Raving in Ramallah: How underground music is bringing Palestinians together

The story of the first ever Boiler Room set on Palestinian territory, and what this could mean for the DJs and producers who come from there. By Megan Townsend

Saturday 02 February 2019 11:54
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Rapper and member of hip hop collective Saleb Wahad spits some bars during Boiler Room’s debut broadcast from the West Bank
Rapper and member of hip hop collective Saleb Wahad spits some bars during Boiler Room’s debut broadcast from the West Bank

“There aren’t many visitors to Palestine, it’s not that easy for them to come,” says Sama, a pioneering DJ from the West Bank, talking over feverish industrial techno and contrasting footage of quiet cosmopolitan streets. “Everybody feels like it’s a war zone, so there’s no eagerness... It’s not like Berlin, you know.”

Plagued with demolition threats, violent clashes with Israeli authorities and political upheaval, the occupied territories are scarcely out of the headlines. But all that seems far away in this sunny courtyard in Ramallah.

It was a June afternoon and the crowds didn’t seem concerned with the news; this is the first time Boiler Room, the most-watched underground music channel in the world, has broadcast from Palestinian territory. The first set of the day, from the Haifa-based Jazar Crew, sees a brightly dressed and fashionable bunch surrounding the decks. Dancing directly behind the DJs is a woman staring straight at the camera wearing a mesh see-through top and a niqab. It doesn’t look like a war zone. It looks like a really great party.

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