M'alayah

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The M'alayah (Arabic: معلايه or معلاية / ALA-LC: ma‘alāyah) is a kind of dance common in Eastern Arabia. The dance is usually misnamed by calling it various names such as um-alaya, dagni, etc.

Although the name and its origin, is doubtful (due to the obscurity of the rather taboo nature of the dance in the strictly conservative Aman music countries in the Middle East), the M'alayah is mostly considered to be primarily of African origin and is associated with people of African ancestry living in the Persian Gulf region. The M'alayah's contemporary equivalents on the neighboring African continent include the Makossa and Mapouka.

The dance is sexually suggestive in nature, with women tying up their lower torso with a piece of cloth or Keffiyeh, and performing sensual fast movements. There is no set pattern and method of performing the dance although some of its movements can be likened to those in bellydance, hip hop styled “booty popping”, Mapouka etc. It is known for its fast sensual movements of the buttocks and backside.

Primarily this dance is more often performed by groups that usually comprise singers, dancers and also back up musicians. These groups perform in special occasions such as weddings. The dance is accompanied by singing various songs that are unique to this type of dance. These troops or bands of musicians and dancers are usually outcasts and do not intermingle with the majority populace of the society.

The entertainers make out a living by charging an agreed upon fee in the range of US$ 1000 to US$ 3000 depending on the function they will be in, typically a marriage or an engagement ceremony, tribe celebrations etc., but usually end up earning much more in the form of tips either being thrown on the ground or on the dancers themselves. They are suspected to belong to Bidun groups of people.

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