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.  

 

 
 
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RMD You Tube Channel

There are playlists that will guide you to the rich culture, music and dancing of urban Egypt both on and off of the stage. Take a peek and make sure to show the "Subscribe" button some love.

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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. 

This music video is "Ya Zahr" by Ahmed Shiba. It shows a cinematic portrayal of sha'abi music and dancing. This song is one of Amber Skye's favorites! 

 
 
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But what about the history of belly dance?

 

This beginner-friendly article will help you get started! Nisaa of St Louis is an anthropologist and researcher of Egyptian raqs sharqi (Arabic for "dance of the east" and in the West known as "belly dance"). She has written extensively on the subject and has been published in The Belly Dance Reader, the Gilded Serpent and has just published her own book!!