Title

Dancing Boys

Document Type

Article

Department

Dance (Pomona), Theatre (Pomona)

Publication Date

2000

Keywords

European observer, youth, performance, comedy, eroticism

Abstract

The informal, and occasionally formal, institution of the dancing boy--the term used by most Western writers in their descriptions of the Islamic world--has been attested for centuries by European observers throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, as well as the Indian subcontinent and throughout the Islamic areas of Southeast Asia such as Indonesia and the southern Philippines. These individuals have been called by a variety of names: bachchec [batcha], literally "child" in Persian and some Turkish languages, luti (itinerant performer), raqqas (dancer) in many regions, kocek (little) and tavsan (rabbit) in Ottoman Turkey, khawal in Egypt, as well as less specific designations such as khanith and mukhannas [mukkannath] (from the same Arabic root) in many areas of the Arab world, and hajira in Pakistan and India, which also geerally designated passive, sometimes castrated homosexuals who were, in many instances, expected to dance and entertain. The specific terms used for these entertainers depend on the linguistic and cultural areas in which they were found. These generally young dancers invariably had in common that they were viewed by their contemporaries as being available as passive sexual partners, generally for financial reward. Although many sources stress the extreme youth of these performers, it is known that these men danced well into their late twenties and even much later. The word dancer might be better rendered as performer, because these two young males, who were often highly skilled in their art, sang, played instruments, performed gymnastic and highly acrobatic movements, mimed, clowned, and acted, as well as danced.

Comments

Copyright Garland Science © 2002 From "Dancing Boys" in Gay Histories and Cultures: An Encyclopedia, pps. 239-240, by Anthony Shay. Reproduced by permission of Taylor and Francis Group, LLC, a division of Informa plc.

This material is strictly for personal use only. For any other use, the user must contact Taylor & Francis directly at this address: permissions.mailbox@taylorandfrancis.com. Printing, photocopying, sharing via any means is a violation of copyright.

This article is also available from Garland Science at: https://www.routledge.com/Encyclopedia-of-Lesbian-and-Gay-Histories-and-Cultures/Haggerty-Zimmerman/p/book/9780815333548

Rights Information

© 2000 Garland Science