So anytime there is a gathering of Syrian-Lebanese people, and um it’s a celebration of any type, there will be music playing, and the music has a very unique rhythm, usually a very strong percussion base, and so that lends itself to a lot of folk dancing, and the folk dancing is when the families, members of all ages, get together and hold hands and do a um a dance, and it’s a repetitive dance of about eight or twelve counts, and you just do it as long as the music is playing. So if you have someone playing, oh and the percussion I mentioned earlier is called a derveke, and uh used to be made of a wooden or metal drum with animal skin stretched on top, and it could make a really loud sound, so as long as the dervake is playing, you can dubke, so whether you have a full band or just a derveke, you can do the dubke. It is significant to me because well that if I don’t carry on the family traditions and teach my children how to do the dubke and the family recipes, it will die out and there will be no heritage.
Informant: The informant is a Catholic mother of five, of Syrian descent. She is from Kinder, Louisiana, where she grew up in a large family.
I believe that this tradition and practice of dance and folk music greatly exemplifies the communal aspect of the Syrian-Lebanese culture. The gathering of Syrian-Lebanese families is usually quite large, as extended families come together to celebrate. The music lends itself as a great example of the history of the culture, as the specific instruments that are used to play music in America are derived from or are the same as those that were originally played in that region. As the rhythm lends itself to folk dancing, the communal aspect of the culture is apparent in the holding of hands during the dance, and the need for each participant to be synchronized with the rhythm. Because it is a line dance, if one person missteps, it can interrupt the synchronization of those around them. It is also interesting how the repetitive nature of the dance movements demonstrate how the dance is learned, as anyone can stand up, hold the hand of the last person in line, and follow their steps that match the rhythm. This once again demonstrates the communal aspect and the importance of celebrating the Lebanese-Syrian community through dance.
I also thought it was interesting about the association of “heritage” with this dance. Because the dance is learned from other people and can vary from place to place and person to person, it is more of a tradition than heritage, especially because it is a mode of activity that represents the past. Heritage, on the other hand, is not an activity, but rather an inherited set of relationships about who you were in the past. So, this practice is a tradition that celebrates the past of Lebanese-Syrian cultures and in doing so, it is a way for the people who partake in it to acknowledge their heritage. I was also able to learn parts of this dance, as I was invited to partake in the tradition. This was a lot of fun for me, because the rhythm is very up-beat and perfect for dancing.