Posted on 28/12/2017 by siteadmin

Hafla – Definition & Etiquette

I love haflas!

I have been to hundreds over the years.  From small local events with 20 or so women ……. to bigger events with a few hundred.  So, how do you define a hafla – and what makes a good one?

Hafla – Arabic for ‘Party’.  Haflas in the UK have become more about performing.  A chance for classes to show the choreography they have learnt through the term.  An opportunity for soloists to strut their stuff!  From those new to performing to experienced professionals.  For me, a hafla should be about inclusivity and encouragement.  It is also important to allow time to boogie.  Time for social dancing.  No choreography to think about – just have a bop with your friends.

What makes a good hafla?

  • Friendly atmosphere
  • Well organised
  • Good balance of performing and boogie time
  • Runs on time
  • Good range of music to dance to
  • Good range of performances
  • Good sound quality / volume
  • The space / venue is set out well to create a good atmosphere
  • The organiser/s are friendly and helpful

I have not only been to many haflas over the years, but organised many too.  I love going to other peoples haflas that are well organised.  I hate it when things run late and are chaotic.  I love watching the performances – whatever level of experience, there is always something to enjoy.  As an organiser, you have to think of all aspects of the event and ensure they run smoothly.  I have been to some haflas that consistently run late / are badly organised.  I’ll go a second time to support it but if nothing has improved, I will not go back.  If I pay money for a ticket, I have certain expectations.  Even charity events should be run well – if you volunteer to run a charity event then you need to be well organised.  Some haflas are more community events where everyone mucks in – these are often chaotic but in a good natured everyone working together sort of way that I quite like.  They are the exception that proves the rule.

When is a hafla not a hafla?
When it is a showcase ……. when it is all about performing and not about having a social boogie.

Onto Hafla Etiquette

When students go to their first hafla, they are not sure what to expect and it is up to more experienced hafla goers to help set the tone.  It can also be useful, if there is a programme, to put a section in about hafla etiquette.  Or, for the compere to encourage the audience to be supportive.  At haflas, many of the audience will also be performers – so balancing performing needs and audience expectations needs consideration.

  • Non performers
  • Be encouraging of performers
  • Clap, zhagreet, smile
  • Have a boogie in the breaks
  • Be inclusive – if someone is there by themselves, make the effort to include them
  • Have fun
  • Performers
  • Be encouraging of other performers
  • Allow yourself enough time to get ready before your performance – but don’t go too early or you will miss some performances
  • Get changed quickly and rejoin the audience once you have finished
  • Remember haflas are about sharing and supporting everyone
  • Have a boogie in breaks – use them as a way of warming up before you perform
  • Give other performers a bit of space in the changing area and always be friendly
  • Enjoy performing …. and enjoy the other performances too
  • Have fun

Watching dance is a great way of learning.  A great way of getting new ideas and new inspiration.  There seems to be an unfortunate trend of people only going to things that they are performing at.  I notice that sometimes performers barely leave the changing room and hardly see any other dancers.  I understand that some people need some space to get over their performance nerves ….. absolutely fine.  But when you have danced, go and support the other performers.
Most haflas – and showcases, the performers make up 50% of the audience – so if everyone stayed in the changing room, it would make for a very small audience.
If you go and see a show …. as opposed to a hafla or showcase, this is different.  The performers are backstage and the audience out front.

So, next time you go to a hafla think of all the points above and be as supportive of everyone as you can.  If you are organising a hafla – think of how you can create a great hafla that will have people coming back every time.

These are my thoughts on the matter …. purely subjective.  If you there are aspects I have missed, drop us a line and I’ll add them in.  Kay

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