Faten Omar

Missy Elliott sang, “Music makes you lose control, music makes you lose control.” Music does make you lose control, but it does make you want to move, to dance, to sway. So imagine going to music concert and not being able to dance? That is the situation in Kuwait, where public dancing and mixed dancing are forbidden.

You can enjoy the music at the concert but without dancing, swaying or “floating”. Easy, right? Wrong! I recently got a warning by an organizer at a concert for “chair dancing”, which she said is strictly forbidden. She rebuked me for spontaneously dancing because I lost control and surrendered to the melodies of the music by my favorite singer! So is it allowed to dance secretly?

What is the point of organizing concerts, inviting famous singers from all over the world and allowing them to play music loudly and in public, but the audience is not allowed to dance? It has been said that music is food of the soul. So how can you control enjoying your favorite food of music when it runs through your veins and takes over your body?!

Kuwait is among some Arab countries where people are forbidden by law to dance in public places. When attending a concert or performance in Kuwait, there is very limited movement allowed. There is no crowd crazily jumping and moving. And forget about head-banging. The only thing similar to dancing that people are allowed to do at concerts is clapping, but slowly and gently.

But it turns out that Kuwait and some Arab countries are not the only ones that take a strict view towards dancing in public. Europe is not always all fun and games. At the beginning of the four-day Easter weekend, it is illegal to dance in public for the full day in 12 out of 16 states in Germany, with the remaining four enforcing a partial ban during the day. Some states take the religious festival more seriously than others, such as Bavaria, where any kind of music – even in bars – is forbidden.

In Sweden, public dancing is prohibited no matter the season. Bars, clubs and restaurants require a license to enable patrons to dance. Luckily, the law doesn’t apply to tourists, but it is funny that restaurant or bar owners can be charged for ‘illegal dancing’.

In 2015, Japan lifted a 67-year-old ban on dancing, to the delight of the nation’s clubbers. The ban forbade public dancing unless the venue had a license, and even licensed premises had to stop all dancing by midnight. Despite the law, dancing, even after midnight, was tolerated in the second half of the 20th century, with police turning a blind eye to the hard-to-enforce law that was routinely flouted.

By Faten Omar