Dancing in Tehran.
(photo credit: screenshot)
In Iran, dancing as a hobby is becoming increasingly popular. The surge in interest in the sport is making it difficult for the strict Islamic regime to impose its rules on its citizens. The regime upholds religious standards for the people of Iran, such as what is appropriate behavior between the two genders. Dancing together is not allowed.
Because the state’s Islamic morality codes forbid women and men who are not related from congregating in private, dance classes are not openly advertised. News of classes is spread by word of mouth, and participants then bring along their friends and families.
Instructors also use closed Facebook groups to advertise classes and to gauge interest in a particular class. However, even on Facebook they do not disclose the address of the dance studio, and instead ask those interested to contact them directly for more details.
In many cases, families are not against their children dancing, but don't want them to take the risk of attending underground classes.
Most classes are held in private homes or buildings, with trainers turning a conference space or parking garage into a studio by installing mirrors on the walls. Many hold classes in their living rooms.
On a recent evening at a highly-guarded location in north Tehran, a group of young men and women gathered to practice something exciting but highly illegal: the tango. In recent years, a dance class craze has swept the middle class and wealthier neighborhoods of Iran’s cities, with young Iranians eagerly signing up to learn the samba, salsa, zumba, tango and other passionate dances like hip-hop and belly dance.
But dance classes are not always underground. Many dance instructors register their classes at gyms and teach under the name of aerobics. The authorities have turned a blind eye to these studios and don’t seem to object to physical exercise combined with some music, as long as men and women do not mix.