Friday, January 23, 2009

utube - and theres more...

seems like each time I discover a new utube posting of myself dancing -someone points out more to me.... Thanks caroline for noting these...........

There are links here to a couple more performances of me....
and also some links to some other dancers currently perofrming in Cairo-worth a look. The Rhanda ones are to die for ( yes- I am still a hopeless fan!!!!)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

'wild' animals on the way to Alex

Yesterday I went for a day trip to Alexandria. On the way up the road my friend,Sherif, and I decided to stop on the road at 'Lion Village'.

It was the most bizarre restaurant I have ever been to. We didn't eat, but we walked around the grounds.

They have the strangest assortment of animals I have ever seen together in one place.

Lions, to chickens,
tigers to monkeys,
ducks to hyenas,
cats to tortoises,
turkeys to vultures,
dalmations to lamas,
'toy' dogs to reindeer.

I didn't ask- but I suspect that they breed the pedigree dogs in order to fund the keep of the other animals. I couldn't really workout otherwise why so many dogs of different breeds-and almost all with puppies.

All the animals looked healthy to me ( although I am no expert on the matter!) apart from a couple of the monkeys which were repetativly pacing their (very small) cages.
The big cats looked very healthy- but sad... and again, in really small cages.

The Lions were also in heat. I have never heard a sound in my life like the mating call of a lion- a roar which goes through your stomach like thunder!!!

They do a tourist 'circus' show with the lions for coach loads of tourists... and a group of koreans were there the day we were. We didn't watch the show though- so I couldn't tell you what went on.

The restaurant is reasonably priced- and worth a day trip out in its own right aswell as a fabulous way to break up the trip to Alex.

More utube

The girls who are organising workshops for me in London in March this year have put a promo video online for you all to see how i dance.....

while I was in utube I had a search for bellylorna- and there are a couple of other entires in there too (ironically filmed the same night!!!)

hope you enjoy.... I'm always so nervous about having video of me dancing.... never ever happy with what I see. Ah well- live and learn!!!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cairo Circus

Today was another busy day filled with lots of wonderful Cairo moments...

Square burgers at Route 66 in Maadi for breakfast ( i know- burger for breakfast????) anyway.. then after a drive round the pottery area in fustat then I went to Manial, to the Nilometer. not much in there...
but its really old, with a very beautiful ceiling....
and Egyptians get charged a LOT less than tourists! The best thing there though was the peace and quiet. My friend and I sat by the Nile for about 2 hours- just soaking in the silent ( well- lack of 'dousha' anyway!!!) and watching the rubbish float by on the Nile... we saw some odd things. a perfect round of bread, an aubergine, a shoe... you can imagine I'm sure. The sun was shining and it felt nice to be chilling, but not chilly.

Next we went to the Cairo tower. I have NEVER been up this thing before... and always meant to... but its 65le for tourists and only 20le for Egyptians ( managed to get in as Egyptian so pretty chuffed!!!!). The view from up there was stunning... really. I wish we had got there maybe 10 min earlier so we could have fully seen the sunset... but it was still amazing....... highly recommend it.

Orangette in Zamalek is a cafe on Sharia Gabalaya and they do the BEST Oreo Madness dessert ever- its huge.... ice cream fans MUST try this one!!!

Then the big event for the day- the National Circus!

The circus is in a big tent ( no surprises there) on Sharia Nile, in Agouza (just beside the Balloon theatre). We had been told on the phone that the show was 8.30-10.30pm but that wasn't true- it started at 8pm.... and finished 10pm. Tickets ranged from 50le front seats to i think 20le for back. Front seats were worth it!!!

The whole tent smells unfortunatly of urine... assuming its the animals but.... well I wont dwell on that thought. However, the colours of the tent are fabulous- beautiful decor. Live band too througout entire show.

Dont know what we missed out on in 1st 20mins, but we saw clowns, jugglers, acrobats, rope gymnasts, cute dogs jumping hoops and skipping rope , knife thrower, trapise, everything really.... fantastic showmanship... I have seen a few dancers on stage both here in Cairo and abroad who could learn from these circus performers a few things about audience interaction and stagemanship. I think also that being on stage myself means I find it hard now to watch ANY type of show and not try to imagine what life must be like for the people on stage. Imagine being that girl in her hijabb standing in front of the board to have knives thrown around her - and seeing her eyes blink at every throw, and watching the silent prayer uttered through tight lips..... a huge new dimension to the show!

thre were even phtographers going round the crowd (mainly the arabs in the crowd...) with a VERY cute baby lion and a huge snake to wow the crowd and get some more money out of us!

and then there were the lions..........


beautiful animals. 6 lions and 3 tigers. in one huge cage with one man.... he handled them really well and they all looked well fed and fairly content.... not that I know a lot about these things ( but I had been very worried about that side of things after my trip to the zoo last year!!!). The speical moment in the entire show was one tiger- older and HUGE- did one jump from one podium to another... and I swear time stood still. It was like watching something out a kung fu movie where everything had been slowed down. This massive beast looked weightless in air... possibly the most beauitful thing I have ever seen... I could have watched just that over and over all night. I think that not only did my breathing stop during the second of the jump - but that my heart did too.... truely awesome- in the non american meaning of the word!

People who know me well, know that although I have nothing against animals, and quite like them really- I do not gush over them or even oh and ah much.... However, these huge cats were something else... and to watch this man risk his life in that cage with them and handle himself with such power and control was an experience in itself.

I loved the circus and will go again- inshallah!!!!

An Indian meal to round of a fabulous and interesting day.............

oh Cairo. Never, Ever, Ever boring!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Book Review, long overdue

I was reminded by a friend today that I used to write a lot in here about the books I have read. I haven't done that for a while... partly because I went though a phase of not being able to get my hands on anymore translated arabic novels, that I hadn't already read (I figured most people who read the blog are more interested in these) and partly because I got so carried away with life I forgot that some people really like to know these things!

I feel my blogging standards have gone downwards in direct correlation with the increase of houseguests.........!!! sorry guys..........

so....... my good friend Emily leant me a lovely book which I just finished this week.

A Border Passage
(from Cairo to America-A womans journey)
by Leila Ahmed
published by Penguin Books.

It was interesting on many levels.

firstly- written by an Egyptian woman ( and I meet so few Egyptian women that its hard to believe I actually live in the same country as them- so any insights as to our similarities and differences are always welcome!!!!)

secondly- Leila comes from an educated 'westernised' family and makes some very interesting observations on education and culture in both Egypt and UK, and especially about the way 'europe' as a culture was viewed at that time in Egypt.

thirdly- 'that time' being the years around the revolution.......... with lots of things emotionally , politically , financially culturally going on................

forthly- being interested in womens issues and rights, Leila is writing about all of this from the womans perspective- the discriptions of daily life at home with other women and their various interactions were what glued me to the book.

what can I say? Thanks Emily for lending it to me.......... and I recommend it to anyone interested in Egypt, Egyptian politics, and in what it means to be an Egyptian woman.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Club-hopping in Cairo!

Tonight was mad. I had planned a night in... working on all my many outstanding emails...
then i decided... no- I need to go out.

So I met a friend and we went to La Bodega in Zamalek ( a nice place for a drink and chat in a mixed expat and Egyptian crowd), then to Pub 28 ( which had an older more seditary crowd in it)

Then I called another friend to see if they were free and we went to Mojitos at the Nile Hilton.... That was pretty empty (and they have done a horrible thing- a temporary ceiling with ruffled satin lining- you feel like you are in a coffin!)... then we really began our tour of Cairo's nightspots.

Latex ( Nile Hilton) had a very empty R&B night (seemingly tuesday night is the best night for that!). Sat night ladies get in free- I could see why.

Ritmo in semi Ramis intercontinential looks posh and was also quiet ( granted it was 2am!)

The Buddah Bar at the Sofitel el Gezirah has to be seen.... they have a HUGE statue of a Buddah- right in front of a massive window onto the Nile- it is cultural clash but amazing well done. The restrooms in the hotel foyer are rather lovely too- with terracotta tile with matching colour of grouting (believe me- its worth noting!!!!). That hotel has a lovely terrace area just on the Nile side to sit and smoke sheesha and drink tea - although we were rather late to do either. A very romantic spot though.

Grand Hyatt hotel was next on our 'pub crawl' of Cairo. The Hard Rock Cafe was buzzing... but unfortunatly full of sleezy arabs - by the time we had taken 20 steps inside the place I felt like I had been mentally undressed by the same number of men. NOT nice. It was strange to see a place I consider to be a restaurant done up like a nightclub though... dance floor and DJ. We left sharpish though and went for a play in the lifts!

40th floor at the Hyatt makes your ears pop- really - its like take off in a plane. The revolving restaurant there shuts at 11pm... so we also missed the lounge area there with the water feacture time.

Four seasons Hotel (garden city) was just accross the road... so we wandered over to see what they had on offer. They have one bar.. called Zaytouni (olive) , which looked like a hotel waiting lounge- actually all their restaurants do. ( spice, steak esp)- all fairly non excting. There was one restaurnat called Aquas which had beautfiul fish tanks with HUGE fish in them ( animal lovers dont go- i am sure those tanks are not large enough for the fish!!!)

So... we did then conside checking out the other four seaons ( in Giza) but decided it was a little late ( at 3.30m) to see if anyone was in club 35 or in Indigo bar..... so instead.... we went to a new a rather fabulous takeaway food shop in sharia mohiden abdul aziz, mohandiseen, called Abu Kofta. They had a shop in Port Said which proved so good and so popular that they are trying their hand at Cairo now- I believe they even have a website!
Then we sat in the car eating Hawoushi (meat inside bread that is then deep fried-as amazingly tasty as it is bad for you!)

so- all the 5 stars and then end up choosing to eat street food in the car!!!

It was a fabulous night. so much so, that I am just in at 4.20 am and felt I had to write all this down NOW before i forgot all the places we went!

Oh- and did I mention I had a house party on thursday which was so much fun that people would arrive, I'd greet them at the door, then i might see them again 3 hours later- and they had been in my living room the whole time!!! It was great- lots of Salsa, and at least 14 professional bellydancers- well- you can imagine can't you!!!!!

Life is very good just now. el Hamdullah !!!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Do's and Don'ts re Badly Behaved Belly!

What can I say? You have all been wonderful and helpful as ever….. I feel whenever I need an answer to anything at all, my blog readers are out there eager to support me! It seems like I am not the only dancer out there who suffers in this way!
Thank you all… I had so many responses that I have had to compile a list of do's and don'ts so I could make sense if it all………..


pills with acidophilus
ginger root tea
licorice tea
massage stomach
one teaspoon of lemon juice in a cup of warm water
peppermint tea
mint tablets
propolis -20 drops 3 times a day in water or with a spoonful of sugar
white syrup to protect stomach (Gaviscon?)

Foods to fill me up but not fill up my stomach……..

protein shakes instead of meals before dance
muesli bars or a cracker.
raw veg and fruit
rice noodles


black tea
mint tea ( this one confuses me- lots of you say mint is good- to the point of taking tablets even, yet some say mint is bad???)
fried food
chocolate ( the number 1 thing I live on!)
spicy food
wheat/gluten- ie bread and pasta! ( the number 2 thing I live on!)

Anything I have missed out????

Or of course……………… I can just continue starving myself when i have work and then binging when I don’t have work…. Which is my current answer! Seemingly- according to 'Dina'- don’t eat at all for 6 hours before performing since the stomach can't move properly unless totally empty!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Badly Behaved Belly!

can anyone help me out?

I am sick and tired of my stomach. I just can't seem to eat ANYTHING at all within at least 4 hours of dancing (and even then it still has to be fairly light otherwise I still suffer) . When I say suffer- I mean really truely- i get lightheaded and dizzy, sweat uncontrollably and feel nauseous with severe stomach cramps thrown in. Not nice. I take anti-acids to work with me, but they don't seem to have a great deal of effect, unfortunatly!

now the ideal solution of course is to eat 5 or 6 hours before I dance... which is all well and good... but if I have 6 shows in a day... how can I eat healthily and early enough to last the entire day/night???!!!

so far i try to have my main meal as soon as I wake up.... then live on chocolate between shows to keep the energy levels high, although if I haven't managed to eat in the morning, for whatever reason, then i tend to have a heavy meal just before bed- which isn't ideal either. Small meals or snacks dont even work- even a sandwich or a glass of orange juice can have an adverse effect on me!

I guess what i am looking for is a miracle cure to stop my stomach reacting to the food in the 1st place!

I know lots of dancers who can eat anything at all before they dance and not be affected- its not fair!!! Its driving me crazy........!

last night I danced at 4.30pm, then again at 8pm and again at 10.30pm. doesn't leave much space in the day for food and digestion! However- I am pleased to say, that despite the pain I performed 2 of my best shows ever. Maybe of course it was because rather than despite of the pain- I always find I dance well when the adrenadline is high ( like if I am late, or have people in the audience I really want to impress!)

It was a good night.... just wish my belly would behave!

Any tips????

Friday, January 02, 2009

Happy New Year!!!

I am just about to begin recovering from the festive season...........

Scotland for Christmas was good..... cold... and everyone around me had a cold or flu... but other than that good! Unfortunatly the visit was so short I didn't really get round everyone I had hoped to see- next time!!!!!

Then I get back to Cairo and am boiling hot from the difference in weather from there to here... that lasted all of an hour and then i was back to my normal Cairo winter shiver!!! It was lovely to come back to my busy busy flat! currently 3 girls staying... 2 of them professional dancers and one 'hobby' dancer... makes for some interesting conversations over breakfast (around 5pm usually!!!) and over late night cups of tea ( around 5am usually!!!!). Busy but fun!!!

New year was strange for me.... I had expected to be performing on the boat... but they had altered the schedule so I ended up being free until midnight... and then had 2 gigs after that. I spent the bells, sitting in a car on gamet dowal street putting on my make up as we were driving to my 1st gig of the night!- oh and we had just passed Santa Claus getting out a taxi!!!!

Both of the performances unfortunatly with CD rather than with my band- which I really dont enjoy so much at all. The 1st was on a boat and the stage was tiny and wobbly and the majority of the people in the room couldn't see from where they were sitting. I managed to get the people close to the stage on side... handing me tissues etc etc and dancing in their seats... but overall , personally it was a disappointing show. Lots of people with money- but not much class!

The next venue, a 5 star hotel in the town centre, however was very swanky... lots of both money and class... and the audience (all egyptians) were amoung the nicest I have ever danced for in Cairo! They were just lovely- danced, sang along, clapped along... just generally behaved as an audience should!! Thank you all- you made my new year just perfect and reminded me why I have chosen the life I have!

I was on a total high by the time I finished at 2.30am.... so I went with a few friends to a house party. These people had hired a villa in the middle of nowhere for the night, and had a sound system to rival any nightclub in town... and the techno music was pumping... and everyone was drinking and smoking dope.... and there were all of about 10 people there. Needless to say, we didn't hang around!!!!!!! A drive to the top of the mountian, moqattam, to see the view of Cairo within these 1st few hours of the new year... and then home around 6am.

Last night was a friends birthday- so that was another night of partying from 9pm til 5 am! oh my life is just so horrible....dont you think??? !!!

So... now you can see what I have been up to so far this year- all thats left for me to say is HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone who might be reading this... I wish you happiness and perfect shimmys for the entirety of 2009..........