Monday, July 9, 2012



KABUL in Afghanistan is not the most likely place you would expect devotees of Antinous the Gay God to live. 

But the Beauteous Boy has devotees in every continent, in every major city. 

So why not Kabul? After all, many Afghanis are proud to be descendants of the soldiers led by Alexander the Great. And many Macedonian traditions live on such as men dancing with other men.

We like to get mail from far-flung adherents of Antinous. Here's an exclusive report from our Kabul correspondent Ariana Kabuli, a native Texan who now calls Kabul home, and who says that summer is the best time for male/male wedding dancing.


There is nothing Afghan men and boys love more than attending a wedding. They often attend three or four a month during the spring and summer months. 

During this time the numerous wedding halls of Kabul are packed on a Friday night. These wedding halls are generally large six story buildings, ornately decorated (some would say tacky) and brightly lit with colored lights. 

Wedding parties in Afghanistan are strictly segregated by sex. A very tall wall is placed across the center of the hall and several hundred men are on one side and several hundred women on the other. Sometimes the women are on different floors or even different buildings! 

So if you want to see a huge variety of freshly scrubbed and decked out Afghan men and only men, attend a wedding. And, oh, what men you’ll see! I’ve taken a turn or two around the globe and I have never come across a more consistently handsome and noble looking group of ponies and stallions as Afghans. A mélange of races and cultures and peoples across the millennia have come together and voila those emerald green eyes with tinges of silver set off by skin as smooth and honey brown as the finest marzipan….sigh.
At a wedding reception in Afghanistan, various groups with a kinship get up and dance as a tribute and congratulations to the groom. Groups might be co-workers, cousins or relatives from a particular village. 

The dances last around 20 minutes and with multiple groups, the dancing can go on for hours. The 15 or so men get in a large circle and dance together in front of the several hundred other men in the room. 

Who knew years of clubbing were not wasted, but prepared me for dancing in a room full of men? Afghan dancing is lots of arms and hands flowing, spinning about and shaking your hips to that tantric beat of the East. 

The music is trance-like techno tabla. It puts me in mind of ecstatic Sufi twirling. 

I had been to a few weddings before and each time wished I had the nerve to get up in front of 400 Afghans and dance. I love to dance, but being the only white dude in the room, (if not building or entire block) you are kind of hard to miss and the craggy old men with long white beards in traditional tribal garb would be judging with a sharp eye and tendency towards harshness. Then again, there is jumping around with a lot of hot, sweaty men….
My Afghan mates and me come up from the parking lot, climb four flights of stairs and enter the large hall. Immediately the boys from Panjshir grab me and force me onto the dance floor. It is our turn to dance. 

I looked up and countless pairs of eyes looked on in astonishment. The children and young men were delighted, the older perplexed and surprised. Fortunately for me, I had spent a good deal of time dancing to Afghan music in front of a mirror in my room. 

We started up and it was exhilarating! It was kind of a big deal for an American to be in the circle and all the men and boys wanted to have some time dancing with me. Heaven. 

I just got lost in the music and the movement, sweat and the ecstatic energy of the group dancing together. 30 minutes later we were done, soaked through and laughing, having brought down the house. 

Now I know how Madonna feels most days. As we made our way through the crowd to our table, I got many smiles and nods of approval and encouragement. 

I acquitted myself well, I am told, but, whatever the case, I had a blast and an unforgettable experience out dancing with the boys in Kabul ....

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