Regarding Piracy

To the People of the Free World

I found a 9gag post today about piracy. Here it is:

I read some comments left and right and it just struck me as weird that so many people indeed agree: downloading wares illegaly is theft. I’ll explain to you why I thought this was weird:

I’m from the age where buying albums was the only thing you -could- do. A long, long time ago. And back then, there was no intarwebz. Can you imagine? We’d hang out in record-stores for hours and hours after school, trying to find the best tunes. We used the headphones at the store, stood for hours behind a counter, asking people to play you a certain record. And if the album was good enough, we’d spend our pocketmoney on it.

There are alternatives to piracy. Like Spotify, for instance. But when entertainers don’t provide alternatives or revoke rights for services like Spotify, there are no alternatives imho to the old fashioned record-store headphones and services, but piracy.

So if you really don’t like it; come up with a solution instead of beating down those who want to get to know you but don’t have money growing from trees. You don’t buy a car without a testdrive, you can’t judge on the quality of a movie based on a brilliantly marketed teaser or trailer, you can’t judge a game on 5 minutes of gameplay and you can’t judge how good an album is on listening to 3 songs.

Yes, I do know stores like offer free listening services. And I know there are trials to games and programs. But again; in times when money doesn’t even seem to be growing from bushes anymore, how can you expect people to pay for stuff they don’t know?

Assuming anything different, acting upon those assumptions and expecting people to pay the full load -before- knowing the entire deal, is theft too.

I think someone needs to be the first one to say; “Hey guys. This going back and forth obviously isn’t working and we’re just accusing one another of theft, being greedy, being assholes, being bitches, whatnot. How about, we find a solution to this issue that works for both parties?”

The man who’s going to come up with the answers, is going to be rich. 


Sufi whirling is a mystical stress-away

Last summer I took a workshop at Halima’s Bellydance School in Eindhoven about Sufi Whirling. I didn’t quite know what to expect but it was something new to experience so it was harder to say no then to go ahead and enter. The workshop was part of a set of three workshops that were given to pass the summer whilst lessons were laid off until the end of summer. I never heard of Sufi Whirling before but little did I know I was about to experience something that’s quite literally a life changing experience for many people. As I walked into the room the teacher invited us to sit down on the pillows and armchairs in the Morrocan styled room. Christmas lights were sparkling brightly, soft humming music in the background. And she started to explain what we were about to do.

Sufi whirling (or Sufi spinning), (Arabic: الرقص الصوفي‎) is a form of Sama or physicaly active meditation which orginated among Sufis, and which is still practiced by the Sufi Dervishes of the Mevlevi order. It is a customary dance performed within the Sema, or worship ceremony, through which dervishes (also called semazens) aim to reach the source of all perfection, or kemal. This is sought through abandoning one’s nafs, egos or personal desires, by listening to the music, focusing on God, and spinning one’s body in repetitive circles, which has been seen as a symbolic imitation of planets in the Solar System orbiting the sun.

As explained by Sufis: “In the symbolism of the Sema ritual, the semazen’s camel’s hair hat (sikke) represents the tombstone of the ego; his wide, white skirt represents the ego’s shroud. By removing his black cloak, he is spiritually reborn to the truth. At the beginning of the Sema, by holding his arms crosswise, the semazen appears to represent the number one, thus testifying to God’s unity. While whirling, his arms are open: his right arm is directed to the sky, ready to receive God’s beneficence; his left hand, upon which his eyes are fastened, is turned toward the earth. The semazen conveys God’s spiritual gift to those who are witnessing the Sema. Revolving from right to left around the heart, the semazen embraces all humanity with love. The human being has been created with love in order to love. Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi says, “All loves are a bridge to Divine love. Yet, those who have not had a taste of it do not know!”

"All loves are a bridge to Divine love. Yet, those who have not had a taste of it do not know!"
"All loves are a bridge to Divine love. Yet, those who have not had a taste of it do not know!"

The quote above kind of says it all.. but I didn’t know that back then. To illustrate in motion what it is that I’m talking about, here’s a link to a youtube video: Sufi Whirling Dervishes

Prior to the workshop we’d gotten the information to bring 2 sets of clothes; one completely black and one completely white. Bit of an issue for me because I usually don’t wear a lot of whites but after some effort downtown I managed to obtain a lovely set consisting of a long white skirt and a wrapped top. The black was alright; it didn’t have to be quite all black so I just had to reach into my closet and take something out.

So there we sat with our clothes at hand. As we enjoyed some homemade delicacies and tea we got to understand that what we were about to do could look a little bit weird at first but it would be worth the experience. Some women in the group had already been to the workshop once before and nodded their agreement. The teacher explained it was a spiritual thing to do that could reach into the deepest of your soul and bring out all emotions if you were able to let go and go with the spinning motion and the music that would play in the background.

Then she explained the rules of the game we were about to play. Half the women in the room had to wear the black sets; these were going to be the accompanists, watching over the other half of the students dressed in white as they took their first steps into whirling.

We dressed up and got into appointed places, one accompanist matched with one spinner, neatly arranged across the floor. What the accompanists were supposed to do was help the spinners stay up straight. With both hands held out wide and facing towards the spinner they were going to send their energy and directions to support the spinner and help them to continue.

The women in white were explained what was expected of them too; they were told to hold one hand faced up towards the skies and one hand faced down towards the earth. As they would advance spinning, their focus should be on a ring on a finger or any other spot that would make focusing on one spot easy. And to find their own rhythm in the music. They didn’t have to be afraid but they did have to make sure they were doing it in their own pace for as long as they felt comfortable.

Reason for the teacher explaining this is that Sufi Whirling is a way to release stress or reach far into your deepest sense and emotions. Some people experience quite hefty emotions when they start spinning. Some may be merely impressed or in awe, others may be very thoughtful for a while. At the workshop I saw a woman who was completely distraught after a while. So distraught she broke out in tears and sat in one of the armchairs for a good half an hour just trying to recuperate. Heavy stuff, right?

Once everything was said and done the women in white started whirling carefully but quickly grew accustomed to their spinning trances. I say trances because it really is just that. Once you let go and start trusting your accompanist to guide you through, you can let go of fears and inhibitions. You concentrate on one spot on your hand and the world around you starts to face to grey with every so often a black spot flashing by in a clear moment. When you continue spinning, the entire room will become visible after a while quite brightly and though you won’t be looking at it, you will be aware of everything that’s going on. And at the same time, it will not matter. All that will matter is the motion of spinning, of the trance you find yourself in and how wonderful it feels to turn around so often and keep turning, keep spinning.

I spun for about 10 minutes after I gave up; I wasn’t entirely able to let myself go. My usual tendency to keep control at all costs interfered, unfortunately. But I tried it a few weeks later at home and it went a bit better there.

My friend whom I was accompanying spun for about 45 minutes. She didn’t feel it was that long, at all. That’s the strange thing in being in that trance; you don’t notice time anymore. You just get lost and let go.

Sufi Whirling at Mawlānā Rumi's tomb, Konya, Turkey
Sufi Whirling at Mawlānā Rumi's tomb, Konya, Turkey

The longest a woman spun in that class was one and a half hours. When you look at a video of Sufi Whirling it’s hard to imagine that this motion is so strong and captivating but to every one that is interested, I completely recommend visiting a workshop. Please be careful when you want to practice this at home though; without at least the first few times being accompanied, you might genuinely hurt yourself. It can be real hard not to slam into a wall.. Especially when you try to stop spinning! The women who spun for one and a half hours had serious issues stopping the whirling. She just couldn’t figure out how to do it. I know it sounds weird but that’s another truth of it; she genuinely couldn’t do it by herself and had to be helped by two others to come to a stand still. Partially because she’d gotten so used to the whirling motion but I think also because she simply didn’t really want to stop. Feeling good is addictive.

Once everyone had stopped and we’d all gotten our turns we sat down in the armchairs and on the pillows again and spoke about what had just happened. Unanimously we decided that this had been a mind altering experience. Words like “amazing”, “liberating” and “emotive” were used and we just couldn’t really grasp how it had played around with our beings. Once the daze of the trance had faded we drank some more tea. And eventually we returned to our homes again, feeling content and relieved of our stress.

Whenever I practice Sufi whirling at home these days I dance to “Semaname” by Mercan Dede (link to youtube). Obviously it’s not as quick paced as the music in the video I linked earlier but you have to use whatever you feel most comfortable with and I feel that if I’d use quicker music I’d literally spin out of control. I love how the narrator explains what Sufi Whirling does to him; it reminds me to why I do it too. His entire album “Sufi Traveler” (2004, link to is a wonderful musical journey to take. As I am not Turkish I don’t know about a lot of native Turkish music and I’m sure that some of my friends in that side of the world would be able to direct me to far more songs just as beautiful or far more beautiful. But until that happens I’ll recommend this! Coming year I’ll definitely join this workshop again to practice. I can’t wait.

If you are looking for more info on the history, the use and the idea behind Sufi Whirling please find out more on this wikipedia page.

One video to close this blogpost with: Sufi Whirling. Do you see the smile on her face and how relaxed and at ease it makes her feel? 🙂

Belly Dance Props – Veils

In a number of posts I will investigate a variety of belly dance props. Props are a wonderful way to add something special to your dancing, designed to dazzled and awe your audience. Aside from that they will force you to try out new ways of enhancing your dance. Different props have different effects and might require a different sort of dancing, a faster or slower rhythm or different costumes. In these posts I will explore where the to-be-described props originate from, how they are used and where they are used most commonly.

This entry is about veils. 


Photo and design by A’kai Silks


Another lovely prop to use is going to be a veil I think. I’ve already enjoyed a workshop about using veils and have had some lessons with them so I’ve had a little bit of a taste about the weight, length, possibilities and sheer beauty of using a veil.

Usually veils are used whilst dancing on slower music. Drum-solos or folkloric music just doesn’t suit. The veil moves with the speed of your own movement so you have to be careful not to take a piece of music that’s too fast or too much staccato. Any sort of music will do. Movie score soundtracks sound good (check out James Dooley or Globus; both names create movie score soundtracks that have yet to be used in movies. Extremely epic. Can you imagine yourself dancing to this?) and bands like Nightwish, Epica and Within Temptation might provide you with excellent tunes.. Personally I think I’m going to be using music from Emancipator for the first time I integrate the veil into a dance. This music sounds so mystical and beautiful, without becoming a “chore” if you catch my drift. Lots going on will invite me to do lots with the veil. For an idea of what I’m thinking of follow this link. I especially recommend the song “Ares” which in my opinion is just hauntingly beautiful.. Sounds good, right?

So where does Veil dancing come from? 

Interested as ever in why things come about and how things develop as being a “thing” to do, I’ve had a bit of a look into where veil dancing originates from. And this is what I found:

The use of veil in belly dancing was made popular by Samya Gamal (one of the bellydance legends during the first half of the XX century) who used the veil to improve her arms carriage. Since then, more and more belly dancers started using a veil as a prop. However, nowadays, in Egyptian belly dance style the veil is only used briefly at the start of the performance during the entrance. American dancers instead, have made an art of the veil as a prop. In American cabaret style the veil is used in a lot of different ways. Dancers usually enter on stage with the veil wrapped around their costume, which is then unwrapped and made to spin with dexterity. American belly dancers have also invented the use of two or multiple veils at the same time. (courtesy of

“Doing the burka” whilst making an entrance

So plenty of styles and techniques to look into. And over a wide spectrum of cultures too, which is always wonderful. The intro for a dance was already studied briefly during the workshop I followed. Depending on the effect you’d like to establish, you may start out with the veil being folded over your arms and face as if you were wearing a transparent burka. But there are also ways in which you make your veil to drape around you in a Greek-style dress over your shoulder, which you can then unwrap graciously during a subtle turning around. You can tuck the veil under your belt so it looks like just another addition to your skirt initially and suddenly; bam. Wings appear on both sides and there you are, ready to dazzle and stun your audience with your chin held high.

I’ve looked at many videos with gorgeous veil performances and these are some of my favorites:

Veil types and materials

There are various shapes, sizes and materials to choose from when you go buy yourself a veil. Depending on what you want to dance like or what you want to do, you should pick a different veil. The length of a veil is usually chosen according to the dancer’s height. Sometimes when the dancer is specifically trained to use veils he or she can use the extra long ones but more veil is more to handle so -I- not going to delve into that just yet. Maybe in a couple of years.

Veils can be rectangular which makes them more versatile in usage or semicircular which makes them a bit easier to use.

Now that’s working a veil like you mean it!

There are veils with sequined and plain hedges. I looked into that too and the difference is (plain logically to be honest) that the ones with sequined hedges don’t float so well. These veils are used in Egyptian cabaret style and are dropped after the first minutes of the performance. So not fit for spinning then.

Materials vary between silk, rayon chiffon, polyester chiffon or georgette. The cloth should be light enough to float gently in the air but they become more difficult to handle as they grow lighter so I’m going to have to make sure I know which cloth is a better beginners’ cloth. Silk is the most expensive type of of those but also the one that floats nicest. And of course the veil should be transparent enough to give the audience a glimpse of the gorgeous lady behind it.. To raise expectations to that which is about to appear.

That’s the entry about veils! It’ll be fun to practice with them. Next entry about props will be released soon but for now that’s enough studying in one day.