Hastings is to host the UK’s first ever Palestine on the Pier – a celebration of the best of Palestinian culture including food, music, dance, storytelling, handicraft and children’s activities. The free, daytime event on 5th September is jointly hosted by Hastings & Rye Palestine Solidarity Campaign (HRPSC) and the pier management team, Hastings Pier Entertainment Ltd.

“We are very excited to be throwing this amazing event on Hastings’ iconic, award winning pier,” said HRPSC Chair Katy Colley.  “We invite everyone to step onto the pier and spend the day experiencing the culture of another country: tasting the food, listening to the music, watching the traditional dancing and hearing the stories. There is even a dabke dance workshop for people to learn the joyful, uplifting dance themselves. Covid restrictions mean many of us aren’t taking foreign holidays this year so it will be a unique opportunity to immerse ourselves in another culture without leaving our shores.”

Dabke dancing

The event – from 12 noon to 6pm – will transform the top deck of the pier with stalls selling authentic Palestinian food such as falafel, hummus and baba ghanoush wraps, as well as sweet delicacies like baklava and knafeh. There will also be stalls selling beautiful hand embroidered craft such as purses, bags, keffiyeh scarves, wall hangings, olive wood bowls, necklaces, hair clips, brooches, bookmarks and flags.

Meanwhile, children’s activities and craft will run towards the back end of the top deck. Throughout the day, there will be a rolling programme of entertainment including a storyteller, music on the oud and percussion and a dance show by the Hawiyya dance company. “We are thrilled to join a celebration of Palestinian culture at Palestine on the Pier,” said Serena Spadoni, member of the Hawiyya Dance Company. “Dabke is a powerful dance that connects people while carrying a strong political and cultural meaning of resistance. It is rooted in the land and is an evolving art form that maintains its strong traditional roots. Our performance will take the audience on a journey through the narratives of identity, displacement and resistance with the use of dabke and contemporary forms. We also look forward to sharing our platform and dancing together with participants.”

Guests will also be treated to traditional Arabic folk songs performed live on the oud and drums by renowned Brighton-based musicians Jamal and Alaa. Before coming to the UK, Jamal spent 40 years of his life in Syria and vocalist, and oud-player Alaa is from a famous musical family and has played the oud and sang for 25 years. They have performed together since January 2017 and proved a big hit at Hastings Come Dine for Palestine fundraiser in September 2019.

Katy added: “despite living under military occupation, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza enjoy a rich culture and history. We feel Hastings is the best place to launch Palestine on the Pier since it has a tremendous openness to other cultures, not to mention an unrivalled sense of fun. This may be the first, but we know it won’t be the last – perhaps there will be a similar event on every one of the 56 piers in the UK!”

For more details visit HRPSC website www.hastingspalestinecampaign.org or Facebook

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