Khaleeji music is the instantly-recognisable sound of the Gulf. Since that’s the ideal tourist destination for much of the Middle East, promising sunshine, sea, and shopping, Khaleeji is also the ideal holiday party music and the hit songs take you straight back to the time of your life.
The dances of the Gulf States celebrate the beauty of long hair, elegant wrists, fine perfume, new clothes, and chiming jewellery, but they’re also about the joy of anything that glitters and sparkles. Sunlight glints on the waves, on dazzling white buildings, on the golden jewellery and bright sequins of the dancer’s dress, and the shimmering cascade of her unbound hair. And all this brightness, the intricate language of of the dancer's hands, the sweep and swish of her hair and clothing, the heady mix of boldness and shyness, is but a glorious frame to the compelling magic of her eyes.
Credits: Leigh, Jess, Jo, Jill, Joanne, Amanda, and Irene dancing in pure silk costumes by Baladi Bazaar (Beverley Smith). Photos: Cecil / Jo Hirons
Nubia is the southern part of Egypt and the northern part of the Sudan, the ancient land of gold and of lions. Nubian music blends Arabic and African sounds and in the twentieth century Nubian bands influenced by South African township jazz and American New Orleans jazz added further excitement, making them the must-have entertainment for lavish wedding celebrations and television concerts. The Nubian bands brought their singers and dancers with them so that this infectiously happy and usually improvised dance-form became widely known throughout the Middle East.
Credits: Susie White brought a Nubian solo to Liverpool, and later in the tour, Nawarra also brought the house down with a crazy Nubian number. And in Newport we had a whole Nubian village turn out, thanks to Shirley Griffiths and the ladies of Hipsynch. Costumes for both soloists by Baladi Bazaar (Beverley Smith). Photos: Jo Hirons
Debke is the dance of the Levant, the sunrise lands of the Eastern Mediterranean. It is the happiest of dances and perfect for parties. Debke is to be found in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Palestine, and there are similar line dances from Greece, Turkey, Israel, Crete, Sicily, the Greek Islands and Cyprus. Before even the Romans came to Rome, the Etruscans were line-dancing, and loving it so much they painted dancers linking arms on the walls of their tombs.
Funoon wa-Alwane’s debke comes from Lebanon. It’s wonderful to share a party dance that’s at least 3,000 years old - but the most magical thing about debke is that no other dance lives more in the moment and sheer enjoyment of now.
Credits: Members of the company wore the famous red boots throughout the Funoon tour. Costumes (and boots!) by Baladi Bazaar (Beverley Smith). Photos: Cecil / Jo Hirons