Ghawzee - الغوازي‎




The Ghawazee mostly keep themselves distinct from other classes, abstaining from marriages with any but persons of their own tribe; but sometimes a Ghazeeyeh makes a vow of repentance, and marries a respectable Arab; who is not generally considered as disgraced by such a connection. All of them are brought up for the venal profession; but not all as dancers; and most of them marry; though they never do this until they have commenced their career of venality. The husband is subject to the wife: he performs for her the offices of a servant and a procurer; and generally, if she be a dancer, he is also her musician.








The Ghawazi (also ghawazee) (Egyptian Arabic: الغوازي‎) is a local practice describing female dancers who dance in return of money; the male version of the practice is described as "khawal". They first started as few Egyptian Domari who refused to dance for free unlike the common habit among all Egypt, then the idea got extensively practiced and got developed among rural Egyptians or Fellahin, who also developed a more rural and traditional style accompanied by Rural Egyptian songs and colorful dresses of the Fellahin and became a theme of Rural Egypt.

Over the years, Upper Egyptians (Sa'idis) mastered and then developed a different style of traditional Saidi dancing that's accompanied by Egyptian mizmar flute and Qena and Assuit's traditional female clothing of Telli (Egyptian Arabic: تلي)‎), a super silky type of local fabric. That Upper Egyptian style is the most famous, where the dancer is accompanied by a traditional Upper Egyptian Mizmar and a singer singing and narrating folk-songs in "Saidi Arabic" (Upper Egyptian Arabic language) about local hereos and popular love stories in towns.

The Ghawazee dancers are some of the indigenous professional dancers of Egypt. These traditional entertainers are becoming harder and harder to find as time passes. There are main movements and positioning of two of the most popular Ghawazee groups that are found in Modern Egypt; the Banat Mazin (Egyptian Arabic: بنات مازن‎) of Luxor and the Sumbati Ghawazee (Egyptian Arabic: غوازي السنباطي‎) of the Nile Delta. Banat Mazin are famous for their traditional Upper Egyptian vintage-style costume, so you can see how the movements would be affected by the costuming. The Sagat (finger cymbals), are optional but recommended in the Upper Egyptian/Saidi style.

While the performative and traditional raqs sharqi in urban Egypt was more classical and influenced by more formal and classical Western styles such as classical ballet or Latin American dance, the term ghawazi in Egypt refers to the dancers in rural Egypt who have preserved the traditional 18th- to 19th-century style.

The Arabic غوازي ghawāzī (singular غازية ghāziya) means "conqueror", as the ghaziya is said to "conquer" the hearts of her audience. They were also known as awālim (singular alma, transliterated almeh in French as almée), but in Egypt, Awalim are the traditional Egyptian dancers and singers of the city, not rural areas, who used to perform in respectable events such as the weddings and festivities of notable people.

Both terms are 19th-century euphemisms for "erotic dancer"; almeh literally means "learned woman" and came to be used as a replacement for ghaziya after the ghawazi were legally banned in 1834.

An almeh originally was a courtesan in Egyptian culture, a woman educated to sing and recite classical poetry and to discourse. After the ghawazi were banned, they were forced to pretend that they were in fact awalim. The term almeh was introduced in French Orientalism as almée and used synonymously with "belly dancer".

In 1834, the ghawazi were banished from Cairo to Upper Egypt by Muhammad Ali. Initially, the Ghawazi were a very small group who got banished because of their low-class dancing. By time the term then didn't refer to them but mainly became a general term for any dancers as it included all the traditional and folk dances of Rural and Upper Egyptians, mainly featuring mizmars and heavy bass lines and other traditional Egyptian music in the background.