Dabke, the dance of joy

This article is also available in: Italiano

Today we are talking about the dance par excellence in the Middle East: the Dabke, a dance with ancient origins but with a warm heart and more beating than ever.

Dabke, “Stamping Feet”

The origins of Dabke are very ancient and can also be partly found in the word itself. In Arabic dabka means “stamping feet” and it is thought that its origin is associated with this particular action. According to a popular tradition, in fact, this dance dates back to the time of the Phoenicians. These built houses in stone and with roofs of wood, straw and earth, which materials were compacted, precisely, by stamping their feet.


With the arrival of the Arabs, this dance then entered fully into Arab traditions, spreading as far as Egypt and Turkey. The various migrations then brought the Dabke also to distant lands, making it known to the whole world.

A thousand and one variations of dabka

Precisely because it is based on the simple beat of the feet, this dance has undergone various variations depending on the peoples with which it came into contact. Relatives of the dabka can be found in Armenia with the kochari, in Greece with the syrtos and in general throughout the Balkans and in Israel with the hora. In addition, there are also different ways to dance it, Jordan for example can count on as many as 19 variations based on the number of steps or occasion.


The Dabka is however associated above all with occasions such as weddings or circumcisions, moments in which this dance can be experienced at its maximum power. A whole musical genre was naturally born on this dance, widespread above all in the territories of the Sham (Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan and Syria). It is characterized by the very marked presence of instruments such as the darbuka, a percussion instrument typical of all Asia, and by a very rhythmic song, useful precisely for stamping the feet.

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