Camels, Spices, and…Hip Hop Dancers?

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Before coming on this trip, I had a picture in my head of what Morocco was going to be like. I saw rolling hills of sand, camels everywhere, market stalls divided by cloth walls. What I actually found was bustling cities with rundown stone sidewalks where you had to watch your step for fear of breaking an ankle. There were cars that zoomed by with no rhyme or reason to the speed limit or lanes. I found small convenience stores where I had to buy water, there was no oasis. Even though this world was not what I had imagined, it was still new and different. I still knew that I was away from home. I couldn’t speak Darija with the locals. Women on the streets wore a jellaba and a hijab. Men whistled and made kissing noises as I passed on the street. I couldn’t understand the advertisements for ice cream that were in all of the convenience stores.

After having my ideas about Morocco crushed right before my very eyes, I tried not to have any expectations about our meetings with the students from the local university. I knew that any of my made up scenarios would go up in smoke and there is only so much of that feeling you can take on one trip. You can imagine what a shock it was to find people in Morocco who danced hip hop. “Hip hop is American!” screamed my brain as I watched these talented men dance. The fact that hip hop was in Morocco, an ocean and a continent away from my home was disconcerting.

We had talked about transnationalism in class in Granada, but it was completely different seeing it firsthand. The fact that dance could cross an ocean and take root in this exotic place is astounding! I could see the passion these men had for their art in their eyes. When we attended the auditions for a competition a few days later, I was even more impressed by these young people’s dedication. They have the courage to get up on stage and freestyle. There were no carefully practiced routines when I was there. On the stage, it was just the man and the music. Having never seen hip hop in the United States, I cannot say if we have the same passion or not. Regardless the fact that these people could find passion in something that came from so far away is admirable. Hip hop in Morocco, who’d have thought!

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