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Folklore

Dabke: The Dance of the Lebanese Village

Folklore
Imagine yourself walking into a village that is full of oak and vineyards, and feeling the blossoming of the mid-September harvesting. This, my friends, is a village found in Lebanon following the traditions that its ancestors have left behind. 
Lebanese villages are famous for so many of their ancestral traditions and with honor carry them from generation to generation. Many of these consist of the family's cooperation and in this case the whole village is thought to be the FAMILY. 
In mid-September, families join each other in their fields, to celebrate the vine harvest season. The grapes picked from the vine have been separated, some for making arak (the Lebanese visa to drunkenness), some for wine, others for vinegar and the rest for making grape molasses. 
The air is filled with the charming aroma of the grape juice that is being heated on the fire. Some women gather their beautiful straw trays laden with tabouleh, hummus, babaghanough, stuffed vine leaves and a collection of delights, fruits, and breads. Others balance water jugs on their heads walking as elegantly as can be. The young men and women, dressed in festive clothes, go with their mothers to meet with the elder male members of the family in the fields. The young women are dressed in flowing skirts and shirts topped with long vests; veils and headdresses with beautiful decoration and intricate beading adorn their heads. The men are wearing their sherwals and labbadeh (baggy pants and felt hats) with colorful vests over their shirts and boots. 
An old man enters the scene carrying a derbake (a small drum made of a clay cylinder and stretched goat skin), followed by couple of other men with their nay and mijwiz (the nay is a single long bamboo flute and the mijwiz is a short double barreled high pitched flute). 
The music starts to play, and the fresh September evening breeze is everywhere. Some men and women hold hands and start to dance to the daloonah tune, the base of all Dabkes (to stomp the ground with ones feet), while others clap their hands creating the appropriate mood. Then this opens way to improvised singing; a woman enters the scene with a jug balanced on her head and is joined by others, as if competing. Then men join in with their swords, doing the sword dance to the rhythm of the mijwiz. As time pass by, and the mood becomes very temping, the elders join in, holding hands with the youngsters forming a line of unison and doing the same step. The man and woman at the opposite ends of the lines make different steps on the theme to show how competent, agile and graceful they are. The rest of the company clap and cheer to reveal their happiness. 

An old man calls from behind and announces that the grape juice has boiled enough and once it cools down, they can drink it. Here the atmosphere is filled with ululation to the man behind the juice and to the women who prepared the food. And as the ululation continues the tempo of the Dabke increases. 

Luckily, from all the Lebanese traditions this scene did not die, especially in the villages. The Dabke is a national Lebanese dance that is carried out nearly in every nightclub, restaurant, or party you attend. 

Its History 
In the olden days, before tiled roofs were installed on Lebanese homes. Their flat roofs were made of tree branches that were topped with mud. When the change of seasons came, especially winter, the mud would crack and start to leak and would need to be fixed. The owner of the house would call his neighbors for help- Al-Awneh- and the neighbors would gather up on the roof. They would hold hands, form a line and start stomping their feet while walking on the roof in order to adjust the mud. 
After a while, Al-Awneh, became to be known as Daloonah, a form of improvised singing and dancing the dabke. A derbake, nay and a mijwiz were added in order to keep the men going in the cold weather (it helped stimulate the blood pressure to produce more energy).  
As time emerged, the Dabke dance came to be known one of Lebanonís most famous traditions. Today Dabke is performed in every Lebanese household. The Dabke is made livelier, when friends and families gather around the Lebanese mezze with arak or wine and begin to perform this dance. 

 
Sourat  

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