Newcomer video showcases Windsor's riverfront to audience half a world away

Newcomer video showcases Windsor's riverfront to audience half a world away

It was a simple challenge from a friend in Palestine — make a dance video and post it on social media.

Mohammed Khudeish and Mohammed Rayyan, both newcomers to Windsor, Ont., knew right away they'd do dabke — a traditional Palestinian dance that combines circle and line dancing.

The backdrop for the video was Windsor's waterfront and the two believe that's what caught people's attention.  

"Oh my god, when people back home see the video they say 'bro where you dancing? You're dancing in some place that's really, really different,'" said Mohammed Rayyan. 

"I say 'Yeah that's Riverside in Windsor.' Everybody liked it."

The two men estimate their dabke dance video has been viewed more than 3,000 times, mainly by people in Palestine, including Rayyan's mother back home.

"My mother said 'Mohammed, take me please, take me,'" laughed Rayyan. "Everybody liked it."

Khudeish and Rayyan both grew up in the Palestinian city of Nablus and came to Windsor as refugees. Khudeish arrived eight months ago, Rayyan a few months before that.

The pair have known each other since they were nine and discovered dabke as kids.

When somebody goes to [be] married, we're dancing like this. Everybody doing that [dabke]. - Mohammed Rayyan

"We [saw] that and we say it's nice. We can do it... after that we try, try, try it together." said Khudeish.

"Dabke, dabke, dabke all the time. After that ... 8 years just dabke. [Nothing else], just dabke." 

Khudeish and Rayyan traveled with a troupe, performing dabke in Morocco, Norway, Sweden and Syria.

Khudeish and Rayyan are eager to do dabke in Windsor, but the city's Palestinian population is tiny. The pair say they'd be happy to teach in the city if there were any takers.