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Song of freedom: On the occasion of 127 educational research alternative rock concert

By Roya Monajem, Tehran


One of the main differences between old Persians and new Persians is that the former used every opportunity to hold feasts and celebrate life while the latter do exactly the opposite. That is why we call ourselves ‘worshippers of the dead’ among ourselves. The fact that certain people use every opportunity to mourn in itself shows that these people are not happy; they are ‘spiritually’ depressed. And a nation can become spiritually depressed if and when they live in the cold suffocating air of autocracy for many centuries.


127 Music Band


It was a couple of years ago when I desperately wished to open a disco for the female sex here in Tehran. Mr. Khatami, the Islamic reformist politician was still the President and there were even a couple of official dance classes which made my wild crazy idea sound less outrageous. In this way “poor” female sex deprived of most recreational activities that the male sex enjoyed would have somewhere to go, pass time more constructively and perhaps even be healed of the above mentioned Persian historical type of depression.


In reality, a disco for the female sex alone could not be any crime or irreligious un-Islamic act. The most would be to find a ‘permissible’ name for it which is in fact how many traditional religious prohibitions were treated in the past quarter of century here. They were ‘re-baptized,’ thus legitimized under a new name. In a way, it seems what the Islamic world is experiencing intensively since the rise of Islamic Republic is more or less similar to what the Judo Christian world went through centuries ago; that is there has been a fierce struggle among clergies of how to introduce proper reformations that would help to adapt Islam to the needs of time in order to ‘save’ it. Religion as one of the most effective instruments of power is not something that power-seeking people would perhaps ever overlook, unless other more effective ‘modes of production’ of division, prejudice, hatred among people of the same and different nations in favor of the same power-seeking individuals and against humanity are invented. From one perspective the present world with all its different religions, each with its own god that in reality should be our common creator, but appears different in various religions, is not very different from the Greek mythological Olympia. It seems there is a limit to human visualization and creativity!


Talking about creativity, it seemed we just needed to create a good religious name for our disco in order to achieve our aim. ‘The house of emotional healing’ seemed perfect. It was not that big of a lie either. Like any other sports, dancing increases the level of opiates in our blood. And everybody knows that opiates in the form of medicine are good for many physical and psychological disturbances including depression. Let’s emphasize on the phrase ‘opiates as medicine,’ because use of opiates in the form of drug abuse only increases this depression. And here is a very simple reason for such unprecedented number of Persians getting addicted to opium. It is like a desperate way to escape that deeply rooted historical depression and consequent passiveness, indifference and despair.


To dance for several hours if not every day, but once or twice a week, can be as refreshing as swimming, mountain climbing, jogging and many other similar physical activities. And for the young generation, it is naturally more appealing. Let us not forget the fact that dancing was one of the first human artistic physical activities with a history much longer than any other the so-called ‘sports.’ And like any other sport or physical activities, it can help to keep young people away from drug abuse. Not only that, but it can reduce the need for anti-depressants, particularly if instead of alcoholic drinks, medical herbal tonics are served which was what I was planning to do in our disco; Persian treasury of medicinal herbs is one of the richest in the world. And each time I imagined such a disco serving therapeutic herbal tonics instead of spirits, i.e. alcoholic drinks, a smile immediately appeared on my lips because medical herbal tonics and alcoholic drinks are both called the same in Persian: aragh. which also means essence.


Yet, as everybody may guess, there was little hope for that dream of mine, i.e. opening such a disco for the female sex, to be actualized in our Islamic Republic of Iran; although – at least to some faithful Moslems – not only there was nothing irreligious in such an act, but could bring about many socially healthy consequences, one of which was explained above - dancing can effectively decrease the need for anti-depressants and drug abuse. In addition, dancing can also be an effective emotional catharsis or cleansing whose importance in psychological therapies is becoming increasingly evident.


What I saw in that ‘sweet dream’ was a group of women rushing home from our disco radiating in an emotionally and mentally lighter, jollier, healthier mood. Naturally the whole family will to some extent cheer up as the result. All emotional psychological moods are contagious, particularly among people living under the same roof. In this way, rays of happiness and health could spread from these women to their families.


But what exactly made me to wake up from that sweet dream was the spread of the news that apparently certain high clergies in the city of Qom had announced that women (including girls over nine years old; i.e. the age of Islamic initiation for the female sex) are not allowed to dance in the presence of anybody, even other females, except their husbands!


What a shame! It seems nothing can be done to improve this nightmarish depressing atmosphere that we have been allowing to rule us for so many centuries or to be more exact since our first progenitors Adam and Eve were driven out of Heaven and condemned to live a life of pain and suffering as major existing religions with Middle-Asian origin (i.e. Judaism, Christianity, Islam), except Zoroastrianism believe.


Today, a couple of years later, while dancing (sorry I should say doing ‘rhythmic movements’) all alone (to make sure that I am not committing any crime), the recent news of ‘wearing chador is perhaps going to become compulsory’ keeps crossing my mind? A quarter century ago, when a good part of Persian population were still deprived of electricity, no matter how much the same group of clergies wished to enforce the same law, they failed. Would they succeed this time, a quarter of century later when access to the outside world has become uncontrollable with the advent of internet and satellite dishes which are now even found in our villages and the most traditional parts of our cities and even in our religious cities? What will I do if this happens? Would I go on living as in the past as though nothing has happened?


What can I do, except to wait and see what I will do, if such nightmare comes true! Meanwhile I see no other ‘healthy’ solution other than to keep on dancing and stay in the mystical ‘here and now’ or ‘haal’ in Persian, for one simple reason and the ‘hope’ that the above nightmarish news can be a rumor. After all, sweet dreams and nightmares share one common characteristic, and that is they both happen when we are asleep.


And when we are asleep, it makes no difference in which country we are living, in the present Islamic Republic of Persia under the Presidency of Mr. Ahmadinejad, or in USA under the presidency of Mr. Bush, to name a couple. I just know that I don’t want to think anything negative particularly these days when I am going to go to an “Educational, Research Concert” performed by an alternative-rock band called ‘127’ at a private music school. Can you imagine going to an alternative- rock concert in Tehran?



How exciting to have somewhere like this to go on a Thursday night, which is like Saturday nights in the Christian World! What a blessing!


“I am a terrorist,

Though I haven’t killed anyone yet…”


Sings the lead singer and first guitarist of the group.


 “We appear on their TV shows like creatures from another planet.

If they ever knock on my door, it is just for the oil

Or mysteries left from my ancient parents…” [1]


I get lost in one of the piano-solo parts and wake up with the loud cry of music, this time the lead singer singing:


“I am a fundamentalist

I have a gun…

“I am a reformist

I talk of sweet dreams and ideals…”


My heart starts beating hard. Not only as the result of the good music that fills the air, but out of fear. You, our common creator, would you do something this ‘educational research concert’ ends in peace! It was only a few days ago that the new President forbade playing Western music from our national TV.


Once again the singer comes to my help to stop ‘negative thoughts’ dancing in my head.


“…I had a song for freedom I’ve forgotten it,

A song for freedom, do you remember it?...”

“…I had a soul for freedom, I’d recover that.

My song of freedom I’ll discover that.”


The concert is over safe and sound. Back to the same apathetic ordinary life, while murmuring


I had a soul for freedom,

Would I recover that?

My song of freedom

 Would I discover that?”




1.       The song is called “My Little Sweet Terrorist Dream which you can find its full lyrics and listen to it if you visit their site: The other two songs that have been quoted above are called “Power” and “House on Fire” performed first in the above “Educational Research Concert.” From each I have quoted only dispersed four lines.


... Payvand News - 1/13/06 ... --

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