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After having read Dave Whelan’s letter to the editor (The Mail, 7/28), I dug up a copy of the Washington City Paper featuring the dancer Malika Negwa in the article “Gut Response” (7/14). As the current president of WAMEDA (Washington Area Mid-East Dance Association, www.wameda.org), a local restaurant performer, and a belly-dance instructor, I thought I should respond.
There is some false information in the article. First, men do belly-dance; this dance form is the social dance of North Africa and the Middle East. It is common to see young and old, men and women strutting their stuff at parties. Malika Negwa has chosen not to instruct men—but fortunately there are many local instructors who do indeed instruct men in their Middle Eastern classes. So to Mr. Whelan: If you are indeed interested in learning this dance form or in seeing it performed at other local restaurants, please do so! Please do not lump us all in the “for women only” category. That is complete nonsense! You are invited to my class!
Second, because this dance form predates written records, there is no proof on how, when, where, or why it evolved. There are only theories, some more logical than others. Luckily, this dance form has spread and is a work in progress, ever evolving, with the different countries having their own dance styles, preferred musical instruments, rhythms, and movements, as well as costumes. This dance form is as varied as its performers.