Saturday, December 08, 2012

Apache (Apaçi) Kurdish Turkish dance. Or is it?

Young Turkish Kurds (reportedly from Ağrı, near the border with Iran) doing 'Apache (apaçi) dancing' (a Turkish subcultural dance style) to a song by the Mehmet Ali Arslan Grup. Well, I assume they are Kurds. (Turks and Azeris also live in Ağrı.)

A comment on a blog that discusses "Apache dancing" tries to explain:

Actually "apaçi" is a trending word in Turkish slang. It is used when describing uneducated and wannabe young people that has immigrant parents and live in suburbs of big cities like Istanbul, Ankara or Izmir. These young people can never completely integrate themselves to the city life because of their origins and that's why they have a "mutant" style, a bit from city life and a bit from their conservative family life.

"Apaçi dance" term came up from a dance style that is performed by these apaçi people when they're in a clubs :)

It's seems then that apaçi is a pejorative term used to describe young Kurds in Turkey. A term of denigration that, perhaps, young Kurds have embraced and attempted to detourn?

A friend who is in Alanya, Turkey, which is far from Turkey's eastern border but has lots of workers from the east, says "the young men with those kinds of hairstyles (standing up in the middle, lots of gel, long on the sides and back, etc) call their style 'apache'."

Meanwhile, as far as I can determine, Mehmet Ali Arslan is from Northeastern Turkey (near Ardahan) and the music may have Georgian, Azeri and Iraqi (Kurdish) influences. (I used Google translate to try to make sense of this.)  

Interestingly, the dance performed above is very similar to the dance performed in the video below. This is from Iranian Kurdistan. Fatima Al Qadiri has written about it here. Not very informatively, as she doesn't even mention that the singer, Mehdi Alizadeh, is from Iran. He is really great, no? 

So maybe (as Sherifa has noted in a bit of conversation about this on FB), there isn't any specific "Apache" dance tradition, so much as it is a matter of apaçi-s who are doing it.

Here's another Mehdi Alizadeh vid.

Who knows, maybe this is more like what Apaçi dance is supposed to be:


hannah draper said...

Hmm, I saw plenty of apacis when I was in Istanbul, but I don't recall people ever categorically calling them Kurds. I think plenty were Kurds, but a lot were from non-Kurdish towns as well, such as along the Black Sea coast. (In fact, when someone first explained to me what an apaci was, they said that most were from the northern coast.)

soyawi said...

Hey, I really enjoyed this post! Both Mehmet Grup & Mehdi Alizadeh are off the chain! That relentless synth line in the background...

This reminds me of one of my favourite dancing videos from Azerbaijan:

My friend in Baku explained how Turkey and Azerbaijan are like brothers. But also that Turks think of Azeris as backward "hillbillies", & Azeris don't understand why Turks are so eccentric in their fashion style ie men with piercings in their ears...

Given that and the dance moves being so similar, () I could speculate these Azeri kids are being Apaci without even knowing it! Either way I'm glad these kids are sharing the shapes they like to make on their respective d-floors.