Friday,22 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1404, (2 - 8 August 2018)
Friday,22 February, 2019
Issue 1404, (2 - 8 August 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Keke mania

Keke mania has been hitting Egypt, creating a frenzy among its followers that has raised concerns over public safety, writes Ameera Fouad


Keke mania

The pop star Drake may never have believed that his song “In My Feelings”, known as the Keke Challenge, would become the world’s number one and ruffle feathers all over the world, including in Egypt and the Middle East. It has even made people dance while walking in the street or sitting inside their cars.

It was not the Canadian rapper who prompted the craze for dancing in the streets or jumping out of a moving car to break into a dance, however. Instead, it was the Internet comedian Shiggy who created the Keke mania by posting himself dancing in the streets to Drake’s track with the hashtag #ShiggyChallenge, his moves syncing to the lyrics.

In just one day, the video went viral reaching seven million viewers. A few days later, US football star Odell Beckham Jr joined the challenge and posted a video of himself dancing while stepping out of his stationary car. From that post onwards, no one really knows where the cars started moving from or how many people are now dancing.

Did the song create the mania, or was it the Internet and social media that created the Keke mania? No other period has witnessed the globalised world coming together around a single song, doing the same dances and mimicking the same moves. The Internet has smashed all former records, with viewers on all social-media platforms joining in, including celebrities like Will Smith, Ciara and Lara, also joining the challenge with the hashtags #KEKE Do you love me?  

“Keke, do you love me? Are you riding? Say you’ll never ever leave from beside me. Cause I want ya, and I need ya, and I’m down for you always.” The song’s lyrics have become a meme worldwide, with many caring less about Keke and more about dancing in the streets and sharing their videos on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

The Arab world has followed the Internet sensation around the song, especially in Egypt. Celebrities and laymen alike have shared their love of dancing in the streets despite the fact that in Egypt this can be precarious, especially when hopping out of a car and dancing to a song while another car is moving alongside.

Many Egyptians of different social classes have become attached to the song, Egyptianising and Arabising it according to their tastes. Stars have also joined the challenge, with Egyptian national football team captain Essam Al-Hadari and actresses Dina Al-Sherbini, Dorra and Yasmine Raais joining the bandwagon and adding their own spin to the challenge by dancing to the Egyptian songs they love.

One Egyptian girl, Sara, posted a video showing her mother shouting at her in the car, and this has scored millions of likes and given rise to myriads of comments and followers on social media about how Egyptian mothers could be afraid for their daughters’ safety or reputation if seen dancing.

Sara Sabri, the veiled Egyptian girl, took up the challenge when her mother was driving the car, but “the challenge did not go as planned,” she wrote on her Instagram account at

Shiggy and Drake started the viral craze

People have long looked forward to dancing to each summer’s new hit worldwide. From Macarena by Los Del Ri in the 1990s to last year’s hit Despastio by Luis Fonsi and this year’s In My Feelings by Drake, there is always one song each year that can drive people crazy. Every year, there is a battle to see which song can claim the title of “the song of the summer” in Egypt with a strong competition between Arab and international songs.

However, this year’s Keke challenge may have transcended all class or cultural barriers to reach everyone in Egypt from those who wear the traditional galabeya (robe) to the upper-middle classes.

Ahmed Hassan, a social media activist and blogger, is one of the many who have taken advantage of the mania and shared a video about the Keke challenge. “Keke, as an Arabic word, has several interpretations, and I played with language to produce a sarcastic video about the dance and the challenge,” Hassan told Al-Ahram Weekly.

His video had almost two million views in the first 24 hours. However, “I do not like the challenge, and this is why I made fun of the whole Keke mania by creating a simple story of a couple who might break up because of a dance” (at

Many men would not allow their partners to dance in the streets in a Keke challenge or in any other place in public. “We are in a conservative country. It is not only about dancing in streets, but also about sharing your videos with millions of strangers worldwide,” newly engaged Ali Abdel-Razek said.

While his fiancée disagreed with him on the basis that women were equal to men, saying that “if you are allowed to dance, I should also be allowed to dance,” she also commented on the risks involved. Yosr Asaad, a sociologist, said that “no one can resist dancing. Even babies dance when you play music. It is a passion stimulated by rhythm, which is why you can’t help your body moving.”

“Egyptians love dancing. They take to the streets in football matches and revolutions alike, and they dance. Sometimes we forget that we all love dancing, and I am not surprised that we have taken this song to a totally new level,” Asaad said.

Meanwhile, the government is worried that the new craze might lead to serious accidents. Though nothing has been reported so far, it has issued warnings to citizens to stop dancing in the streets. The Interior Ministry warned on Monday against performing the Keke challenge on the roads.

 Kuwait, Oman, the UAE, Palestine, India, Malaysia, Spain and Saudi Arabia have also issued official warnings to their citizens to avoid dancing in the streets as a result of fears over public safety.

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