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How to Arabic Line Dance

Dabke, or Arabic line dancing, is popular throughout Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq.

The most common Arabic folk dance is a line dance called the "dabke," which is traditionally described as Lebanese but is popular throughout the Middle East, and is often performed at wedding celebrations and other special occasions. Styles vary from country to country, and even in places from town to town, but in all cases the "dabke" is a line dance in which the dancers hold hands in a semicircle and follow a leader, usually called the "raas," or head. Some styles of dabke are very complex and performed by professional troupes, but simple versions are often performed at weddings and family gatherings with skilled and unskilled dancers alike. Try the dabke with the easiest and most basic sequence of steps.

Join hands with the other dancers in the line. Standing in your starting position, have your left foot slightly ahead of your right foot.

Cross your left foot over your right, stepping to the right.

Continue to the right by stepping with your right foot, returning your feet to the position you started in.

Repeat the crossover step, trying to keep the beat with the rest of the line. You will now have crossed your left foot over your right twice, and taken four steps altogether.

Kick out your left leg below the knee. Then raise the left leg.

Stomp your left foot on the ground. "Dabke" literally means stomping, so this is the most important part.

Repeat this sequence, moving to your right. The sequence is cross-over, step, cross-over, step, low-kick, raise the leg, stomp.

Tip

Listen to the music and focus on the steps. Follow the dancers beside you. The dabke is a group dance, so you want to stay with them.

Warning

"Dabke" is a broad word describing a number of dances from a number of countries. These steps will not allow you to join in all of them.

About the Author

Andrew Hoffman is a writer and blogger originally from Boston. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University, where he studied history, languages, philosophy and religion. Hoffman has also worked as an editor, creative consultant and English tutor.