Debke, Debkhe, Debka

Debke or any other spelling similar to this!

Always a happy dance of celebration and community from Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and neighboring countries. Of note, Egypt doesn’t have a debkeh per say…they dance balady! Different songs have their own steps, different families dance differently to the same song. People from Ramallah dance differently than other Palestinians and Jordanians and Assyrians have their own debkes.
Considered a folk dance if you will and is done in a line generally doing CCW counterclockwise, starting with the left foot. The leader(on the left) often will twirl a napkin or prayer beads/misbaḥah in his/her left hand raised.

Why debke? Well, as “bellydancers” we don’t really debkeh in our performances, but some of our movements are informed by debke. For some reason(which are a lot of reasons) they end up being intertwined and mixed in with Saidi steps from Upper Egypt. Remember I said Egypt doesn’t have a debke, but dances from the Said, particularly the tahtib often have exuberant steps and phrases that are similar to debke. To make it more confusing, you will see Arabs (regardless of regions) use a saidi like song to debke to. Or musicians play a debke song for a saidi (assaya) dance! (Ya Ein Moulayetin)

In social gatherings, either in a nightclub, wedding or other hafli/celebratory environment, you will see it as a social dance..and enjoy it as such! On the stage, with a debke group, you can expect to see very tightly choreographed and talented dancers.

Either way…check it out in the spirit of play! The next time you see a debke line, join in. the basics a little fancier Ya Ein Mouleyetin Samira Tawfik a famous singer who sang in a Jordanian Bedouin style. You can see her here singing and her dancers are mixing bedouin style dance with a tiny bit of debke. The costuming is not Jordanian, so you can see this is for film only and not indicative of any real dance.

A professional Palestinian debke group, wearing the black and white keffiyah and tabl(drum)

And maybe you saw this debke flashmob at Beirut Airport dancing to famous song Huwara!

A little more casual debkeh line ( I think They are professional)

One of my faves

A dancer’s blog, with some good background.