Jewish Maghrib Jukebox

Monday, January 7, 2013

Singing the Scandalous: Mini Skirts in Moroccan Jewish Song

Esther Elfassy. Mini. Koliphone. 1960s?
--> Jewish Morocco is back for 2013. Lots of big changes are in store over the next few months. In the meantime, some new music is in order. I wanted to start off the New Year with something dynamo, a selection to get everyone off their feet. As this blog has revealed, North African music has never shirked from addressing the most taboo of topics in song. In fact, drugs, politics, and sex have been dealt with extensively since the very first recordings were made in the Maghreb.  
Moroccan Jewish musicians continued this tradition upon arrival in Israel. Jo Amar sang about discrimination, Sami Amar chanted about war, Judah Assaraf weighed in on politics, Maurice Lusky satirized drinking, and Petit Armand revealed the trappings of family life.  Searching through my record collection for this post I discovered a particularly curious phenomenon in light of the propensity of these pop stars to take on anything and everything. To my delight, the mini skirt came up (pardon the pun) in chanson after chanson. Even the universally respected Sliman Elmaghribi, the subject of a future post, weighed in on the fashion phenomenon.
Sliman Elmaghribi. Mini. Zakiphone. 1960s.
Moroccan Jews were not alone in taking up the cause of or against the mini skirt. Whether or not they knew it, Jews were often “singing in unison” with their North African Muslim counterparts, who addressed skirt length in countless records.
Salem Djilali. Atagua Mini Jupe. Boussiphone. 1960s (c/o Toukadime)
So without further ado, I present you with Mini by Esther Elfassy. the Moroccan-born, Israel-reared chanteuse who has been featured on this blog before. Elfassy provides us with what may be the definitive Arabic ode to the mini skirt. Take a listen to her 1970s hit (written by Moshe Ben Hamo, recorded in Jaffa, and pressed in Holon) below and pass along.