Rock The Casbah

What is a "casbah"?

A Moroccan kasbah

A Moroccan kasbah

This is the title of a 1982 song by The Clash.

A “kasbah” (it’s an Arabic word, with lots of spelling variations in English) is a type of fortress or citadel in the Middle East, Sahara, and India. The song tells the story of a ban on rock music by an Arab king:

By order of the prophet
We ban that boogie sound
Degenerate the faithful
With that crazy Casbah sound

Shareef don’t like it […]

In response to the ban, the people of the story proceed to “rock the casbah,” meaning play rock music in the king’s palace.

According to Wikipedia:

This scenario was inspired by the ban on Western music in Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Why I Looked It Up

The song came on in the gym, and I got to wondering about it.

Some years ago, I had heard that “The Casbah” was a nightclub in Beirut, but I can’t find any evidence of that today. There are a lot of North American clubs called “The Casbah,” but I don’t know if any of them pre-date the song.

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