“Hafla” is the Arabic word for a get-together, whether religious, ceremonial, or just families and friends. While Haflas can be very diverse, there is one thing in particular Haflas are known for: belly dancing. Belly dancing has gained a lot of popularity over recent years for being a fun and interesting way of self-expression and to stay in shape. This art form has a long history within Middle Eastern culture. While many modern dancers experiment with music choices, the traditional music for belly dancers is the drumming of a doumbek or darbuka.
Doumbeks are goblet shaped drums that have very ancient roots in Middle Eastern culture. The doumbek is relatively light when compared to other drums such as the djembe. The doumbek is traditionally held in the lap and played with the fingertips. Many doumbek rhythms are so important to the history of belly dance that they actually inspired many of the moves dancers learn today.
These hand percussion instruments provide the foundational rhythms that are so important in belly dancing. These rhythms can perfectly emphasize a shimmy, isolation, or even a more complex layering move. The music from a hand drum accentuates the dancer’s unique movements and helps to build momentum through a performance. Doumbeks and darbuka drums also add to the excitement of a performance through the addition of live music.
For the belly dancer looking to add to a performance, learning the art of dancing to a drum solo can be that extra something that brings the dance to the next level. While dancing, a belly dancer can feel connected to a larger history of dance, empowerment, and beautiful movements.
When considering attending or performing in a Hafla, be prepared for an exciting evening of music, drumming and dance that transforms history and tradition and brings it into the modern sphere. Haflas are a great time to connect with people, meet fellow dancers, and enjoy a rich culture of human spirit.