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Arabic club music takes off in New York

Syrian DJ Saphe has popular residency at New York club

A music venue and nightclub in Brooklyn, New York, is putting the spotlight on music from the Middle East and North Africa.

Laylit, or “the night of” in Arabic, is a party night at Elsewhere with Syrian resident DJ Saphe Shamoun.

Launched last October, the event had become popular, attracting over 800 people. On the bill, sets highlight Arabic pop, hip-hop, folk and electronic music.

A decade ago, it was practically unheard-of for a major New York club to regularly host a Middle Eastern-themed party. But now, Laylit is part of a thriving scene in Brooklyn that puts Middle Eastern and North African music front and centre.

“It’s beautiful to see the community coming together,” Egyptian hip-hop artist Felukah told the New York Times. “The sounds remind me of home.”

For some partygoers, nostalgia is the main attraction. Yet each event also looks toward the future, be it through challenging stereotypical notions of Middle Eastern culture or by championing inclusivity and progressive ideals.