MARCH-APRIL 2020 INBC NEWSLETTER BLOG

Archive 244

EDITOR’S NOTE:

INBC hosted it’s popular Winter Bazaar back on January 18th of this year and it was a huge success. There was plenty of vending, plus the shop and swap tables, along with interesting and informative classes and three dynamite stage shows. At lunch, many of us enjoyed the round table discussions of etiquette in belly dance situations. Next up for INBC is our biennial election of officers. See the article below for more on that. And of course, we will all be looking forward to the INBC Summer Carnival later this year.

INBC members do a lot outside of our usual events. Many of us teach classes, perform solo or with a troupe at shows, festivals, restaurants, and other venues. While you are posting your class and appearance photos, videos, and P.R. on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, don’t forget to send the same to me for inclusion in whichever Newsletter is coming next! Do not assume I will pick them up, as I need your permission to publish them. I also encourage you to write articles that reflect your interests connected to belly dancing. Do you drum regularly for dancers? Write about it? Do you perform regularly in a restaurant? Write about it. Do you play an instrument? Teach a class? Have you done research on a particular subject related to or adjacent to belly dance? WRITE ABOUT IT!!! And then send to me at katlebo@aol.com or by Messenger!

Deadline for the May-June 2020 Newsletter is April 30th!

Kat Lebo, Newsletter editor

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2020 INBC Elections!

As mentioned in the Editor’s Note this spring INBC will be electing their slate of officers to serve the 2020-2022 term. Would you like to run for office? Do you know someone who would be a good fit for one of the offices? Here are the offices and the people now holding them. Just contact the person currently in the office you are interested in either running for or nominating someone for and office or contact your 2020 Election Committee — you can find all of us on Facebook!

  • President: Angie Shaw
  • Vice President: Mina Pedersen
  • Treasurer: Paul F.P. Pouge
  • Secretary: Julie Holloway
  • Public Relations: Elizabeth Carr-Wray
  • Newsletter Editor: Kat Lebo

Jenny Smithson and Adam Riviere are your 2020 Election Committee. Watch the Member FB group for more information.

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MEMBER NEWS

The Midwest Bellydancing Superstars, performed at the 2019 International Festival on Nov 7 at the Ind State Fairgrounds. This troupe is led by Judy Hanna, the founder of our amazing, diverse and loving group of belly dance enthusiasts. Included in group photo are current INBC members: Sherry Ricketts, Suzette Dubeansky, Carol Hurley and Judy Hanna.

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SHALIMAR CLASS

Looking for something fun and new? Want to learn to dance like Shakira? Looking for something to do on Saturday March 7th? Shalimar will be offering beginner belly dance classes starting March 7th at 1pm in Burlington, IN. Come and take a beginners Belly Dance class. – NO, you do not need previous experience of any kind – NO, you do not have to be skinny to do this. – NO, you do not need boobs to do this. (We have had several Male belly Dancers over the years) – NO, it does not cost a lot. Beginners class is free will donations. – NO, there is not a 4,6, or 12 week Commitment. – YES, it will be fun Come see what it is all about! DM Debra Harvey for the studio address.

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Bare Bones Belly Dance Classes

Kat Lebo’s Bare Bones Belly Dance is beginning a new 6-week session of classes.  These classes are part of the West Lafayette Parks & Rec offerings at the Happy Hollow Complex, 1200 N. Salisbury in West Lafayette.  Included are BASIC DRILLS, a class for beginners and those that want to work on their technique (Mondays, 8-9 p.m., $45), INTERMEDIATE CHOREOGRAPHY, a class for learning short, simple choreographies for use as group numbers or solos (Wednesdays, 7-8 p.m. $45), BELLY DANCE DRUM, a class for learning the basics of drumming the doumbek, learning popular Middle Eastern rhythms used in belly dance, and good for learning to play them on doumbek or on zils/sagat (Wednesdays, 8-9 p.m. $45), and ADVANCED CHOREOGRAPHY, a class for those wanting more complicated group choreographies (Thursdays, 7-8 p.m., $45).  You can register online at https://secure.rec1.com/IN/west-lafayette-in-parks-and-recreation/catalog.  And ask Kat (katlebo@aol.com or Kat Lebo on Facebook) about the student troupe!

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EGYPT BANS MAHRAGANAT MUSIC:

Long Live the Music of the Streets

By Kat Lebo

In early 2020, the Egyptian government lowered the hammer on the wildly popular style of music known as Mahraganat.  Mahraganat (or festival) music surfaced about 2005 or 2006 and became the music most associated with the revolution that rocked Egypt a few years later.  Before we look at this newest censorship, let’s look at some history of music and music censorship in Egypt.  To do this, let’s look back a few decades to the mid-late 20th century. 

With the advent of the cassette, and its quickly spreading popularity over the vinyl record, music in Egypt began to take a turn.  Whereas cutting a record had required a studio, contracts, etc., and was basically beyond the reach of the average everyday Egyptian, with cassettes, making a recording was much easier and infinitely more accessible to the public.  Prior to this time, the music that reached the ears of the average Egyptian was through the media, and was easily controlled by those who controlled the studios, who allowed access to recording to a select group of singers, songwriters, and musicians.  But once aspiring singers and musicians from all walks of Egyptian life could make their own music cassettes, the control began to erode.  Add to that the steady march of time, which produced the retirement and death of many of the government sanctioned artists of the past, and the control held by studio owners and media heads began to deteriorate.  And, of course, as many of us may remember from when rock and roll first became publicly popular here in the U.S., there was a hue and cry from the elite in Egyptian society, all decrying the deterioration of class and taste in the new music.  What was really happening had more to do with who would have the right to define what was and was not acceptable in Egyptian culture.  The state secured promises from radio and TV to not showcase those singers and songs that were deemed as vulgar, and the movies did not escape censor as well.  However, the people would not be deprived of their music, and the cassette tape, and its ease of production paved the way for what was to be a revolution in the modern Egyptian music scene long before the creation of today’s Mahraganat style. 

For more information on earlier attempts to control music in Egypt, read Censoring Sounds: Tapes, Taste, and the Creation of Egyptian Culture, by Andrew Simon, here: 

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/international-journal-of-middle-east-studies/article/censuring-sounds-tapes-taste-and-the-creation-of-egyptian-culture/0F60C8412831BA7B8794FAD51255AD20/core-reader

The current ban on Mahraganat music can lay its creation at the foot of one particular song.  At a concert in celebration of Valentine’s Day, 2020, Hassan Shakoush performed at the Cairo International Stadium, where he sang his newest Mahraganat piece, Bint al-Giran (The Girl Next Door or The Neighbor’s Daughter) as a duet with Omar Kamal.  The song was wildly popular, but the president of the Musicians Syndicate, Hani Shaker, was quick to issue a ban on all Mahraganat music which basically prevents the Mahraganat artists from performing in “clubs, cafes, hotels, concert venues, or on Nile cruise boats.”  The same article, dated March 1, 2020, states that “The Supreme Council for Media Regulation is also considering a ban on TV shows featuring Mahraganat singers.”  

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/364158.aspx

Here are two versions of the song Bint al-Giran.  One may be the duet piece from the concert and the other a January 2020 televised performance to live music: 

There is definitely more to this music ban than shows on the surface.  As in the earlier article on censorship, this ban is seen as a government attempt to literally control what the Egyptian people can listen to.  Unlike the earlier attempts at censorship, this ban not only prevents the playing of Mahraganat on/in Egyptian media presentations, it prevents the artists themselves from performing in public venues.  Add to that a fatwah from the religious authorities which forbids the faithful from listening to the music.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/egypts-music-ban-is-part-more-disturbing-cultural-repression/?fbclid=IwAR2piZbpruQ0qsQg-B65asPK4ooIS2yX6x3iMYfmqR2lS8d8h7drFub1U9U

So how does this ban affect the Mahraganat singers we listen to?  How will it affect our use of the music?  That remains to be seen.  Even well-connected artists such as Hakim may be affected by this ban.  The Sha’abi musics, of which Mahraganat is a spinoff, have long been resented by those in power because of the sociopolitical themes the music espouses.  While the artists may not perform in their own country right now, they can perform and record outside of Egypt.  When you look at the wide range of singers who could be affected, it is hard to see how this will be a fight the government can win.  Although the music is banned in Egypt, it is certainly still alive and well on YouTube, Spotify, and other streaming sites.  Just earlier today I watched the most recent Arabic Top Ten, week 10, 2020, which showcased groups such as Barath3m Thugs, the Hassan Shakoush and Omar Kamal song mentioned earlier in this article, and the Moroccan singer/rapper, Saad Lamjarred.  It is hard to imagine that these online sites will be lessening the play time of Arabic artists, wherever they are from. 

https://see.news/ramadan-shakosh-daboos-and-youtube-era/

For my own part, my troupe will keep performing the Mahraganat pieces we use in performance done by Egyptian artists such as Mohammed Ramadan and Oka and Ortega.  And just as the Mahraganat music itself, we’ll dance it in the streets come summer. 

Wanna feel like a rebel?  Include one of these five songs in this article in your repertoire!  https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/egypt-musical-syndicate-bans-popular-mahraganat-genre-music

Here are a few examples of songs that would fit with this ban:

From Mohamed Ramadan, this video published to youtube on March 1, 2020 (by the way, the title of this song translates as You Are A Stump):

From Mezdeke in 2020:

From Oka We Ortega this year:

From Hamo Bika, again this year:

Here are a few other article links regarding the recent ban:  https://egyptianstreets.com/2020/02/17/popular-mahraganat-music-is-now-banned-according-to-egypts-musical-syndicate/?fbclid=IwAR1OdAiTdvQylQZyQsG_I7QLYxImTOb83bhehDV75mrAi8N6uoY6Ratgat4

https://www.timesofisrael.com/egypt-bans-popular-street-music-after-deeming-it-too-racy/

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/02/egypt-bans-street-music-singers-following-controversy-over.html

https://abcnews.go.com/International/egypts-wave-censorship-takes-aim-street-music/story?id=69145778

https://pen.org/press-release/egyptian-institutions-ban-mahraganat/

https://stepfeed.com/one-song-ends-all-egypt-bans-mahraganat-music-genre-over-single-hit-2716