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Raqs


THE STORY

Dance is “raqs,” dancer is “raqAs.” The word for dancer is derogatory and essentially means “prostitute.” There is no word for dancing among family. If you dance too much at a wedding or family event, then you also risk being called a “dancer” (e.g. prostitute). Dance is mainly practiced among families and close friends at weddings, at circumcision celebrations, at social gatherings on holidays. Dance is practiced in gender-distinct settings (even at weddings unless it’s very very close family).


The music industry is booming in Afghanistan because of importance and appeal of weddings. Musicians (generally male) are chosen for their age, not necessarily their talent, because the younger the men the likelier they are to look at the celebrated’s women. Musicians are thus often chosen for the amount of facial hair they have (the less the better).


I love sports. Dancing is a sport of body, of mind, and that’s why the whole idea of dancing is a workout too, a body movement. Why I like salsa, because it has a lot to do with foot movement. I play basketball, which is played with a lot of footwork too. When I say sport, I think of health, of being in shape. Dance is a physical exercise. I have passion and I really like dancing, it’s a sport of the world. Dance is a form of sense of freedom, it gets a lot of stress out of your mind. Dance is a way of expressing happiness and sharing the family.


I dance at weddings, family gatherings, with friends, for fun, by myself. When with the right company, house parties, embassy events here in DC, cultural dance, organized taught dancing, and if you’re wrong you can watch other people, which is nice. At bars, clubs, I like to do general social dancing. French and Argentinian dance events are also nice. But I don't have much chance to dance in general. I’m so busy and not much time in general. I have friends, but most of my time is spent in basketball and music. I really like the sport and foot movement of it though. Last time I danced was two years ago at my brother’s wedding.


I think dance has no border, sort of like music, it can bring people together. Why I like it, why I like to go, you forget about the language about looks about movement, and there's no boundary or border to it. It's a sport of the world.


Being away from Afghanistan I feel a sense of needing to preserve my Afghan culture. In my spare time I practice Dari.


THE STORYTELLER

Location: Washington, DC, USA

Age: 37

Gender: Male

Ethnicity: Tajik

STORY ID: 00040

#story #raqs

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