'Hip-hop reflects our identity'.
JEDDAH: Some young Saudis love it. Others consider it a form of Western corruption. Whatever the case maybe, break dancing - an athletic urban dance form that originated from the streets of urban America - has become a popular pastime in the Kingdom.
At night, it is not unusual for young Saudis to gather at clandestine locations to break dance or gawk at the spectacle. On occasion dancers also pop up in public spaces for group competition. Donning Western urban fashion and playing loud music on boom boxes or car stereos, these young men imitate hip-hop stars to see who can come up with the best moves.
Wesam Ibrahim, 23, said he has been break dancing for two years.
"We gather every weekend in shopping mall parking lots and compete in groups," he said. "Sometimes people gather around us and they seem to enjoy what we are doing."
He said occasionally people approach the dancers an "advise us that we're traveling down the wrong path." But, he added, for the most part passersby are more bemused than upset.
"Overall, people love to see new things," said Ibrahim. "We are not bothering anyone with our sport, nor are we annoying the public."
Khalil Al-Harbi, 25, said he is keeping up with the latest news in the world of hip-hop.
"We gather in front of supermarkets, not to impress people or harass them, but to practice our rights. We make sure to gather large numbers of people to watch our sport. We create a challenging environment. As young people, we have lots of energy and we need to release it somewhere. Hip-hop reflects our identity," said Al-Harbi.
Muhsin Salem, 23, said break dancing has become so popular that there are competitions among groups from Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah.
"I wish people would accept the sport instead of rejecting it," said Wajdi, a 15-year-old Saudi break-dancer. "Often, people complain and police drive us away because what we do, in their opinion, is socially unacceptable."
Of course, not everyone is amused.
"Such people should have better things to do with their free time than this nonsense," said Muhammad Badwelan, 27. "In my opinion they are wasting their time, though they should be excused because they are nothing but teenagers."
Badwelan's friend Fadel Abdul Aziz nodded in agreement.
"They could organize it as a sport somewhere else, not in public," he said. They should understand that we are an Islamic society that does not approve of such things." When pressed further, Abdul Aziz demurs a little regarding his stance. He says break dancing "is better than drifting in cars or stealing from stores or harassing women."
"But," he adds quickly, "not in public."
Copyright: Arab News 2009 All rights reserved.
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|Publication:||Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)|
|Date:||Jul 4, 2009|
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