When I first started to play world music for my campmates/on the radio on the playa, back in '00, I found that the stuff people liked the best were the North African/Middle Eastern tracks......traditional recordings, and especially the hybrid stuff with the dance beats. There is a huge amount of that stuff out there that's really good, so I made that style the theme of the first world music dance I had out in '02.
Your point about "water cultures" is well-taken. Interestingly, the next year's dance with Sub-Saharan African music did not go over as strongly as the North African stuff did the year before (despite the fact that I think the non-desert African music is a stronger set of styles overall).
I've always felt that there was something just "right" about playing desert music (from whichever country) on the playa. A fine synergistic melding of place and musical mood. I guess this year's Carnaval dance will test the theory. Of course, how can people NOT dance their asses off to Brazilian sounds??
waltsnipe, SCARAB Musical Director