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Shakira's Tongue Gesture at the Super Bowl Was Zaghrouta

Shakira's Tongue-Flicking Gesture Was Memed, but It's Actually the Arab Tradition, Zaghrouta

Shakira's Tongue Gesture at the Super Bowl Was Zaghrouta
Image Source: Getty / Jeff Kravitz

On Sunday night, Shakira and Jennifer Lopez gave us one of the best halftime show performances we've seen in a long time. Not only did J Lo's 11-year-old daughter, Emme, make an appearance on stage, but the show was filled with striking yet subtle cultural statements. While performing a remix of "Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)" and "Let's Get Loud," many young singers appeared on stage in circular cages. It didn't take long before viewers connected the statement to the border crisis and current administration's family separation policy. The other instantly viral moment from the show was Shakira's tongue-flicking gesture.

The three-second moment had everyone talking, but it wasn't just an excited, camera-capturing gesture: it's zaghrouta. Zaghrouta is a traditional vocal expression done to express joy in Arab cultures. Shakira's father is Lebanese, and fans praised her for including the tradition in the halftime performance. The gesture is also believed to be a nod to Colombian Carnival in Barranquilla, where she was born and raised. One person wrote, "In the melting pot that is Miami, you could not have picked a better Super Bowl act and this was a lovely touch."

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