Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Dancing at Bab el Nil restaurant at Fairmont Nile City, Cairo

I've been working here officially two months now... And I am really happy.

The staff and very friendly and respectful- Seems like that should be a given in a five star hotel, but in my experience as a bellydancer in Egypt for the last 8 years respect is something we seldom receive. It is such a relief.

A beautiful venue that I can call home. To be dancing in the same place each time is something I have done in Egypt for years, but at last I feel appreciated and at home in this one. When I am dancing on stage I feel like the audience are my friends. That we are all just out to enjoy our evening as much as possible. That we are all in it together. I feel like I used to feel in Edinburgh when I organised all the dancing at a local Moroccan restaurant, Walima. That it was my place. Bab el Nil is my new home.

I have control. Over when I dance, where I dance, how I organise my show. Again. Such a relief to be trusted in this rather than micro managed. It means I end up doing more, giving more, so do my band, and we all enjoy it more.

I am being paid well enough to be able to treat myself to the pool/gym/spa membership here at the Fairmont. So before work I come to the pool for a couple of hours, then do a workout or stretch, have a lovely power shower before getting ready and resting in a beautiful lounge with a herbal tea or iced lemon water. My quality of life has rocketed up.

Oh and then there are the wedding bookings that are flooding in...

I'm not writing all this to boast or brag. Rather, I am very aware that often my blog posts of late have been quite negative... So I decided it was only fair if I share the bad stuff with you, that you get to hear that those hardships have been worth it. The roller coaster is on the up at the moment. Long may it continue!

Thanks for sticking with me through the lows... Come and join me at Bab el Nil some Tuesday or Thursday night and enjoy the ups too....

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Saidi swing

When dancing Saidi I feel
Tall, strong, empowered
Asaya raised proudly
I swing
You duck

R Kelly tribute

I swear I don't even try
Time stops and doesn't pass by
Like wine fills a cup
Dance fills me right up
And then I feel I can fly!

Shake it.

What is Bellydance?
I'm glad you ask,
There's a lot more to it than
Shaking your ......... Hips.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Why I dance. No6.

This dance is from Egypt
But I'm from the North
So I moved here from Scotland
To dance at the source

Photo by Fady Nada

Why I dance. No5.

Dance frees your soul
Dance keeps you strong
Pump up the bass
Rhythm pulls you along

Photo by Aimee Taberer

Why I dance. No4.

I must learn how to laugh
Without shutting my eyes
But then I'd be thinking
Not free
More like lies..

Photo by Aimee Taberer

Why I dance - no3.

Dance is a long journey
Full of work, aches, and pains
The reward? 
See their faces, 
See the joy your art brings.

Photo by Aimee Taberer

Why I dance- no2.

I dance my love
I dance my pain
Dance eases sorrow
And keeps me sane

Photo by Kay Taylor 

Why I dance - no1

Dance when you're winning
Dance when you're down
Dance creates joy
To Banish that frown

Photo by Aimee Taberer

Monday, April 07, 2014

Boredom: depression's friend

It's so easy to complain about things in Cairo... Things never seem easy. I have a tendency to be more negative than positive, which I know isn't healthy, so I will try to remember the things I take for granted and be thankful for them too...

I have done this once before, many years ago, written a blog about all the good things about living here... And here goes again...

Tonight I am writing this on my ipad, in my changing room, - I have a changing room and an ipad!

Waiting between sets for my band to start, - I have a band!,

Between sets on stage - I have a stage!

At Bab el Nile restaurant in Fairmont Nile City Hotel- I have a contract in one of the loveliest hotels in the city and work visa to boot!

It's quiet tonight- but there is still work!

And the people are here are all Egyptian- I have Egyptians in my audience!

The wind is freezing- but freezing is relative,I'm dancing outdoors in April, ie it's not UK.

My labisa (dresser) failed to answer her phone yet again so I am here alone again - I normally have a dresser! AND a very Scottish point here- I have saved tonight the cost of her earnings!

Because I am alone and sitting in costume - a very pretty saidi costume!

I cannot go and tell my band their break is over- I get to decide my running times!

So I just have to sit and wait til I hear them play again.....

......And that was the point they started to play!!!

In Egypt I often get down. Yes, in a dance way, but also in a mood dip kinda way too. Doing even the smallest things seem daunting and difficult. Even just charging my phone, or paying a bill.  I get wound up by the smallest of things and yet other massive issues will land on me and I'll brush them off easily as if they were a mosquito. Rhyme and reason don't seem to play a part. I am often angry, frustrated, stressed, but never bored.  Never ever bored.

I remember my entire childhood going around saying I'm bored, over and over again.

I found my solution: Cairo.

Heightened emotions, negative and positive, but never boredom- that opposite of emotion. That dreaded, flat, dead state that drains me and allows the depression to grab hold. On the roller coaster of emotions that is Cairo, exhaustion is more likely to hand you over to the devil depression rather than boredom.

I must remember the emotions are good. Even the negative ones: anger and frustration.... And I must keep remembering to search for the good in each situation. That's my challenge. Wish me luck!

Oh, and by the way- when the band did play again, despite my frustrations in the changing room that inspired this blog entry, I went on to do one of the best shows I have done in a while. I felt alive and empowered and full of joy and strength. My band and I were on fire. The audience with us, small in number but large in spirit. (And by that I do not mean they were drunk!!) I left work feeling so much better than I had arriving there.

And that has to be the ultimate upside to all of this;  Doing my job makes me feel great.

Hurrah for Cairo and for dancing, and especially for dancing in Cairo!

And a huge thanks to Kay Taylor of Farida adventures who took this fabulous photo of me on stage at Bab el Nile.  Not the same night, but it's the first shot I have of me in action at my new venue! 

And.... Just in case it needs said... That smile is genuine! 

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Shimmy by the sea... 2 !

Here are some more photos which show what a fun time we all had at Shimmy by the Sea...

Week one girls;

 Week 2 girls;

Silly bra time;

More silly bra shots:

And more...

Trip to the chippie in Hastings... 

Saidi workshop:

And the sexy baladi workshop:

Some of us in the Penny arcades after the chip shop visit: 

And me hiding my gammy eye behind some rather glamorous ladies;

Om khalsoum put in a guest appearance to my improvisation class:

In the pink....

And my oriental workshop had everyone warmed up on the first night:

Thanks to all of you whose photos I stole from Facebook to include on this blog. I love you all!!! 

and for your viewing pleasure- another video clip of me dancing at shimmy by the sea... this time a short clip from a rather crazy said inspired shaabi number... Thanks Pauline for filming and thanks June for transferring it to youtube for me to add here!

Shimmy by the Sea dance festival March 2014

It is lovely to see a bellydance event so successful that they have to do it twice! That's what happened to the UK dance festival Shimmy by the Sea where I was asked to teach and perform at both the weekends this year.

I flew over from Cairo, just for these two weekenders (and of course for the week of shopping in between!)

It is a small scale festival through choice, the organiser, Chloe Dent, likes to keep it friendly so prefers numbers of no more than 50. It was perfect. So many lovely ladies all together doing what they love, bellydance!

Everyone was staying in beautiful wood chalets around the grounds of the holiday camp near Battle (which is where the Battle of Hastings took place in 1066) and the classes were held in rooms in the main house. I got to share a chalet with some of the other teachers; Nawarra and Artemisia. It was good to have our own space to sit and relax and chat and we also ended up a few evenings round at Chloe's chalet since she had a hot tub! Much hilarity was had I can tell you. The laughs and chatter of international bellydancers sat in a hot tub must have kept the neighbours awake and entertained! (or they may have hated us.....)

I unfortunately managed to get a nasty eye infection the first weekend, so when I performed at the show night, at which everyone was all of a very high level I have to add, I looked like I was permanently winking at my audience! Thankfully Aimee Taberer managed to capture a few nice shots of me dancing anyway...

It was a lot of fun. Both times. The second weekend was like Dejavu though... which was rather weird, but at least the eye had cleared up by then! I liked the informal, relaxed mood of the whole event and if you are looking for a festival that gets that balance right between learning and enjoying dance and spending time with other women who enjoy it. This one is for you!

here's a wee video taken there by EverythingEgyptian of me dancing Shic Shac Shok;

Arabic in songs- commonly heard words;

It always helps whilst dancing to a song if you know what it means.
Sometimes a translation give you the meaning of the song but not the actually word for word direct translation. This is fine, but it helps if you can recognize a few of the actual words so you can indicate in your dance that you know them. 
Don't however feel you have to mime every word you hear. I've seen that done and it just doesn't work. But occasionally, if you mime a word here and there, it will give the impression to all Arab speakers watching that you understand the lyrics fully! 
This list is by no means exclusive... But hopefully you will find it useful and informative. 

Ana - I / me
We- and
Enta- you (m)
Enti- you (f)

Habibi- my darling (m)
Habibti- my darling (f)
Hayati- my life
Omri- my life , enta omri- you are my life
Hob- love
Baheb to love
Bahebik- I love you
Howa- wind, but also another word for love
Zay- like, similar to.
Zay il howa- like the wind

Elb / qelb- heart
Add an i on the end to make it possessive. elbi - my heart
Eid- hand, eidi- my hand
3Ein- eyes, eyouik- your eyes, eini- my eyes

Shams- sun
Amar- moon
Donya- world and also means life
Nour- light

Ouli- tell me
Sibni- leave me
Khalass- finish
Gambi- beside me
Ta-alli- come to me
Yalla- let's go
Shuf- to see
Bos- to look
Bosa- kiss
Faakir- to remember , lissa fakir- I still remember

Shwaya- a little
Fein?- where?
Taht- under
Foq.- above, on top. Min taht le foq.- from down to up (sexual connotations)
Mish/mush- 'not' - put in front of any word to negate it. Hinna- here , Mish hinna- not here.

Zaman- a long time ago
Dilwati- now
Abiden- never
Teni- again

Washtini- I miss you
Magnoon- crazy
Nar- fire/hell
Walla/ wallahi- I swear to god

Aywa- yes 
Ayoo- yes (Alexandrian)
La'a- no

Helwa- sweet/ beautiful
Gameela- beautiful
Gamda- strong (in sexy way)
Moza- sexy (In a curvaceous way)
Awii- very

These next two are popular in shaabi;
Ashra alla ashra/ sitta illa sitta/ maya maya- 10/10, 6/6, 100%
Coca- coca cola, ie shape like a cola bottle.

Bint- girl, Binet- girls
Waled- boy, 'ya waled'- an exclamation 'oh boy!'
Ragal- man
Sitt- woman
Besha- sir (from pasha)
Allah- god
Layla- night
Yom- day, ayam- days
Kool- every, kooliyom- everyday
Sena- year
Bahr- sea

As you can see, it's a bizarre vocabulary list for a language, but go see how many you can hear in the Egyptian songs you are dancing to! Hope it helps! 

I do not speak Arabic fluently by any means, but if you have the odd word or two you would 
Like me to translate (or ask someone better qualified for advice) please do leave a comment... 

Please do not ask me to translate entire songs... There are some fabulous sites already where you can find this, eg  www.shira.net