Tuesday, December 07, 2010

happy new year to the sharks and crocodiles...

today is New Year's day- well it is if you follow the islamic calender. In fact today, Ras as-Sana al-Hijreya, is the 1st day of the year 1432AH.

However, the majority of muslims i asked what year it was couldn't answer me... unless they read the newspapers here often, since it is written on the top on the page, alongside the 'western date'.

In reality all that seems to happen is a public holiday for schools and offices... which at least means the traffic is quite for a change!

Oh- on a completely different note. Those of you reading this who have staying with me over the last year will know i was most upset that my bourganvilla wouldn't flower.... well... it has now! Lovely orangey blooms... not many of them but I was beginning to wonder if ii had been sold a dud!!!

Oh and thanks for all the responses to my blog about the shark attacks in sharm. seems they closed the beach wed-fri, reopened it on sat, and a german woman was attacked on sunday. Hmm. You would think they might check these things a bit better... Here's what Egypts News has to say about it; http://www.thedailynewsegypt.com/environment/expert-blames-sharm-attack-on-illegal-shark-feeding.html

and another piece of breaking news... one of my dressers saw on the news that 4 people had been eaten by crocodiles in the Nile!!!! Seemingly with various food shortages further up the nile the crocs are having to swim further north to find food... and they found it in human form!Fishermen seemingly who were complaining becuase they were losing fish to these smiling competitors!! we are talking about the very south of Egypt here... but still, it makes one think of pharonic times when these were the monsters of the Nile, along with hippos- wonder if they will make a reappearence too?

so sharks and crocodiles in Egypt... eating people. It's all very excting, and a bit scary. Especially as all incidences are due to an ecological imbalance in nature!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Breaking news- Shark attack in Sharm- yesterday.

I have it on 1st hand knowledge that 2  Russian woman were attacked in Sharm el-sheikh snorkling yesterday. The one I know about lost an arm and a leg. She was arms reach from the jetty, ie not in deep water. The man who pulled her out the water spent the evening in hospital in shock (a sales rep, not even a lifeguard). The sea all round Sharm is closed today to swimmers and divers. Both women are now in Cairo hospital, seemingly in stable condition, according to the news.

There a very few fatal attacks in this area usually... a french woman was attacked in January this year, but not in the Sharm area, further south near Marsa Alam. The last Sharm shark attack was in 2004.

The attack has been reported today in arabic, but as yet no-where in English. I worried about writing it up becuase i hate to think of the effects it might have. But I also reasoned- that if google translate can work it out, then it won't be long before the rest of the world media does too.


I worry.

I worry that this will have a bad effect on Egypts economy since a lot of this countries income comes from the red sea resorts.
Please come to Egypt- it is a fabulous country! (I admit I won't be swimming in the sea, but there are still lots of lovely hotels with great swimming pools and the weather is good for tanning all year round!). And of course... Cairo is no-where near the red sea- so come here and see the sights!!!

Monday, November 29, 2010


i shouldn't have been surprised... but when i was talking to my dresser this evening, we mentioned todays elections in Cairo. I ask if she had voted... she said of course not. Although then she added that she should have because she would have got 50le. I didn't understand, she explained.

Seemingly, according to her, and to other band members, various candidates were handing out incentives for people to vote for them. Targetting the least well off areas of the city and offering everything from money to bags of meat! I was shocked. It seems so blatent. I guess I am still fairly naive to certain Egyptian political going- ons...!

When i asked if she had any preference who should get in, she did mention a name (which i have 'forgotten') saying that he was 'straight', ie  not dodgy. But when i asked if he too was being generous today, yes, of course he was handing out the money too... he had to , to get people to vote for him, even though he was a 'good' man! She didn't understand the irony of what she had said.

well, there you go. I dont really know what else to say.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

no surprise there..

on MSN today there is an article about the 10 most dangerous countries to drive in. Anyone who has been to Cairo has commented on the traffic and won't be shocked to know that Egypt is deemed the 3rd most dangerous in the world!

The stats they give are;

Population (2007): 75,497,913- hmm 3 years may have made a difference in this figure too..

Number of registered vehicles: 4,300,000 (I'd like to know when this info was gathered, cos bound to be more now!- plus- how many UNREGISTERED cars???)

Number of on-road fatalities: 15,983

Fatality rate per 100,000 people: 41.6


So, I guess no one else is going to ask me why i don't drive in Cairo now!!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A man’s role in life....

So after a while at the competition last night we decided to do something different . A group of six of us all walked round the the Stilleto nightclub on the Nile, just opposite the Cairo Sheraton hotel, so we could have a dance. So, we were 6 women and 1 man in the group (although not quite like the "ragel wi set settat" -a man and 6 women- a TV soap opera that was seemingly very funny and ran for 5 seasons here in Cairo!) Anyway, I really didn’t think any club in Cairo would have a problem letting so many (beautiful) foreign women in to a club where there is ALWAYs much much more men to women. Anyway, we couldn’t get in. Not at first anyway.
The bouncer pulled my friend (male) aside and explained why.

They were scared to let us in, because if any of the men inside hit on us, or stared any problem, how could our ‘1’ man protect us all....?

This statement just confused and annoyed all the girls in the group when i explained to them the reason. I totally understood it and actually felt grateful to the bouncers for thinking about our safety. I guess shows how much I have internalised Egyptian ways to some extent!

We decided to risk it, all feeling quite confident we could handle ourselves, but then didn’t stay since the minimum charge turned out to be 130le if we sat at a table (no minimum if we stood by the bar). But feet were hurting and the idea of standing all night didn’t appeal so we headed over to cairo Jazz club, were we ended up standing all night anyway, but the music was better and the men were less threatening, or at least the clientele in there are used to seeing foreign women and therefore knew how to behave!

So I live in a city where it is assumed that women cannot protect themselves. That in my opinion is because there is very little respect for women taught. Respect your mother, your sister, your aunt, but any non-relative is fair game, unfortunately.

This ends total verbal diarrhoea on the male/female issues that hit me from my experiences yesterday. One day creating 3 blog entries- all about men!

A man’s role in dance.

I went to part of the Nile group competition night last night. Of the dancers I saw (and we only stayed a couple of hours) there were three performances that really stood out for me personally. Athena, from Greece. An elegant graceful dancer who looked stunning in a beautiful Hallah costume and carried herself with a lovely calm confidence which did create to her simple and effective choreography. I like it when a dancer’s personality comes across on stage. When i look and think, yes, i’d like to be her as a friend! Too many dancers can put on a personality for dance. Pretend to be something that they think a dancer’s should be. If it’s not you though, it just doesn’t work. All it does is create a barrier and show the audience that you don’t want them to know the real you.
A group, i think from Korea who looked absolutely amazing. Full glitter drag queen eye make-up, stunning , matching, black and white costumes and multi coloured fans. It wasn’t bellydance by any stretch of the imagination... but it was by far the slickest, tightest, most beautiful group dance performance I have ever seen on that stage. I was speaking to Aleya about it, and she promised to upload the film she took of it onto youtube soon, so watch this space.

The third performance that really captured me, also surprised me. I have to admit that i personally, do not enjoy watching men perform bellydance. Sorry. I know i may upset people by saying that. I am all for male teachers. Often a man does totally know what a woman should do to make the most of herself. And I like watching a man dance folk, or even oriental, when he is dancing as a man. Not as a man trying to be a woman. When a man starts dressing like a woman, and doing hair flicks and cute hand covering the mouth coquettish moves etc, I just switch off. I can learn from it, yes. I can appreciate the technique, yes, but for me the mood is ruined because I feel they are trying to be something they are not.

So, with that in mind, Hassan (i think his name was- I will get confirmation of this an add asap!) performance I expected I wouldn’t enjoy. He wore a turquoise catsuit, with pharaonic style gold belt and shoulder piece. His hair was in a pony tail and most bizarrely he carried his fairly ‘cuddly’ body in a strange manner which gave him a sway back, really thrusting his chest forward and his bum out. You couldn’t get more man trying to be woman. In fact, seeing a waiters shocked face I called him over to ask what he thought and he answered my question with a question, it that a man or a woman?

So with all my prejudices in mind, i should have hated him yes. No. He was amazing! His movements were soft, elegant, with the most amazing spins i have EVER seen on a dancer. His gentle shimmying figures of eight travelling across the stage were something that quite frankly samia gamal would have been proud of, and probably inspired. It was very golden era-esque and the timing and feel of the moves was just perfect with the music. I kept want to hate it, but i couldn’t. In fact, when i just persuaded myself not to look at his face I could kid myself that it really was a woman and possibly one of the most impressive dancers I have seen on that stage. Big statement eh?

When he came back to do a second dance wearing a black galabeya that was fitted on top but with a full circulur skirt and hip scarf, he lost me though. Physically he did everything right. However, in a song like ana fintizarek i wanted to connect with the soul of the dancer, and well, I just couldn’t. There was something about his facial expressions that pushed me away rather than drawing me in. A little too much effort there. Trying too hard. All in all. I’d love to watch him again, and I’d love to learn from him.

I know this blog entry will probably create some heated opposition, since it’s not very ‘pc’ to say outright that I don’t usually like watching male bellydancers. I have no issue at all with any man dancing...... like a man, Thats great!

But the truth is i don’t like any dancer who looks like he , or she, is trying to be something they are not.

I have no issue at all with any man dancing... like a man.

How the men are taught...

I went to visit a friend in Maadi yesterday and decided to ride the metro home. I have been on the Cairo metro many times, and love the fact that there is a female only carriage and that, wherever you go, it only costs 1le. However, I haven’t ridden the metro on my own, only with others, always opting for the more expensive, but more comfortable taxi ride home instead. I decided I should stop being lazy, and face my fears. It’s very easy, I have found, to slip into the ‘easier things’ but by doing so I often miss out on more interesting events and observations to be found in Cairo.

So, in the women only carriage yesterday we were just about to leave Maadi when 3 young boys (about 12 years old) all jumped in through the doors. My initial reaction was oops, they made a mistake, they’ll jump out straight away.

How naive of me.

As soon as the train pulled away from the station it became apparent that they wanted to break the rules, and started clapping and singing about the ‘hareem’. I was very interested to see how the women would react, because my biggest urge was to physically push them out the door at the next stop. I waited to see what the rest of the passengers would ‘punish’ these boys. Instead, to my disdain, the young girls all giggled at the boy’s jokes, and even made comments back. Even though the train was full to bursting these boys had space around them since none of us wanted to be brushing up against them. In the mixed carriage they would be squished along with everyone else. I guess that is what added to the attraction for them. That and the girls giggles.

Only at the end of their journey, after maybe 5 stops, did the boys leave, but the problem was the platform was now at the other side of the carriage, so although so far they had been up against the door the alighted by so far, now they had to cross through the middle of the sardine can of ‘sittet’ (Arabic for women) to get off the train. Finally, at this point, one girl made protest. Her argument was that they got on, so they could wait until there was space to get off, even if that meant missing their stop. I admired her spunk. Her voice though was strange, very rural with a strange squeak which the boys used to make fun of her rather than listen to her. Unfortunately the giggling girls stood up for the boys and helped them push through. One of the boys did get a slap round the head by the complaining girl’s mother though... and I really thought he was going to hit her back.... he stood in the doorway for a long time with a look of hatred on his face staring at her, but i guess he decided the odds were against him and finally left!

So the moral of the story is... boys will be boys... but only it seems because the women let them and actually in many cases, actively encourage them!

Oh for the day where my Arabic is good enough to chastise them myself without being afraid that my poor grammar would be used as a way of ridiculing me in return!

Friday, November 19, 2010

i just want to dance!!.. but where?

so, in a city of 20 million... you would expect there to be a wealth of places to go clubbing. I wish! I am hoping people reading this will be able to recommend some new places to me, because quite frankly, i am fed up with 'bars' being called clubs just cos people dance in them... in the tiny space where they might be able to move.

Cairo 'clubs';

After Eight (downtown)- a bar with live music most nights, really nice, but small and smoky. min charge 80-100le.

Cairo Jazz Club (Agouza)- a bar with live music most nights, also very nice, but small and no dance floor. No min charge.

Villa 55 (Maadi)- a bar/restaurant with occasional live music but definitely a bar not a club. min charge 150le

Floor10, Kempenski hotel (Garden city)- a hotel bar which seemingly is jumping (but was totally empty last night!) still not witnessed it in full flow.

Hard Rock Cafe (Garden city)- restaurant by day, sharia haram by night. mainly arab men with a few working girls dancing on the chairs and tables. lots of khaleegy music played. usually high entrance fee- but last night was free cos all Cairo was empty due to Eid.

Stilleto (Dokki)- lovely location club on the Nile, with great salsa night on a sunday night, but sound levels always low cos near police club. Can't really club wiith quiet music!

Blues (Giza)- bar where people sometimes dance,which stays open til 6am with mixed music, but also mixed clientele.

Deals (Mohandiseen)- Bar where people sometimes dance and has fairly steep min charge

Dice (Royal king boat, Agouza)- club playing mainly house music, dubious clientele.

Morocco (Blue Nile boat, Zamalak)- restaurant by day, club by night. expensive min charge. but good mix music usually.

Purple (Zamalek)- only been once, was nice club, with mix music but difficult to get past doormen.

Africana (Haram)- great music, wild night, not very safe for women unless with bodyguards!

Club 35 (Giza)- not been yet. no one I suggest it to every recommends it- but can't say from experience why!

Ritmo (Downtown)- hotel bar where people go to dance but only ever seen people drinking, not dancing!

Swiss Club (Imbaba)- a lovely old villa but mainly organised party nights rather than reg weekly club nights.

Cafe Bian (mohandiseen)- cafe (no alcohol) which has organised dance nights. salsa on tues and thurs, oriental on wed.

what else.....?

really struggling now... ok- so it looks like there are a lot of places to go... but actually, to go and dance and not get hassle or mistaken for a working girl, there are few. very few. I want to dance! and specifically, i want to go to dance to R&B music... but I can't find any.

Please have any suggestions pass them on....

Thursday, November 18, 2010

parties parties parties...

apologies to my blog readers...
Facebook has seriously taken over....

now whenever something happens in my life in Cairo - instead of tunring it into a blog article, with lots of relevent (well, sometimes relevent) info and stories, it becomes a one line status update. NOT good... especially as this blog is supposed to be my memory aid for when i am old and grey and come to write up the whole bellydancer in Cairo experience into a book... (that is , once I no longer live in Cairo and can actually dish the dirt hehe!!!)

anyway- whats been happening? 3 parties in 2 days... and all very diffferent!

I performed at a birthday party on Eid at a friends house... it was great. I danced to Enta Omri, which when i had 1st put it onto the cd had thought maybe this is too heavy for a party... but then I thought- why not, i love it and want to dance it. So i did... and the atmosphere in the room became electric once it started... at one point i started to sing outloud (it was an instrumental version of the song) and about 15 people, mainly egyptian women , all joined in the song... and i swear I nearly cried. I felt i had really, finally made it- I belonged. I fitted. I hope i never forget that feeling, it was so emotionally overwhelming!

after the party i went along to catch the end of the opening gala for the Nile Group festival. I had missed all the dancers, but the Saaidi band were still playing and my houseguests were all there dancing away as was my friend Aleya. So we all had a boogie together and Magdy el-Leisy dragged me up on stage to dance with him. We had a fabulous time! Just wish I could have been there for the whole thing... was nice to see and chat with Camelia at the end, but wish i could have seen her show too, not to mention Asmahan and Nour! ah well, next time!

Yesterday I went to another party, but not to watch or perform dance, for a change.  Through my writer friend Linda, I have met some swiss artists who are here in Cairo on a residency and they invited us to their studio for a party. The strange thing was that this studio is on an island, in the Nile, in the middle of Cairo (just near the pharonic village) and you have to access it via boat (which cost 25p each way, Egyptian piestres not pence that is !!). There are no roads on the island, and its all fields and palm trees. I really felt I was out of the city in the middle of the countryside. It was lovely and peaceful. Linda performed her poetry with 2 friends who are musicians backing her up. They performed in a 'cage' on the roof- a space designed to keep away mossies... and which was well lit so made a bizarre, but fabulous stage! at one point, to take a call, after the show, i wandered over to another place on the roof and found myself looking over the fields and trees and Nile, with complete silence around me, and started to dance, just for myself, no music, but I felt so free... I can see why they chose that spot for the residency studio- it was really inspiring!

Here's Linda in her cage stage' !!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Folk sometimes say the strangest things...

an American man recently after a performance on the golden pharoah decided he had to come to tell me how good he thought i was , saying- "you are really good you know, you should go to Las Vegas and dance there, really you are good enough" .......  i pointed out to him that i really didn't want to go America to perform on a stage in a hotel which has been made to look like its in Egypt, full of pyrmaids and pharoahs, when i actually currently dance on a boat, on the actual Nile, with my own Egyptian band and Egyptian audiences. He didn't get it... "but no- you'd be really good there.. you should try it." i replied "thank you , but I am really happy here". Then he tried to encourage me to enter in some Amercian talent show, when i said "no, it wasn't really my thing", he kept telling me how good the prize money was... and couldn't understand at all when i said I wasn't into dance for money.

Some people just don't get it at all.........

others do;

The manager of TGI Fridays in Giza welcomed me at the door of the restaurant one afternoon when i had popped in for a bowl of soup inbetween sails at work. " I saw your show last week on the Pharoah. You're very good. Thank you so much for your performance my friends and I really enjoyed it, and if i can do anything for you at all please just say". Then he walked away... no sleeze or horrible comments, just genuine appreciation and respect. It was lovely.

Then, I was in a club in Cairo last night, and in the queue for the bathrooms, a girl came up to me all excited..." i know you, i know you- I'm from Morocco and i've have seen your show on the Nile Pharoah... you were so so good, really talented, and classy and funny too. We all really enjoyed it so much. Thank you, Thank you."

That was nice.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

dance for mental fitness....

some fabulous news... if it is true... that dancing frequently drasticaly lowers the risk of dementia by up to 76% !!!

I intend to dance forever... so hopefully I'll not totally lose either my body or my brain! Thats the plan anyway! Inshallah!!!


... and what is even better, they recommend forms of dance where you have to make quick, on the spot decisions... so my beloved habit of improvising, rather than choreographing... is staying!

will maybe try to make a little more time for salsa and clubbing too.... all in the name of health!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Freshest film...

This clip was only recorded last week! (Thanks Manda for bringing it to my attention!)

This is the first i have seen my new entrance dance on film.. and already i am picking it apart... hmm roll on monday- i am going to be doing some new things in there i think!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

a week at home...

This past week has been very strange for me. I am used to my Cairo life being packed with too many things to do... and this week has been the opposite.

We have too many dancers working at the pharoah boats just now... so with 5 dancers ( Me, Outi, Maya, Mona and Magda) that means we each only get 12-13 nights work a MONTH. Which is NOT enough to live on. hmmm. not great. Thankfully usually when this happens i can suppliment things by teaching (which I have done a little of this week) and renting out my spare rooms ( although this week was an empty house week too). Why do we have so many dancers?... business. If the boat emplys numerous dancers... if one of us were to be sick, travel or throw a diva tantrum, then they still have enough dancers to work. It makes business sense, I know. It's just hard when there isn't much work outside of the boat. Although its tough I shouldn't complain. i have also had times over the last 4 years when there were only 2 dancers working on the pharoahs which meant work EVERY night... and that is even tougher, especially if you get injured!

so i have had 5 days without 'work'...(with some assumptions!)

Day 1 without work was great...i caught up with 3 close girlfriends and had lovely quality time. Including an interesting and informative stretching session with a girl trained in ballet. She got me almost into the splits!!! was so impressed with myself! (this assumes that for a dancer stetching isn't 'work'?)

Day 2 was THE productive day. i had over 200 outstanding emails, some from as far back as early 2009!!!! I managed to get that list in one day down to less than 10. Also did a costume shop visit (always good, although often expensive!). The evening was spent as the day started... emails... (this assumes emails, mainly about dance from dancers, isn't work?)

Day 3 and spending the majority of the time at home alone is beginning to get to me. I get depressed if left to my own devices for too long, I think its about having too much time to think! Anyway... I was moping about then said to myself- STOP, snap out of it... how can i make myself happy again....? so i went to my studio and put my 'happy mood' playlist on the ipod up to full volume and washed dishes, scrubbed kitchen cupboards, emptied the through everything into it cupboards in the living room and sorted things out for throwing out etc etc  i even made a to do list and ticked some things off! It is amazing the power of happy music (mine includes Mr Boombastic!). I decided that i should keep up this energy level and went into the studio with a view to doing some stretches and thought- why not do an arabic lesson at the same time... THAT was my big mistake. I was lying on my mat, doing a glut stretch, listening to the michael thomas arabic course... and my knee hit the floor! I had fallen asleep mid stretch!!!!!! oops my energy had stopped. I planned to go out salsa dancing... but then i ordered Pizza... and that put an end to any form of movement as the evenings activety, so i slumped in front of the TV, which people who know me know is NOT a good sign! (this assumes stretching, arabic study and sorting bellydance photo cd's from music cd's isn't work?)

Day 4 i had a reason to get up... a class to teach. Yippee! I enjoyed it so much i continued for about an hour in the studio choreographing a dance for her next class! Then I tried to debug my plants on the balcony. They have mealyworm. Or at least thats the closest thing i could find online that looks like them. Internet said to dab them with rubbing alcohol and they would fall off. So i put some whiskey in a spray bottle and blasted them. ( it didn't in the end work, but it was a very bizarre experience, some from my country would say sacreligious!). Oh and I got a long outstanding job done. I have bought many lamps in my time here. i love them! But the wiring is not exactly what you would call safe, or often effective! So I gave 2 lamps to the bowab so he could take them somewhere to fix.. and within a couple of hours they were back with me- working. hurrah- success- tick off that list! Go out dancing... i could have... i had invites... but no- i sat in front of the TV, again. (this assumes teaching and making my spare rooms presentable to dancers who want to rent them isnt work?)

Day 5 my prayers were answered in the form of work. I was called into the Nile Maxim to cover a lunchtime sail. It was fun, despite having a new tabal and singer... i just loved being back doing what i am here to do!Plus , on the Maxim the program is different so i got to do almost a full hours show, rather than just 2x 15min sets as is usual on the pharoah. That was great. I felt awful though when i got an old man up to dance, cos he was dancing about by his table anyway.. he took the stick off me, and proceeded to try and dance... except he was really old and not steady on his feet and in trying to impress/imitate me he landed on the floor. It must have really hurt becuase the stage there is marble, not wood and it is hard enough on the soles of my feet, so i can only imagine what landing full onto it must have felt like. Anyway, there were no broken bones and he was still smiling at the show by the end of the sail. Thank god! (this assumes work that isn't my contracted work , isn;t work?)

Then- wow- paragraph 2- this was a busy day! I asked the bowab about a small glass top table, because i needed new glass for it. Within an hour a boy had come to measure it, phoned in to his boss with sizes and got price quote, gone, collected 'made to measure' glass, with bevelled edges, and returned it to me. all within an hour. In a country where it can take days to do easy things, somethings that you would think should take longer just happen. i can't believe i had been putting it off for years- literally! The glass broke in an interesting manner. The coffee table was beside a window. usually the shutter is left closed. The cleaner left it open. The sun shone through the window, magnifying as it did so, the beam of light hit the glass topped table and the until then perfect glass, cracked. One long wavy line of a crack that made a heck of a noise as it grew! So now, that shutter stays shut! That was nearly 4 years ago!

para 3- life is beginning to look up! - friends came over. A girl from Ireland and her Egyptian 'husband'. They are travelling  to hers for christmas and we spent a while going over the extensive list of everything you need to supply the British embassy with in order to get a visa. What a nightmare! With a UK passport i have to admit I have always taken it completely for granted that you want to travel, you buy your ticket, and you go. Often just buying a visa on arrival, if you need one at all! For egyptians to travel, especially to UK or USA, the requirements are massive, even with a letter of invitation! Oh and then we went out to eat mandy. No- not a person !!! Mandy is a yemen dish with basmati rice and sultanas toped with the meat of your choice, we had very fatty lamb- I will try chicken next time. Very tasty too- and the shop is walking distance from my place. Although the poor man in the shop got into an awful tiz when i wanted to take the number for deliveries finally admitting that no one in the shop could speak english so he was worried how could they take my order? when i told him not to worry it would be ok, in arabic, his relief and surprised smile were evident!

a good day.

Day 6 is today and I have all sorts of exciting things lined up for tonight and plans made with people i can't let down, so finally i will be 'doing something' with my time 'off work! The day started earlier than I would have liked since my cleaner insists on starting her day at 8am. Usually this involves me opening the door with my eyes still closed, then going straight back to bed and waking only to pay her before she leaves. Bliss. Today i had to play the ogre and go round the house with her pointing out all the things she hadn't been doing right, or at all, and that took 20 mins. It's a job i knew I had to doo for weeks, lets be accurate, months, but i could never bring myself to tell a grown woman how to clean a glass, or a window. so I had been ignoring the probelm and hoping she would improve on her own. In fact, she got worse, sloppier and sloppier. It seems that unless you are tough, and that means delivering a warning with not hit of smile or even what a brit would consider manners, is the only thing that works. I hate it.

So now i am wide awake, have done my emials, and this blog and its not even 10am. Hmm- how to fill my day.....?

- i will go and see a circus performance (by someone who contacted me through my blog- ie work)
- then interview and my life here as a foreign dancer (ie work)
- then watch a film a friend bellydancing (ie work)
- then go out to some cabaret bars to watch lots of dancers (ie work)

amazing how little of my life isn't 'work'.... but also how much 'work' i love!!!!!!!!  I'd just like to make the point. Most 'normal' jobs you leave behind you when you leave your office, shop whatever. Your work seldom consumes EVERYTHING in your life.

When you are an artist, and in particular when you are self employed and have to promote yourself, then 'work' never stops. You don't want it to stop. It becomes you. Without bellydance my whole world would be completely different. I hope I never have to know just how different.

My 'boring' , 'work-free' week... hope it's been interesting for you!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

food and drink in Cairo

Sayeda Studio: Glimpses of Egypt II. - Food and drinks: "You cannot miss the amazing juices, the most delicious fruits and vegetables once in Egypt, and of course the spices and meals egyptians mak..."

If you are hungry and not near food you should not look at the photos in this blog entry by Zsofia, a dear friend of mine, who used to live here in cairo..... if you like to tease yourself- go on- look!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lorna Gow at Saqarah 14 August 2010 Part 4

Me dancing serit el hob... a favourite Om Kalthoum song, unfortunalty a short verison of it... since it was my favourite thing of the whole performance. followed by a tabla solo with medhat... who did well considering since we haven't ever worked together before! This was my favourite set of the night... and since its a bit longer than the other clips takes longer to view... but I think its the best of the 4. Thanks to the Saqarah girls for putting this online for me.

Lorna Gow at Saqarah 14 August 2010 Part 3

The bulk of this video i didn't have a clue about- the band knew a different version of it than me.... but my favourite bit is near the end... when i start playing about with the tabla a little... a tiny but fun tabla solo.

Blogging from sharm...

3 days with no work on the boat... so why not jump a bus up to Sharm el Sheik and chill out by a pool? The bus is less than 100lle each way and can take anything between 5 and a half hours to 8 hours to arrive. Unfortunately on this occasion it took closer to 8.

That’s what i have been doing - and its fabulous. Reading, listening to music, watching videos of dancers such as samia gamal, mona el said and zizi Mustapha that I’d downloaded from youtube in anticipation of doing some dance research by the pool! Have also really enjoyed stretching in the pool... it feels like I can take most stretches that bit further when the water is supporting me.... or maybe that is because i am stretching when i am relaxed... rather than waiting until something hurts and then stretching to try and fix it!!

What i really didn’t expect to be doing is ... wait for it.... ice skating.

YES... ICE-SKATING in Egypt!!! In Soho Square, Sharm. It cost 90le each, and you can stay as long as you like.

I can honestly say it’s probably over 15 years since i last put my feet into a pair of those uncomfortable boots and gave myself the challenge of staying upright, made even more urgent since i was dressed to go out clubbing. That is to say- if I had fallen, the tan I’d been working on during the day would have been removed completely!! The adrenadline rush was stronger than a sharm cocktail and kept me warm despite the chilly temperature of the arena. When I was there, the only other person on the ice was a tiny Russian girl who was doing full one legged spins, jumps etc etc.... as if I didn’t feel stupid enough in my clubbing gear nervously sliding my way around the edge. But, after a while i was hands free and almost in the middle too. No spins for me though- not intentional ones anyway! It was great fun. Facing the fear and doing it anyway! So if you are going out in sharm for a night out, i recommend packing a pair of socks in your handbag and hitting the ice (not literally!), and i strongly recommend doing it before you go to the bars and before all the little Russian girls show you up!!!!

If skating is a bit too much for you... then the other thing I did that night was 10 pin bowling. Also in soho square. It’s 40le per player per game. And again the socks in the handbag were useful since you have to wear the shoes they provide! My first throw was great... then my tendonitis in my shoulder reminded me it was there and my game went downhill rapidly from then on. That is my excuse anyway, and I’m sticking to it!! A great night!

In fact, I can’t rave about soho square enough... they have lots of lovely fountains (and a dancing one- lights and water moving to music- its great!) and statues and bars and shops and cafes and an outdoor show complete with a bellydancer and tannoura. It’s all new, and not cheap, but it is a different sharm experience than wandering around Naama bay, especially if you spend it trying to keep your pins upright and then trying to make sure the other pins don’t stay upright, as I did!!!

That is all for this blog since i am typing by the pool and the sun is moving round to my area, which would make the screen to difficult to read. Yes of course i could move out of the sun, and yes of course i am only writing this to make you jealous sitting reading my blog from your office chair or wherever you happen to be just now!!!

Lorna Gow at Saqarah 14 August 2010 Part 2

The oud takasim here was completely improvised, by that i mean that I didn't even know they were going to put it into the set!!! I enjoyed it though!

Lorna Gow at Saqarah 14 August 2010 Part 1

Here's some new recently uploaded videos of my show in London in Ramadan....

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Belly Dance in Nile Cruise, Egypt

Yet another vidoe of my old entrance dance..... and yet another Eman Zaki costume!

me in my 'magnoona' costume!!

Edella alla keyfek. Love this song... adn love dancing it in this costume - another fun Eman Zaki creation! I only just found this clip today... didn't know it was up there- wonder how many other vidoe's of me are online that I don't know about!!!!

My 1st dance at Saqarah, Aug 2010

I just love this costume by Eman Zaki. It's so fun!

My second dance at Saqarah, Aug 2010

MyThis was complete improvisation... since they (the band) seemed to know a completely different version of the song than i did!

My drum solo at Saqarah, Aug 2010

Thanks to Rana for putting these video's on youtube!!! It was a fun night and I enjoyed dancing with the Nile band- although it was my 1st time!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lorna does Luxor

I am back in Cairo now, after spending 3 fabulous days with a lovely group of women from all over Europe. The festival was run by Sara Farouk and Kay Taylor and was just perfect! The 3 main teachers for the week were myself, Khazafy and Eman Zaki.

 I also performed, with the orchestra they provided. I was given 3 hours on arrival the 1st day to rehearse- we only needed 2 hours to put together over an hours set! What a group of totally professional artists. It was bliss working with them. I also felt a real mutual respect between me and the musicians, possibly since the orchestra leader , Ahmed Mahrous (violin player) has spent many years in France and therefore doesn't have the usual Egyptian attitudes towards women and in particular bellydancers. I think the show I did on sunday night was possibly my best dancing to date. I am hoping that people have filmed parts of it at least (if you have; PLEASE add it to youtube- i want to know if it looks half as good as it felt!!!).

 I did a set in my 'Egyptian flag' costume, manmore than one person thought it was red, white and blue. I guess if you are not used the the Egyptian flag that makes more sense (since most of the people at the festival were British)- but still... i have looked again and it is DEFINITELY black, not blue! I figured the big Eagle necklace would have given the game away- but obviously not...

I was really sad to leave, the musicians, the new friends, the beautiful venue (5 star hotel with lovely large pool!), all of it in fact. There was a really nice balance of classes, talks, performances and chilling.... it felt like my idea of a perfect holiday- and I was working!!!

My first evening i joined the group outing to see the sound and light show at Karnak temple... you walk through the temple as it goes on... it was fabulous. Enjoyed it much more than the one at the Pyramids, although parts of it were just as corny!

I have to take my hat off to Sara and Kay- (and Sherif!!!) - you guys did a great job. Everything ran smoothly and the wonderful friendly atmosphere was largely down to the way you handled everything beautifully. well done.

Back to Cairo and awaiting a new house guest.... i have a packed home for the next 3 months... it's going to be lovely to be surrounded by all these dancers from all over the world! I've also been inspired to go on a search for more new music to dance to.... so i have been exploring my itunes all day today and discovered that I know an awful lot more Oum Kalsoum music than i know the names of!

Friday, September 24, 2010

organic choreographing and rocks

I really don't know what to write about, but feel i should write cos I haven't for ages and ages.............!

I have a day off. I feel like I haven't once stopped since long before Ramadan started... and its been over for 2 weeks now! I like working the lunch time sails, when its bus loads of tourists who get to see me as part of there 'total egyptian experience' after the pyramids and before the museam usually! It just gets difficult when you have 4 sails one day, then 3 the next etc etc (so thats anything between 1-8 shows in a day, varies per day!) Not complaining. Love the work... just that my body has stiffened up beyond belief. today, the 1st day off in ages has been spent in bed... and online... trying to catch up physically and mentally!!!!

anyway- enough moaning.

Cairo- crazy cairo- yes I still love it. Its strange to be away from my family when i know I could help them through difficult times... and seeing all my friends in UK again throughout Ramadan just reinforced how much i miss them.... but here is home. I just wish i could work out if i felt confident enough to buy a property here. Renting is stressful... and limiting. There is so much I'd love to do... but feel i couldn't in someone else's house - like building extra wardrobes before you get any other ideas!!!! I have totally run out of space for my own clothes- and thats before you even consider the 2 wardrobes of costumes!!! i need a 'sex in the city' style wardrobe!!!

Oh- and I am finally performing to my new entrance dance... it's still at the organic choreographing stage... ie I perform it every day.... up to 8 times in a day!!!....... but it changes everytime, unless i find something and think that really worked and then that gets added everytime... until i have partically choreographed it! I love working on a song like that, because it gives me new fresh ideas for interpretation and moves... and I can test them as I go along with the audiences reactions.... it's getting to the stage when i need to get it videod soon though so i can see if things look as good as they feel, or not!!!

I just realised that I haven't added the pics from the ramaden revellry tour.... heres a few pics from Northern Ireland- i was teaching in Dublin then we drove up to belfast and had a day in the North... and went to the giants causeway...

 Massive thanks to Adele and Nicola for being fabulous tour guides and showing me their windy countryside ( it reminded me a lot of Scotland!!!). I enjoyed the place and the company! Already looking forward to my next Belfast visit!

I'll get together some of the workshops pics from around the UK and add them in another blog soon! who knows... maybe some pics of my upcoming trip to Luxor to teach and perform at the Farha festival there.

Monday, September 13, 2010

review of one of my workshops

Here's a review of a recent workshop I taught in Edinburgh... an intense workshop which ended in a spontantious group hug!!!


Back into the swing of things...

So here I am back in Cairo... and you know what.... it really does feel like home!
As much as I love seeing my UK friends and family, driving my car, feeling comfortable doing stuff , like opening a bank account etc ... Cairo, and this flat I have lived in now for nearly 4 years, is home.

I’ve been back nearly 2 days, and not done a lot really, other than catch up with friends, do numerous loads of washing (glamorous huh), get house cleaned of a month’s build up of Cairo dust (which would be equivalent to about 6 months if not more back in Edinburgh!) That’s ‘get house cleaned- not clean house.... see how well I have slotted back into ‘normality’! oh and get eyebrows done and bag packed for work... that i have to tell you is no mean feat.

I guess it runs alongside the idea of what a woman keeps in her handbag... but, just so you can begin to understand why my work suitcase is heavy before i even enter any of the 4-5 costumes i usually take to work each night here’s a list of what I just put in there.....

- Melaya- in case I feel the urge to dance Iskandirani style
- Abaya- for covering up in between shows
- Towel- its hot work!
- Spare underwear -flesh colour of course for wearing under costumes
- Hairpiece
- Brush
- Hairspray
- Hair clips
- 2 Shebika’s ie body stockings –for wearing if the police ever come to check!
- Safety pins- of numerous sizes
- Cotton wool and make-up remover- for mistakes and running mascara!
- Facewipes- for feet after
- Deodorant
- Perfume- gets sprayed on every time i leave that changing room!!
- Body lotion -a bit of a sheen hides a multitude of sins!
- Accessories – lots of various bits of jewellery to match every possible costume
- Ibuprofen- in case I have to dance through back ache, headache, muscle ache etc
- Sewing kit- for last minute and emergency ‘make it fit and stay on’ moments.
- Scissors
- Tweezers
- Emery board
- False eyelashes and glue
- Make-up bag- that’s another massive list in itself!
- Book- in case there is time sitting about between shows
- Diary and pen- to take note of an ever changing rota

Hopefully that’s it... since that’s all i have in there at the moment! Most of it just lives in there... so I don’t have to remember it all everyday.

I am really excited about my first day back tomorrow. I missed dancing with my band, although I did get more live music to perform to in UK this time compared to previous visits, which did help to make things feel a bit more realistic for me there!

So, off to paint the nails before bed... have a nagging feeling i have forgotten to pack something important (yes I did put the costumes in there too!). I suspect however, that the thing i haven’t packed and am feeling i should is the CD to perform too..... and yippee , I don’t have to!!! Love dancing in Cairo.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The amazing improvised drum solo in Leeds

I really enjoyed myself in this dance...

we have only worked together twice before- and i didn't warn him about anything I was hoping or planning to do (as if i ever plan anything anyway!!!) and i just LOVED it! Well done 'Rhythmic Ginger' for keeping up with me and making it such a pleasure!!!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

more photos from London!

This lovely pink costume is by Amera el Kattan of pharonix costumes. Thanks again to Maani for the wonderful shots. I especially love the interplay between myself and Medhat, the drummer for The Nile Band.

Photos from London Performance

Thanks to Maani for these fabulous shots of my performance at Saqarah, London, 2 weeks ago. The blue and green rather funky design costume is by Eman Zaki.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Memorable moments.....

It seems my beloved blog has been used mainly as a marketing tool as of late. Hmm- that's not what it was set up for....!!!

so here's some waffle!

So far i have danced my way around England.... London (with live band), Leeds (with live drummer) and Birmingham (with live.... IPOD player!).

Its been fun and exhausting. I always get super nervous every time I come back to UK in case i don't live up to people expectations of me. I guess maybe there are some cases where i don't- but thankfully in the vast majority of cases, everyone seems to be wow'd and happy. Phew... not really sure what I am doing right... but something anyway it would seem. You'd think after dancing professionally for 13 years, not to mention in Cairo for the last 4 and half, all this stupid nerves stuff would just stop- well, it hasn't. I guess the higher I climb, then further there is to fall!

Highlights for me of my UK trip so far (in the order i think of them, not in order of preference!):

- Landing in Edinburgh to sunshine (it didn't last long- but it lifted my spirits after flying in from Hot and sunny Cairo)

- That drum solo in Leeds- where Rhythmic Ginger and i had such a laugh and really connected well on stage... as if we had rehearsed it all- but actually i had told him we'll start with a roll and just play from then on... poor boy- he did comment on my 'Egyptian' attitude to it all and compare to his more British one of wanting a little planning. Anyway- It was so much fun i did encore after encore....

- Talking of Leeds- the Enta Omri- where, mid dance, i found tears running down my cheeks! I wasn't the only sap in the crowd... and I got hugged by a few tearful women that night... It was incrediably powerful, all that emotion!

- A day spent with my little nephew (now 4 and a half!) born just a couple of weeks before i moved to Cairo I hardly get any quality time with him... that whole day: seeing shrek, going to soft play, reading stories..a special day in my life. just fabulous.

- Shopping in Primark in Birmingham. Why oh why do i love that place so much???? fab stuff dirt cheap!

- and on the shopping topic- Buying a new hair piece, also in Birmingham.... i sweat so much when i dance that although my hair is long enough without anything added... i tend to look like I have just stepped out the shower after a couple of songs unless i use extensions to bulk up the volume!

- fasting for Ramadan... ok so it was only 2 days... but I made the effort. Going without water all those hours was VERY difficult- i cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like in Cairo just now in 45 deg temperatures!!! Breaking the fast with muslims in UK, for the 1st time in my life... felt strange listening to the call to prayer played over the TV, in Birmingham!

- A bottle of Crabbies ginger ale in the sunshine in clapham common. Followed by a chicken shawerma from local kebab place!!!

- Missing the London flight (not a highlight of the trip!) but then getting out the bad mood by driving around the lovely countryside with fabulous tunes pumping out loud (including 'Mr Bombastic' and' i like to move it move it! )!!!!!!

- A comedy show in the fringe, with a good friend, where we saw 7, i think it was, stand up comedians in an hour.

- salsa with old friends... even it is have bruises and cuts on my feet to prove it!

- long phone calls with old friends- normally it's too expensive to catch up properly from Egypt!

- The feeling of power on stage in London... not for every song- but by the end it was feeling really good. I felt like I was really in 'my place' !!

- walking along portobello beach, in the sunshine!

- being the cause of burnt chickpeas..then being thanked for it!!!...... the chef was trying on costumes at the time!

- driving in my car , with my music blarring...

- time with good friends, and their families.... so many children growing up so fast!

...................... I think this is going to be a long list... I'll save some for another blog!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

An intimate evening in Edinburgh with Lorna - oh er!!!

Very excited...

as If I already didn't have enough dates on my Ramadan Revelry tour this month- I have now added a NEW date!!!

In my hometown, Edinburgh. An unoffical fringe show , if you like!

Hope you can make it along....

when?- 25 August · 19:30 - 22:00

where?- Kitsch Coffee Bar, Bernard Street, Leith

"A special chance to enjoy the dancing of the fabulous Lorna of Cairo, plus support, in Edinburgh. Tickets £10 including nibbles.

This is a very small venue for an informal and intimate evening.

Move fast to avoid disappointment! For tickets, contact Elspeth SwishandHips on 07748 183171 or on swishandhips@hotmail.co.uk . You can paypal if you have a verified paypal account, or post a cheque first class! "

This WILL sellout fast!

so............ Leeds and Birmingham this weekend.... Edinburgh mid week then Glasgow next weekend...

Lorna is officially DOING UK !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and LOVING IT !!!


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Workshops in Edinburgh 4th sept 2010

Swish and Hips: Workshops with Lorna of Cairo: "Well, it's Ramadan and that means that the very wonderful, super-talented amazing dancer Lorna of Cairo is back in the UK for a few weeks! ..."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More video!!!

Yet another video of my emergance (entrance dance), wearing yet another Eman Zaki costume... a black one this time! I have been filmed dancing to this piece of music more than any other.... but I figured I'd add it here anyway- since its a very recent recording! I love that these had their titles in Chinese (or japanese??) and a dancer discovered them and sent them to me (thanks Barbara!!) Scary what might be on youtube and you never know about it!!!

Funky pink

somebody recently found this of me... dancing in my funky pink Eman Zaki trouser costume- which I LOVE- possibly my favourite costume to dance in ever! Wearing it I feel like I go a little crazy... see what you think!!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Saqarah Show last Saturday... Lorna does London

Last Saturday night in London was the start of my Ramadan UK tour..... and it was a fabulous night...... Here is a snippet of most of the dancers who performed that night... only a tiny clip of me in there unfortunatly (because his camera battery died before my final set- grrr) but you get to see a rather nice wee impro oud takasim... with a lot of shimmy in it. Some of the cream of London dancers are in there too- check it out!

Dancing to a band other than my own was interesting... and I really missed my tabal especially... but overall i think it went ok... and the atmosphere was fabulous. Of course the time keeping wasn't, so many people missed my last dance... but that is pretty much what you expect working with Egyptian musicians!

Fingers crossed we can get some more video online soon from this event, especially that last set? - not to mention the workshop photos! I really enjoyed the workshops- The Place is such a lovely dance venue! We covered a lot and the brains sweated more than the bodies... but i think it went well!!!

Next weekend Leeds and Birmingham!!!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Confused audience

My last blog (that wasn't advertising for my upcoming tour!) was all about unappreciative audiences.... I just realised that I should write also about the good stuff too- cos it is way too easy to focus on the negative!

Tonight I had three seperate tables of people all come up to speak to me after my show... all of them (mixed groups from Egypt, Lebanon and Dubai) all asking where i was from because by looking at my face they were sure I was foreign, but then watching my show they were convinced i was Egyptian. Thank God! I can't do much about my face, well, I could but frankly the 'lets all get so much plastic so we all look like Nancy Agram' doesn't really do it for me! So I will stay looking non-Egyptian and confusing people by dancing Egyptian!

I love my job. I love dancing, even when my body hurts and my brain can't string a sentence together because I am so tired from shows every day... I still, when I am up on that stage, love it.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

more dates for my ramadan revelry tour!

I am very happy to be able to announce a performance date in Scotland this tour...

Friday 27th August

Nur restaurant, Glasgow
( 22 bridge st, Glasgow, tel 0141 418 0990 )

from 7.30pm

A night of dance with me, Lorna, and a couple of local guest dancers too.

A chance to see all my lovely new costumes and eat fabulous Egyptian food too. It's a BYOB with no corkage too.... All that for only £22.50 if you buy your ticket in advance (£25 if you buy on the night- but since the restaurant only seats 50, there is a good chance it might sell out- so don't leave it til then!)

to book, collect your ticket from Nur, or call them on the number above and they can take payment by debit card.

check out their website; www.nur-restaurant.co.uk

Thursday, August 05, 2010


I have just this second realised that my reduced number of blog entries over the last year directly corresponds to my increased use of facebook. I blurt out my news quickly there in a one line status, rather than using the experience to write a whole wee story about it! hmm- Will try to start putting MORE into the blog although the juicy stuff is usually here anyway. (If you want to join the facebook craze I'm there as 'Lorna of Cairo aka Bellylorna' )

So,I am currently sitting with my feet in a basin of iodine.... yet agian the floor at work has ripped my feet open .. and this seems to work calming down the infection quicker than anything else. It's not an ideal situation, but still better than dancing with shoes. i hate that.

Last night I had a HORRIBLE night at work. Really... i was so close to just walking away and not doing last shows ( although granted just walking off isn't exactly possible when you are on a boat in the middle of the Nile!). Anyway, it started with a young girl there with her family, she was maybe 12 years old. I go round all the tables at work to see if anyone wants a photo, and usually i pick out most of the children for a little special attention- that makes EVERYONE happy, and even the most jealous of wives soften when i fuss over their little darlings. Anyway, this little darling, wasn't. She looked me up and down, made a sneer and using her hand in my face waved me on by... the hand signal when you tell someone 'imshi' i.e. 'go away'! I repeated the hand signal to her, to make sure I had understood what she meant and i gave her a look to kill. But for the life of me couldn't find the right words in arabic to tell her parents to teach their children respect for others and their elders. Especially one who is smiling and sweating all night for their entertainment! You have to blame the parents really.

Then... in the same audience ( and i had six shows yesterday, so it's amazing that the two horrible people were in the same one and unrelated!) a man decided that HE was the star attraction , not me. He got on stage in the middle of my entrance dance and wiggled about. Then throughout my entire show he heckled, non stop, as in barely taking a breath. I wish I could understand what he was saying, actually, maybe its better that I couldn't. Basically he had the entire room in fits of laughter, at my expense. The only reason i know what he was saying wasn't complimentary was the looks on my musicians faces- they all looked like they wanted to kill him. It's like having 6 fathers all seeing it as their job to protect you. Bless them. Anyway- the only comment I fully understood was that my body was from the devil. So I presume that rest of the comments, which were constant, were sexual too, especially since it was the men in the room who were enjoying it most and the women were trying to give me encouraging smiles - and filming my dance. I don't know what i should have done... but I felt horrible after... like I had been abused- i wanted more than anything to take a shower and wash his comments off me. Now I wish i had walked off stage towards him, and told him in English to please respect my show and respect himself then returned to the stage. But I didn't think of that at the time...you never do , do you? ... I felt stuck, and humiliated. So much for my arabic being good, it's obviously rubbish, or he was intentionally pharsing things in a way so i couldn't understand. Somehow i had to regain enough confidence to perform two more shows last night after that. They probably weren't my best shows ever.

Anyway, today is another day and inshallah all my audiences tonight will be fabulous!

Monday, August 02, 2010

days off

What do most normal people do when they have a day off work? thats right, do something different than their job. Me? well... I dance!!! Hmmm

yesterday I went to a Zouk class (at Stilleto) . It's the 1st class I have ever done for this dance form, but it won't be my last. I LOVE it. The music is what motivates me.. I'd love to get really good at this purely becuase of the music! It's amazing, like a mix of salsa and african and r&b. Music to feed your soul.

so between sitting on friends balconies chatting about what might be the outcome in the country after Mubarak dies... i was swishing my hair around zouk style ( as much work as a khaleegy workshop I tell you!!!)

then today... another day off... and I have 2 private classes. One is for a friend who is shocked that she has lived in Cairo so long and never learned the dance- a taster session of the basic moves- that will be fun.. especially after a little drink first to loosen us up!!!
I also had a class this afternoon with a group of girls from Ukraine. (They had booked my studio to use it for a class with Donia, who is the sister of Amani Zaki, and when they discovered they were coming to my house decided to have a class from me too)
Wow those girls can dance! They were so good at following. In fact, was a very strange class... what they wanted , and what they got, was me dancing for the whole hour and them copying! I loved it- they loved it- and are coming back later in the week for more. For me it was an intensive hour of performance practise in front of the mirror, which I am way too lazy to ever do without an audience. For them they got to see how I interpret the music and how I dance, not just how I teach dance. One girl named me the 'master of improvisation' I was pretty chuffed with that title!!!

Anyway... for anyone who ever wondered what I do with my life when I am not dancing... the answer is obvious- I dance!!!!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ramadan Revelry Tour- dates and contacts for workshops and performances

I feel like i haven't been blogging for ages- i miss it! This entry is going to be all about my Ramadan Revelry tour of UK and Ireland 2010.. since I have been receiving emails from people asking how to go about booking their place... and right enough- time is running out... ramadan is nearly here (you can tell because all the shops in Cairo have mountains of dried fruit and nuts piled outside their doors!).. but I promise soon I'll write more about life in Cairo!!!

So far... all the dates confirmed and contact details for booking are as follows......... If you are already friends with me on my 'Lorna of Cairo facebook page then you will be awware of all these events... but if not then here's the links so you can check them out!!!!

London- Sat 14th Aug- Workshops and Performance

performance info- http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=100782573311918&index=1

Workshop info- http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=100782573311918&index=1#!/event.php?eid=122324481131478&ref=ts

Contact- http://www.saqarah.co.uk/Lorna-Saturday-Workshops.html

Leeds- Sat 21st Aug- Workshops and Performance and Private classes

info on - http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=129992913680043&ref=ts#!/event.php?eid=129997457019477&ref=ts

contact- Sabrina on banateshorouk@leedsbellydance.co.uk

Birmingham- Sun 22nd Aug- Performance

Hafla featuring Lorna and some of the Midlands best dancers
Sunday 22nd Aug, 7pm.
Erdington Conservative Club, Orphanage Road, Erdington
Tickets £10pp (£5pp performers) ...Includes Buffet at 6.15pm

contact- Lisa on lisamckain@hotmail.com

Glasgow- Sat 28th Aug- Workshops

for info- http://www.facebook.com/?sk=messages&tid=1428678272040#!/event.php?eid=146738692007638&ref=mf

to contact- Imman on bellystylin@gmail.com or Suraya on suraya1@hotmail.co.uk

Edinburgh- Sat 4th Sept- Workshops and Private classes

for info- http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=100782573311918&index=1#!/event.php?eid=141426359220178&ref=ts

to contact- Elspeth on swishandhips@hotmail.co.uk
For private classes contact me direct!

Dublin- Sun 5th Sept- Workshops

for info- http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=125627300812527

to contact- Ciara on shahiradance@gmail.com or adele on adele.glenn@bt.com

Thats all for now.... althought there are a couple of potential things too to add- but will publish those detials if and when they happen!!!!

Friday, July 16, 2010


I am really loving performing saaidi just now... I think because I didn't have a stick for so long (mine was stolen from work). So now i can do it (bought new sticks!) , and i am loving it... esp in this costume by Amera el Kattan.... it just ripples with every movement!

Saaidi music works well with all the Arabs that have just suddenly appeared in Cairo too- this week. I guess they are making the most of the month before Ramadan, by the looks of it! Unfortunatly that means that a lot of Cairo's painted ladies have also become more apparent. It makes for a less than wholesome feel to a performance when you know who are in your audience! Ah well... there but for the grace of God and all that... Thank god i dance for the love of it, and not out of neccesity. The sights I see here! Scary!

Monday, July 12, 2010


What a day...
I felt so proud of myself, going through all my costumes and washing all the veils.. getting those impossible to remove lipgloss stains off them.... if anyone has any specialist tricks for doing that I'd love to hear them!!!

Unfortunatly, the stain remover i used... does actually say in bold 'not to use on silk'.... but I noticed that AFTER i took my lovely red SILK veil out the water where I had been lovingly washing it in said stain remover. Silly silly me. Also, i figured that if i machine washed veils that were all synthetic the colours wouldn't run... well they didn;t- apart from one..... onto a lovely cream/gold veil, which is now 'bambi' ie baby pink! grrr. I was incrediably annoyed with myself!!!

Anyway- i figured they all looked so pretty on the line that a photo was called for and only after i had finished i noticed that i had a washing line full of veils and bikinis.... oh what a life I have!!!!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Learn arabic with CD's


I love it.............. I can't recommend this course enough...

I am still working my way through it... but even the intial 2 CD's taught me things I didn't know after living here in Cairo for over 4 years. The instruction is easy to follow... and learn and use straight away. They use Egyptian 'ammeya' ie what you need for life and work in Cairo! It's worth every penny!

If you want to learn to speak arabic THIS is the way to do it!

I used this course (ie Michel Thomas) for french years ago... and it really worked... after 8 hours listening to the cd's in the car i could understand and speak passable french (its gone now- not used it for years- but thats my fault- not the course!) I have been waiting ages for the arabic version to come out and am so happy to have it now and that its in Egyptian dialect!!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Why can't i dance without rivers of sweat dripping from my chin???

I wish i could.

Some dancers don't sweat at all...

I am NOT one of those.

I've joked that all the water in the Nile is actually the sweat that has dripped off the bodies of all the dancers who have performed on the Nile over the years! Well... that would probably be cleaner that the actual Nile water anyway!

Some people have told me that if I dance with less effort i won't sweat as much.

If i dance with less effort i won't enjoy dancing and therefore people won't enjoy watching me.

so I'll keep on sweating.....................

................ sorry... i should say glowing shouldn't I?

I'll keep on glowing!

I guess the 40+++ tempratures don't really help. On saturday night at 1.30am it was 35deg. In the middle of the night! Thank god for air conditioning! Growing up in cold, wet Scotland all my life, I never thought I'd say that!

any tips for sw.... sorry... glowing less on stage I am happy to hear them!??? So far i wear oil free foundation so that my mascara doesn't end up on my chin... and lots of pressed powder so calm to waterfall..... but other than that- no ideas........ help?

Oh the joys of a dancers life!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Busy Back.

The tourists are here...

well, they always are in Cairo really, but recently we have started getting more and more coach loads of them coming to the Pharoahs boats for lunch cruises... so I have been performing a lot in the mornings too, not just at night!

Sorry to say it, and i don't mean to offend anyone, but I have to admit... I dread it when those buses are full of Russians. I am sure they are lovely people... but they tend to make for a very cold audience. Even the children often give me an icy glare when i smile at them. I find it amazing that people film my dance on their camerass and mobile's and then don't give anything back, good enough to film, but not to applaud? There have been lots of Italians too.... they love it when you pull someone from the group up on stage. The Americans usually make the most receptive audiences.... lots of loud applause at the end of each song- lovely. The Japanese of course give you lots of lens contact.... and the Brits are the ones who fully get my sense of humour.

Anyway... lots of work- thats a good thing right?

.... right.... when i am in full fitness. Which i was on friday. I'd been good- I'd had a class during the day, then done lots of stretching before going to work..... then on my 1st tummy pop in my 1st number... I popped my back instead of my tummy. I did the move right... but I think I must have been slightly twisted or something... anyway- my back felt like I had snapped something inside. However... i still have to complete that show, and do another 3 as well, that night!!!!!!!!!!!! 800mg ibuprofen didn't even take the edge off it..... It was NOT a good night. Especiallty since the last show was a massive crowd of Egyptian all celebrating a wedding.. and in party mood.. and i could only dance like a stick (or thats what it felt like to me) i was so disappointed with myself.

In the morning... no change......... still sore to walk, sit stand.... and of course hellish to sneeze (which i have been doing since i also have a cold- occupational hazard when you dance and sweat in a AC'd room each night). However, I had to go to work becuase I had an 11am sail in addition to my normal evening sail. Problem was, when I got there i go the news that it wasn't one sail... but 3 morning sails ( so that means 4 sails total in the day with the number of shows anywhere between 4 and 8).

I cried. Literally- when i heard what i was going to have to put my back through- I cried, and took more paracetomal!

In the end i did 6 shows...... and did a clenched teeth smile through them all........ I love my job , i really really do... but not when I am in pain! It hurt esp to do anything with any kind of forward back pelvic tilt.... so if you are a dancer, you can imagine that rules out a LOT of moves....

The positive slant on all of this? I played about with different angles to do moves and different moves to accent certain parts in the music where normally i would have done a camel, or twist or pelic tilt! In fact, it may, bizarrely enough have been a good thing long term for my dance since it forced me to explore alternatives... rather than choosing the move i would have gone for 1st.

Today I am still in pain. Still no rest (2 sails tonight).... although doing nothing all day and having a massage before work too, so fingers crossed that all helps.

I just have to say though, that i am not writing this blog to receive get well wishes or anything like that...or even to moan abotu what happened.... but because i wanted to tell you the Egyptian take on what happened.......

the 'fact'- I pulled a muscle/pinched a nerve- something like that- something physical- directly related to a movement i did and i felt it at the time!

the 'Egyptian fact'- you have a cold in your back.... what the....?


the 'Egyptian fact no. 2'- the more popular one- wait for it............ Someone watching me dance had a bad eye. ie the evil eye, or envious eye. So many Egyptians will say it for anything that goes wrong; a shoe heel snaps, you trip on a paving stone, you pull a muscle in your back.... that it happened because someone is jealous of you!!!!! Hence all the wearing of turquiose, and the 'hand of fatima' or 'hamsa hamisa' and holding your hand infront of you with the fingers sprea- 5 - the magic number to confront all evil with?!!!!!!


fingers crossed, or maybe spread!!!!, that tonights shows go well, without any jealous feelings attached from any audience member who might wish me harm!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Lorna in London... in August!

London too are getting excited about me coming over- more workshops and performances! Here's a copy of their events page too!!!

Start Time: Saturday, 14 August 2010 at 10:00
End Time: Sunday, 15 August 2010 at 00:00
Location: Studio 6, The Place
Street: 17 Duke's Street
Town/City: London, United Kingdom

Description.It's almost been a year since the incredible Lorna Gow Star of Cairo was in London and we are delighted to announce 2 inspiring new workshops!

As always workshop places will be strictly limited to allow you the greatest learning experience with this experienced and generous dancer who is 'living the dream' as a professional dancer in Cairo!

The workshops will again be fast-paced and challenging, and geared towards at least intermediate/improver dancers.

Workshop 1: Making the Most of Your Floorspace

As dancers we often find ourselves performing in a variety of different dance spaces mostly in cramped conditions, and occassionally on a large stage.

Drawing on her own extensive experience as a professional performer, Lorna will show you how to include different step patterns, moves and turns to fit any dance space you may find yourself in!

Workshop 2: Adapt Your Dance to Different Music Styles

Don't get stuck a dance rut! If you find yourself lacking confidence to try new dance styles, this is the workshop for you!

Lorna will take some basic belly dance moves and show you how to easily adapt them to fit whatever musical style you are dancing to such as Shaabi, Nubian, Oriental, Saiidi, Alexandrian etc.

Both workshops will be taught in Lorna's dynamic and exhilirating Modern Cairo style!

Don't miss out on this wonderful opportunity to learn from a dancer who has an incredible insight into the Egyptian dance world and Egyptian culture!

Early Bird Discounts available!

After the workshop, Lorna will be performing exclusively for Saqarah along with a hand picked line up of dancers!

Please see the Saqarah website for more information and to book:


Lorna in Leeds... this coming August...

Leeds are getting excited about my visit... and i am too...... Here's a copy of the facebook events page, I am guessing booking early is a good idea with the amount of interest so far!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, 21 August 2010
Time: 11:00 - 15:30
Location: Dance studio @ Fitness first, Redcote Lane
Street: Off Kirkstall Road
Town/City: Leeds, United Kingdom

Description.We are delighted to announce that Lorna of Cairo is coming to Leeds to teach and perform for us. Lorna currently lives and works as a dancer in Cairo and if you have seen Lorna perfom before you will know exactly why we are so excited about this event. For those of you who have not seen Lorna dance before here is a great opportunity to learn from her and get a glimpse into her fabulous style. Lorna is a fun approachable teacher and I guarantee you will get lots from these workshops

Workshop details

Golden Era Goes Modern
Lorna will explore the look and feel of the golden era dancers and how they still influence modern Cairo style today.

Time - 11am till 1pm

Lorna Style
Lorna has a distinct personal style that is a perfect mixture of drama, fun and power. In this workshop Lorna will be looking at these elements and how to incorpotate them into your own dance.

Time 1.15pm till 3.15 pm

One workshop - £20
Two workshops - £30

Please also see related event, "An Evening with Lorna of Cairo" - If you have seen her dance before you will not hesitate to come to this event, if you haven't seen her dance this is your chance and it's one not to be missed.

Lorna will be performing three sets for us with the lovely Adam Warne providing live drumming.

And there will be plenty of time to boogie the night away into the early hours.

What more could you want from a Saturday night??

Saturday 21st August 8 till late
Mook wine bar, hirsts yard, Leeds city centre
The cost of the evening will be £10 in advance & £12 if you pay on the door on the night. Please see related event "Workshops with Lorna of Cairo" for offer on workshops and evening package.

The cost for the evening event is just £10 however if you are a Banat Eshorouk member you can purchase two workshops and the evening with ticket for just £35. Membership to Banat is £5 for lifetime membership so it's a bit of a no brainer as we offer discounts on all our events thoughout the year to our members.

How to Book
Please send a cheque made payable to Banat Eshorouk to the address below and include your contact details and a note of what part of the day you would like to attend.....

Sabrina Owen
1 Summerfield Gardens
LS13 1AS

If you would like any more information please contact me on...

audience participation

the latest youtube update of my dancing..... dont' you love an audiences attention span.... the drunk friend gets all the film footage- the dancer on her own isn't interesting enough to film. *sigh*. ah well..... it's all part of a night's work....

Monday, June 07, 2010

I love Paris in the springtime


....... but I'm not so sure about in the summer!

I danced for Paris Hilton last week. She hired out my boat... for her and her friends (and security) for a sunset sail.

It started out well... everyone looking and smiling... Paris herself (dressed like a 'normal' person in cap, tshirt and jeans) even filmed me on her iphone (which had a lovely sparkely cover). However... the concentration span was short and by the end of my 1st dance she had opened had laptop (apple mac) and was sitting with that in front of her and her huge dark glasses on.... for the rest of the sail! When I did a costume change she did pause for a second to take another snap (fashion ideas???) and then back to her computer.

No she didn't have the wee pooch with her.... maybe she was talking to him on msn?

It was a very demoralising show... thank god for the people she brought with her. There were 3 tables... Paris and her girls (all young and beautiful and cosying around her computer, one her photographer, the others i don't know who), one table of well-heeled young Egyptians and the table of security. Thanks god for the Egyptians and bouncers!!!! At least from their reactions i KNEW that the lack of interest from Paris wasn't anything to do with my dance!!!

I assumed that we wouldn't be doing the usual going around the tables to do photographs thing... but the photographer indicated that i should.... so I went up to Paris table and said, 'hello ladies....... would you like a photo?' well I was in work mode wasn't I? anyway- i didn't really think about the pause before they answered yes..... not until i was back in the changing room... but i am maybe the only person who has asked Paris if she'd like a photo with me!!!!! hehe

Anyway, it was an experience... and Paris has me dancing on her iphone.

Playing with Melaya leff

It took me ages to perform on the boat with Melaya- cos i always used to feel I *had* to wear those flowery short dresses to do it in.... which is ok for that one dance, but to then do anything after is limiting!..... then i decided on the trouser costume as an alternative- and i love it! I really do have so much fun when i dance these songs and play with the audience like this. Cheeky doesn't get a look in!

Thanks Adele for filming these when you were in town!

Dancing to Warda

I love this song...Ehdono-el-Ayam..... all about holding onto the good days, hug them to you, because the days of love can run away from you!