center there was this other room with a hairdressing shop and a large thick blanket curtain over the entrance. the women got to go in but not the men. and they were doing women's hair really really fancy. like nothing you'd see on the street. so these women they go home and take off their hijab and look totally different. not all of them but certainly many of them. 

        hey, a fun thing to do it turn the sound off on the bellydancer and turn on the arabic jingle bells and watch the dancer with the other music on, it works — fun 😉

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      • annie says:

        another thing, i was recently at the american muslims for palestine conference in chicago. on friday night there was a womans only fashion show (incredible traditional palestinian dresses). there were at least 1000 women in the hall – no men. and there would be groups of women on the runway and towards the end the wedding parties dresses, like sisters of the bride costumes and such and they would strut around and dance, sexy. then groupings of the little girls dancing, they were learning hot moves young. very cute.  i wasn’t just dabke.

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  1. Hello you'all

    First of all Thank you annie , dear annie , for your good wishes and and a very Happy New Year to you and yours. 

    Taxi, Thank you for the Jingle Bells with a rhythm like no other !

    As for the belly dancing and in close proximity of children and grannies …It is very normal in typical Lebanese weddings and celebrations

    Another very famous and beautiful dancer was Tahia Carioca who was married to Omar Sharif at one time . She was of a previous generation than Samia Gamal . They were both Egyptian .

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    • annie says:

      bintbiba, hi!  i wish i had read this before posting my other comments about the dancing. and wonderful wishes for you to in the coming year.

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    • Taxi says:

      Merry Christmas to you and to your good family, b.grand.

      And thank you for bringing such interesting links and images to Plato's. 

      Gilad should know better:  no way will the ziocons halt their diabolical warmongering aims.

      My message:  May our fists get larger, harder and mightier for all the battles that are surely heading our way next year.

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