The Oldest Most Exclusive Dance Party in the World

Think the lineup outside that hot new club is tough? You ain’t seen nothin’. Come with me to the Rif Mountains of northern Morocco and I’ll show you a party that’s really hard to crash. From Rolling Stone:

Welcome to the eighth annual Master Musicians of Joujouka “micro” music festival; held in the stunningly isolated Ahl Srif region of Morocco’s Rif Mountains, it has become a destination event for impassioned fans around the globe. Each year, a growing number of musicians, world-music devotees and the curious stumble upon this tiny gathering (ticket sales are strictly limited to 50), many returning annually. They come to watch and dance to the village’s 15 or 20 master (or malikim in Arabic) musicians performing the tribe’s traditional music.

In the early 1950s, the Masters were renowned in their tribal region, but not much beyond. All that changed when writer Paul Bowles and Canadian artist Brion Gysin, based in the expat mecca of Tangier, stumbled upon the MMJ at a Sufi festival, fell in love with the music and befriended the Masters through their painter friend Mohamed Hamri, who had familial ties to Joukouka.

By making the MMJ the house band at their Tangier restaurant, Gysin and Hamri introduced them to the likes of Timothy Leary, William Burroughs and other American beats, as well as the Rolling Stones, which then included guitarist Brian Jones. Jones, instantly enamored, went on to produce their first album, Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan, just before his death in 1969. Depending which source you believe, either Leary or Burroughs dubbed the MMJ “a 4,000-year-old rock & roll band.”

Get the whole story here.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.