Do You Know How to Dabke?
Middle Eastern Club Hosts Lively Dance Event on Campus
In recent weeks, the Middle Eastern Club of Moravian has hosted a thought-provoking panel on the conflict in Syria and a lively evening of dance. Entering the fall semester, its first hosting on-campus events, the club purposely tried to have a sense of balance in its programming. “We wanted to share Middle Eastern culture in a way that was fun, accessible, but also critical,” explained club advisor Khristina Haddad, associate professor of political science.
On Oct. 1, the club achieved its latter objective, hosting a rousing panel discussion on the conflict in Syria. Melissa Hosni ’14, club secretary, explained club members were pleased to introduce a “serious” topic to campus, but “then we wanted to lighten the mood.” The result was the inaugural “Teach Me How to Dabke” event, held in Johnston Hall’s dance studio Nov. 20. The affair turned out to be so lively Haddad admitted having to step out to catch her breath. “It was so intense, I actually had to leave a few times,” she said.
Approximately 40 people attended “Teach Me How to Dabke,” becoming familiar with the popular Arab line dance that is often performed at weddings, birthdays and other joyous occasions. The energetic group, comprised of students, faculty, staff and their families, received an introductory lesson and then hit the dance floor. In addition to food and refreshments, four belly dancers from Catasauqua’s Gas House Dance Hall rounded out the festivities, performing individual routines for the crowd.
Although simple in form, consisting of just a few steps, Dabke is a whirlwind of fun. Before long, the entire studio was caught up in the excitement. “When it starts, it becomes this waving line of people hopping and stomping,” Haddad explained.
Club president Sami Mamari ’14 was ecstatic with the attendance, and the group’s enthusiasm. “We really wanted it to be big, but we didn’t know what to expect, so we were really thrilled with the turnout,” he said. “It was more than what we expected, but exactly what we wanted.”
Mamari explained the “Teach Me How to Dabke” event was partly inspired by a parody of the widely popular “Teach Me How to Dougie" song, recorded a few years ago by the hip hop group Cali Swag District. Having batted around the idea of a dabke dance event since the spring semester, he was thrilled to see it come to fruition.
Our campus is so often very quiet and controlled, but this group was really getting down. It was very exciting to see the energy this event created.”
– Khristina Haddad
Haddad applauded attendees for their willingness to embrace the club’s event, becoming more than spectators but active participants. “Our campus is so often very quiet and controlled, but this group was really getting down,” the professor said. “It was very exciting to see the energy this event created.”
Considering the large concentration of people of Middle Eastern descent in the Lehigh Valley, Haddad concluded there is real value in the club’s activities for the campus community. “It's wonderful for students in the club, but also important for the broader campus community to understand the particular cultural mix of this region,” she said.
Haddad was so enthralled with the dance that she asked first-year student Caroline Nehme to teach their FYS group how to dabke the very next morning.
“We couldn’t be happier with how the event turned out,” Hosni said. “It was a really fun way to show the community a part of our culture.”
For more information about the Middle Eastern Club and the group’s activities, which are open to all students, contact Sami Mamari and Melissa Hosni.
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