Monday, May 14, 2012

My Oriental Party night in Cairo

It was a strange night to try and put together... an Oriental theme party for the British club here in Cairo. I mean, these people live in Cairo, they know that all the images of orientalism that they had in their minds before they lived here, are only a small piece in the massive jigsaw.  That people do not actually look like they do in ‘I dream of Jeannie’, ‘Aladdin’ or go around in ‘Tommy Cooper hats’  (fez !)

If I had put this party on in the first 6months of coming to Cairo I think it would have been easier. As it was, after 6 years, my imagination was clouded by reality! I encouraged everyone to dress up... but it is strange asking people to wear ‘Arab outfits’ or galabeyas when they see this as the ‘uniform’ of either the rich Saudi’s etc who flock to Cairo each summer, and who seldom have very little love or respect for Egyptian people or culture... or dress as the bowab (the caretaker of each building), which is one of the lowest class jobs.

The foreigners who hadn’t lived here so long took to it very well. Some Egyptians refused to do it saying I am already dressed as an Egyptian (jeans, t-shirt)... I see their point. However many did dress up too and take it all in the fun way it was all meant. Some even arrived in a taxi dressed in the galabeyas and one girl said she was going on to the Jazz club afterwards still dressed in her baladi dress. I can only imagine how the people there would respond!

The evening started off with Said el Amar, the fabulous tannoura from the Pharaoh boat wowing everyone with his ‘smiling whilst spinning’ skills.

Stuart is a drummer from Scotland who is here in Cairo for a year studying Egyptian Tabla and he came along and performed his 1st ever Tabla solo for us. Impressive.  Watch out for this one dancers back home!!!

Stuart really was our saviour on the night because we had a power cut... so people switched on the torches on their iphones and lit up the stage, he drummed for us and we all danced!!! In fact, I think it really helped the overall atmosphere of the night with everyone much more relaxed with each other afterwards. It is lovely how people pull together when things go pear-shaped! Hmm.... I wonder if that could be staged for future events?!!!

I danced 3 times throughout the night... in various lovely costumes (all by Amira el Kattan, of Pharonix). It was a very appreciative audience and I felt very relaxed and my friend Ellie said it was possibly my best dancing ever (and she has seen me dance a lot since moving to Cairo a year ago). The saaidi dance certainly had lots of moves in it that I know I hadn’t performed before. Now the trick will be to try and remember them so I can do it again!

The only act I didn’t feel was appreciated as much as it should have been was my fabulous friend Hisham. He is an amazing dancer, very good technique with a fun cheeky manner too, and he performed a mergance for us (just in normal clothes- no costume or anything, he is not a professional dancer- just someone who loves it). But many of the men in the audience just could not handle it at all. They made certain assumptions about the man, just because he can dance very well, and judged him negatively for it.  I won’t repeat the comments but I was struck by how narrow minded almost all of these, supposedly westernised Egyptian men could be. Egypt has a long long journey ahead of it. Luckily, lots of people did recognise and appreciate the skill involved in his dance and I was very happy that he was there.

Ellie also sang some fitting songs for us to dance to. Well, it seemed only fair, since I go along to almost all her singing gigs and I asked her to sing at my dance gig! Shakira’s waka waka song starts off with a chant of my name ‘Lorna Lorna’. Listen to it! Also ‘walk like an Egyptian’ created some interesting dance floor moves. I couldn’t count how many Egyptian guys just walked (normally) across the floor ‘I’m Egyptian and this is how we walk’ being the joke...!

All in all it was a massively successful night. It was lovely to see some of the other dancers who live in Cairo come along to support me too. Thanks Ladies!

Before people ask- yes there will be photos. We had 2 professional photographers (thanks Kim and Sherif!) there and since they took so many shots of the night, it is taking them a while to sending all through to me- so there will be another blog entry with just photos on it soon!!!

Now, when and where will I hold my next Oriental Party Night.................. I had FUN !


Miss Vena said...

That sounded like a great night. Do you know if anyone recorded it?

Hope all is well. Have a good weekend.

Love and light - Miss Vena

Anonymous said...

A party of racist stereotypes and Orientalism- how fun! And the Egyptians who brought this up were "joking"- typical colonialist mentality strikes again.