What is Sha'abi?
Sha'abi is a modern style of belly dance performed by everyday Egyptians at various celebrations like street parties and weddings. However, to Egyptians and Arabs, sha'abi (meaning "of the people" or what is "popular") is so much more than that. Sha'abi is an attitude. Sha'abi is the way you interact with with the music and the music itself. It is the clothing, the way you engage with others and the atmosphere. It is a living breathing culture on its own. It is a fruit vendor yelling, a kid bouncing to mahragan music that's drifting from a nearby street wedding and someone blowing smoke from their hookah at a cafe down the way. For many Egyptians, it is a way of life.
Interview with Mahmoud Refat
This interview with the founder of Cairo's 100 Copies record label will help get you familiar with sha'abi culture and the mahragan scene within it.