If you’ve ever checked out my YouTube page or been to a Greek event, then you’ve heard the word Ζεϊμπέκικο zebekiko or or Zeh-beh-kee-koh.

For those of you that need timing: with a rhythmic pattern of 9/4 or else 9/8 (broken down as 1/8 + 1/16 + 1/16 + 1/8 + 1/8 + 1/8 + 1/16 + 1/16 + 1/8 + 1/8 + 1/8)

Most of the time zebekiko is done as a free-form dance. There are no true steps or patterns to follow. Traditionally it has been performed mostly by men but more recently, women have joined in. In some ways, it is the slower counterpart to the tsifteteli or bellydance. I have seen bellydancers use zebekiko songs as slow moving or a veil song which is ok but it’d be nice to see them acknowledge the traditional form.

baltimore belly dancer, belly dancer baltimore, bellydance by amartia

Even though there is no set pattern, there is typically a lot of arm and hand waving as well as lifts and kicks. It’s a good way for a dancer to show coordination and balance. Occasionally dancers will perform acrobatic feats such as standing on a glass of wine or a chair or balancing a glass upon their heads.

When performed sometimes others form a circle around with the dancer in the middle and people take turns being in the middle. Those on the outer circle clap and shout out words of encouragement.

Because of the looseness of form it is sometimes thought of as the “drunken dance.” True, there are instances where those performing are quite inebriated but that is not always the case. It is purest form the zebekiko is an expression of the emotion and agility of he or she who is performing it.

So go out and try it yourself, send me video! I’d love to see it!