Ismail Elhalawany Photography

Dance Like An Egyptian

eclectic egypt

As part of our Eclectic Egypt series, our guide Mohamed El Babi shows us the lesser known sides of Egypt.

“The beauty here is that all boundaries and walls that have been built inside us from our cultures, traditions and ideologies, fall apart on the dance floor.”

Each and every one of us has his or her own way of having fun and expressing their feelings; letting out their energy positive or negative; letting out whatever they feel or want to say. Some would express or let out these feelings through sports, others through singing, drawing, writing, and the list goes on and on endlessly.

One of the most important forms of having fun, expressing your feelings or letting out whatever you feel is dancing. This magical gift through which we can let out all our thoughts, feelings and most inner secrets. It is the translation of rhythm and beat into moves and steps.

There’s a wide variety of dances according to origins, music genres, and styles. Some dance can be solo, with a partner or even in a group. One of the most exciting dance genres is Latin dancing, which in turn has a lot of sub-categories underneath; like salsa, bachata, merengue, cha cha, samba, etc.

In Egypt, we do love dancing in general. And as a part of the Middle East we are famous for the belly dancing. However, during the end of the last century Latin dancing has been growing more and more. I don’t know when was the first time Latin dancing was introduced in Egypt, but watching old Egyptian movies with dances with Latin flavour in them, I can tell that it was there here long ago.

In Egypt, we have many dancing schools and academies, in addition to various instructors. The most famous Latin dances in Egypt are Salsa, Bachata and Merengue. Tango has also been growing and spreading more and more. Cha Cha? I’d say it comes after. There’s also Kizomba that was introduced in Egypt like 4 or 5 years ago. Kizomba is an African dance – it’s beautiful, really beautiful. Along with it came semba and zouk. I have to say that Kizomba is spreading all over the globe like fire in the woods.

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Ismail Elhalawany Photography-2

Image Credit: Ismail Elhalawany

We have (almost) daily parties. Some parties are dedicated to a certain Latin genre, others mix between all genres. In addition to that, sometimes we have big Latin events that gather all Latin dancers and enthusiasts in Egypt. The biggest dancing event we have in Egypt is the Afrolatin dance festival whose 4th version was last October. It is an international festival with instructors and dancers from all over the world who come to Egypt to enjoy its beauty while dancing

The beauty of Latin dancing comes from the fact that no matter who you are; man, woman, old, young, tall, short, fat, slim, black, latin, white, muslim, Christian, etc, you will be one with your partner. This beautiful chemistry that ignites and glows between you and your partner, this spiritual sensual connection. Sometimes you would even dance a beautiful dance with someone, you smile and walk apart after the dance and may never meet again. The beauty here is that all boundaries and walls that have been built inside us from our cultures, traditions and ideologies, fall apart on the dance floor.

In Egypt, the Latin community is growing more and more every day. However, it is not easy for us Egyptians to be dancers. Somehow the society criticizes the fact that a male and female are dancing together and sometimes in a close position. They don’t see the fun behind dancing, the sensual relief, the spiritual relief you get when you dance. I mean, Latin music is fun, sensual and beautiful, thus dancing to it is just beyond any description. But still, we follow our passion and love for dancing. We share it together and we try to aware others from outside the community what it is all about.

Finally, I’d say that a person needs to find a passion, a relief, something to love and be happy doing it. Sometimes we are quite lost deciding or knowing what we really love, but you will never know until you try. For me, I found it… it’s when I move with my partner to those beats the dj spins.

Mohamed El Babi is a writer and Flint contributor based in Cairo, Egypt.

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