Saturday, June 27, 2009

Flying cat!

Yesterday I was rushing to work and I saw a boy in my street running about making aeroplane noises and holding something tiny and animal in his hands... making it fly through the air. He went to put it down in a cardboard box and I followed him and saw it was a days old kitten. I shouted at him for playing so roughly with it...... it hasn't even opened its eyes yet! He didn't seem to know where its mother was either. As I walked off to get to work I realsied that dumped in a box, beside a container of water that poor wee thing wasn't going to survivie even the day.

I called Marte.

Marte is nuts about animals (I like them- but am allergic so tend to keep my distance). I told her what was happening and asked her to go check it out, bring it home if needby. She rushed downstairs and found a bowab (not mine) carrying it in a box that was full of water... as if they were trying to drown it! Rescue misson completed, Marte then had lots of running around to find a vet that was open on a friday. Cat is fine... no aliments that vet can see yet.. just starving!

Poor Marte has been up all night doing the 1 and half hourly feeds!!! Mind you- she wasn't complaining!!! A proud new mum!

It just did it's 1st poo ever and its umbilical cord just fell off too. It barely even looks like a cat its so small... anything between 3 and 7 days old.

If anyone out there has advice re new born kittens fire away- its all new to us.... thank god for the internet!

so what has this to do with Cairo or bellydance- I'll tell you.......

in Cairo - animals get far less well treated than they do in UK... because it's a struggle to keep your children alive, never mind a stray cat. A tin of baby cat formula cost 200le (around 20 sterling). That could keep a child alive for a month!

and bellydance? well- I dont know many dancers who stay here for any length of time who dont have a cat!!!! I guess we all succumb to it at some point? Nice to have something to welcome you home at 3am when you get in from work maybe? But i REALLY didn't think it would happen to me! Well- once he/she ( it's too early to tell) is no longer being fed by the bottle i think it'll have to go to a new home. My sinuses are a nightmare at the best of times with Cairo pollution without adding allergy to that as well!!!!

For now we have to think of a suitable name for him/her !!!!..........................

I have photos.... but my camera lead seems to have disappeared so I can't download anything.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lovely work.........

I am really happy at work just now.

1st of all its tough- cos I want to spend time with my house guests... so thats what makes it all the sweeter that work is actually going well. I'd be gutted if it was a drag!!!!

Tonight I only had 2 shows (2 sails with a deck only each). The 1st sail they changed the normal running order to put me on second and the cover band on 1st (ie when people are eating) and it was WONDERFUL. It meant that the people who didn't want to watch bellydance could go sit outside... and weren't trapped there while they ate having to watch me. However then vast majority stayed and of course , they had chosen to stay for the show and I had their full attention. It was amazing. Really lovely audience, lovely vibe- and my musicians really pulled out all the stops and did me a good show!!!

The the 2nd sail , i was on during the food unfortunatly ( although- to be honest- I prefer to dance before the stand up comedian fill heads with ideas which I'd rather my audience didn't think while they watch my show!!!) so all good. The best was that as soon as I got onto the stage and could look around my audience I realised that a couple who used to come regularly last summer ( and I mean like 5 times in a week!!!) were there in the front table! I couldn't help the smile... was so chuffed they had come back again! I danced my heart out- just for them (wish it had been filmed- would love to see some of the new stuff I felt I came out with, not sure where these moves get stored- not in my conscious brain thats for sure!!!)- but the rest of the audience got carried away with it all too and were just a pure delight.

Old women hugging me... young women making sure they had their photo taken with meto show their friends, Children were sent to me at the end to show off the photograph of them with me. Eyes on me the whole time, despite them having to eat at the same time I was performing! Just LOVELY LOVELY LOVELY. wish every night was like that.

Then my band actually WANTED a rehearsal!!! Yes- you read that right......!!! We went up to the top deck and went through a new song. I'm inspired. To have my band actually keen to work well and do new stuff is just so empowering... I feel I just want to sit for hours with my itunes and choose lots of new music for them to work on while they have the bug!!!!!!!!!!!

It was such a quick night...... but fun. These nights really make up for the difficult ones!!!

The London girls leave for the airport in an hour- I'm going to miss them. I love having a full house of bellydancers! Thankfully a school friend is here to stay for 2 weeks... so its not like I'm going to be at a loose end!

My spare room is available though most of july and august if anyone is mad enough to want to come and sample the heat of the cairene summer?????!!!! .........

.........Sweat is running down my back and off my chin as I type this ( current temp 27 deg) - at 5am- don't ask why I am not sleep at this time- I have no idea... just still on a high from tonights shows I think!!!!

oh- and the girls went to the closing party of Nile group festival yesterday and said that Asmahan did her best show ever and had EVERYONE there with their mouths wide open watching! looked fun- esp with the African dancing boys in grass skirts!!!!!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Suraya does samba

I was so good yersterday. 5/6 hours of stretching, toning and watching dance dvd's - ie studying. Was very proud of my self. It's stuff i really should do daily, and get round to maybe monthly!!!

We went to see Suraya last night.


She danced 'Alf leila we leila' to the violin. Breathtaking.

We wondered at her managing to keep a green dress on- since it seemed only to be held together at the sides with a couple of thin straps of diamante. Not sure how that passes the 'mostanafats' eye and yet my Eman galabeya doesn't ? ??? Anyway- beautiful.

My favourite outfit was her melaya (in school uniform- not quite but almost- short sports skirt and bunches and knee length black socks) she was fantastically cute and flirty and just perfect!

The drum solo was massively samba influenced.. to the extent that the band actually stopped playing so a samba CD could be played for a while- it was fantastic. She really pulled it all together well. Lets face it- only Suraya could actually carry that off here in Cairo!

The last time I saw Suraya I liked it but wasn't blown away. This time she seemed much more alive and enjoying herself up there. Wonderful show.

Friday, June 19, 2009

London bellydancers do Cairo.... in all its glory.

The girls went off to the Nile group festival this morning for a workshop with Aida Nour. I have to admit- I had a long lie (was bliss) and then taught a private class in my studio.

We headed for an American style lunch.. at Chillis- fabulous- BIG food and a waiter called johnny who skidded to a halt as soon as his name was even whispered and brought iced tea before it was even requested!

then a walk to Amera el Kattans where I got to try on my new costume ( yummy!) then off to Emans costume shop for a fitting for one of the girls and I ordered another costume... ooops... couldn't help myself! Then we dashed off to the Sawy centre in Zamalek to see a show....

but not just any show


the ....

wait for it.........


Abdul Halim Hafiz PUPPET show................

It was possibly the most bizarre thing I have ever seen. Original Halim songs.. but with the full orchestra in puppet form performing it! Ok... so Once we stopped laughed (oh- and after one of the girls gave a TV interview about it all!!!!) then yes- we could appreciate how good the puppeters were- all the musicians played their instruments just when they should with the music.......... but really......... I cannot describe it... the photos say it all. Cairo's answer to the thunderbirds.
The most surreal thing I have ever seen. (seemingly according to the cairolive events blog- the 1st recorded puppet show was in Egypt in 2000BC !!!!!)
Oh and they also do an Om Kalthoum puppet show. .....( check it out if you don't believe me!!!

A walk to Cairo Jazz club took us past an open shoe shop which just had to have half an hour spent inside trying on EVERY shoe........... with one pair, the correct size, it was to be presumed , being delivered in an hour ( ie at 11.30pm!)- they did get the shoe from another branch- but they had ordered the wrong size... oops.. guess the bling went to their heads...

A 'rock' band next in Cairo Jazz club, who played everything from The Police to George michael to Duran duran to .. Oasis. .... oh- and there were 2 guys in there who looked like Jesus. One, the origional- skinny Jesus- and one the American good-living sup-ed up version- big broad musclely thick jaw jesus. Most entertaining. You can imagine the jokes....

The drive home was yet another experience. Egypt beat Italy in football tonight 1-0. I'll repeat that. Egypt beat Italy! The streets were MOBBED in mohandiseen. EVERYONE was on Gamet el dowal st with flags and drums and horns and generally dancing in the streets. A fantastic vibe- and all without alcohol. Egyptians really know how to celebrate.

so recap.... in one Cairo day

-Aida dance workshop
-American lunch with more food than we could eat
-costume shop- bling
-drinks on the balcony ( forgot to mention that earlier!!!)
-A different costume shop- more bling
-A PUPPET show- sore jaw from all the laughter
-a rock concert- with Duran Duran songs....
-a football riot- without alcohol

Cairo.................... you just have to love it.

Otherwise you would go mad!

( oh- and there is probably stuff I forgot about too!!!!!!!!)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

London Bellydancers- part 2 !!!

This week i have Eleanor (Eshta) and Nafiseh (of fame) London staying with me.

They are here to participate in the Nile group festival who had their opening show last night.

WOW what a show! LOVED it!

We arrived a little late and had missed Nancy's 1st dance. So when we arrived she was wearing a green catsuit with cut out panels which left NOTHING to the imagination. I have to say the each of the 3 costumes I did see her perform in had me wondering HOW she could dance in that... ie VERY short skirts, without showing Everything. I was kept wondering so much that I have to admit I can't even comment on her dance. at all. Surely the costumes should ADD to the dance- not totally distract you from it??? Anyway- she looked beautiful and sexy.

Nour was next. She is just beautiful... body and soul. Smiling, elegant, cultured, skilled, fun and totally in love with what she is doing. I was insanly jealous of whoever helps her put together her musical sets- she had a fabulous orchestra who moved seemlessly from one song into another and into the 1st again... beautiful. Her costumes are somewhat 'old fashioned' but I have to say- it was a relief after Nancy- since you weren't studying her body - you actually were looking at her moves, her face- that whole package. I had a romantic smile on my face the entire time she danced. Oh and she did one of the best drum solos I have ever seen in Cairo. Such a shame she normally only performs at weddings and there is nowhere other than the festivals where we can go and watch her do her thing!

and next.........................

Corpse bride ( )

That was the next act........... ok... so actually it was Camelia... and I wish to god I had a photo of her so you know what I am talking about.............

If Nour had me smiling romantically at her all night- Camelia had me alternating between laughing out loud and shocked. She certainly knew how to keep her audence Locked onto her! Magnoona !! ( Crazy!!!) She looked a little space cadet around the eyes it has to be said. She has extreme energy, humour and passion in her dance. I loved it. Her noteable moves were lifting her skirts up to show off her lycra shorts (at every opportunity) and swinging her hair around (including washing her face with said hair?!!!). Her sharp moves, hits, drops etc were to DIE for. strong bold sharp on beat- wonderful. Her lyrical interpretating needed some translation at times though... overall... an AMAZING performer. loved it. wanted to see more.. and more.... totally original... and inspiring.

Most people headed off to sleep then unfortuanatly and missed the best saaidi band ever... Hegazy had us up dancing on stage and in front of stage for nearly an hour.. which is pretty good going on a bad cold- but somehwo I held out- well- how could I not really.... with all those Rabab players and mizmar... not to mention the drums- it would be rude not to!!!

Amazing night. And that was the girl's 1st night in Cairo................... what else does Cairo hold in store for London Bellydancers... this week will tell all ( but not sure how much of it i can write on the blog!!!!!!!!!!! )

Tonight - just to drift off the subject slightly... i performed well. I felt. my second set i usually do saaid- Baladi- Tabla solo.... tonight I did ( twice and to great effect both times) Saaidi- Baladi- Lissa Fakir. I was nearly in tears (honest it wasnt just the sweat running into my eyes!!!). My band really can hold it together if the mood takes them- was proud of them, and I suspect them of me too...

This schedule is fairly full on... I am performing on the Nile Pharoah tomorrow (17th) and then 20th- 27th inclusive. Hope more dancers come to see me.......... so much more fun when dancing for people I know and who love dance!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

London bellydancer - part 1

I've not written for w while since I have been slightly busy with visitors!!!

Emily ( aka the amazing Shahla from London) was staying with me last night and it was a whirlwind week of me working everynight, but also going round costume shops with her all day everyday and then partying all night everynight- usually til 6am ( or even all night!!!) Fabulous. I love my life... but I can't keep up with it!!!

Tuesday night we went to the best R&B club in Cairo which is called Latex and is in Nile hotel ( was nile hilton) every tuesday. It's fabulous. it's a 100le minimum spend- but worth it. fabulous music and people who can dance!!!!!!!!!!!! I had a lot of FUN! This is the music that should me the one true path of enlightenment- that music and dance is what I live for and is the only thing that truely makes me happy. It all started in R&B clubs..... what can I say???

We went to see Suraya dance at the Marriot nightclub. She performs at 12.30am- but we were told 1am on the phone which meant we missed over half her show- was gutted and furious- as you can imagine!!!! Anyway- what we saw was great and we saw my 2 favourite things se does in her show- her violin takasim and her drum solo. Both stunning. i love her belly!

We also went up to Agamy on the north coast for the opening night of the nightclub on the beach there called la piste. It was a fabulous place and amazing night- til 6am... but horrible ending since somehow I ended up on dancefloor alone, surrounded by guys who had their hands everywhere... i was hysterical... felt totally violated and abused. Was one of the most horrific experiences of my life. I do recommend the club- but not after about 4am.. and not unless you are with guys who you know will stick by you and look after you. You need looking after in a place full of dogs like those. Yuck.

anyway...... that was last week................

Sunday, June 07, 2009


I joked with friends yesterday about my 'normal life'.... what a joke.

Work last night was entertaining. (Hopefully i was too!). First show was not great (well- not my best anyway) because I had a cold and I felt sorry for myself, however large a group of Americans who were there loved the show and one woman got up to dance and could dance really well. We had fun.

Second show went well at the start (I had friends in the audience- it always helps!!!). However, just before the saaidi part of my show my singer came to 'warn' me that the mosanifat (undercover police) were at the dock so i had to finish my show early so they didn't see me on stage. I said, 'but its all ok- my papers are all in order and my costume covers my stomach... so whats the problem?' Anyway seemingly it was and I still had to rush my show ( but thankfully still managed a drum solo that left my friends, and the rest of the audience, open mouthed!).

Nothing happened.

Then the next sail. I find out the police have come on board to moniter whats going on and also to check on upstairs, which has been hired out for a private party. This means I have to wear the dreaded shebaka (body stocking) which I HATE. It makes my belly button disappear which frankly just makes you look weird- like an alien or something.Not to mention being HOT and makes you sweat! The show went really well. Then the fuss; They wanted to see my papers (which were with my manager, not me- and he was out of town) and in the end we had to wait for someone to go to his house, collect my papers and bring them to the boat before i was allowed to leave (long after 2am!).

They also complained that my saaidi galabeya skirt was split too high, that I was showing too much cleavage and that i stood too close to the guests when I got my photo taken with them!

ok- fair enough re the galabeya ( but I did have shorts on underneath!) re the cleavage- I was chuffed to bits!!! ME ??? too much cleavage??? THANK you, was very happy to hear that- and all natural too!!!! re the photos... how bizarre..... you have to stand next to someone to be in the same photo, and if someone is likely to get the wrong idea- do you really think I'd be standing too close to them? I think they were just splitting hairs!!

so that was my night. Just another 'normal' day in the office. Oh, and at 1am I was told I might have to work til 4am.... but then at 1.20 they said no I didn't.

I love my job, I love my job I love my job.......... sorry - sometimes I have to remind myself why I put up with being 'judged' along with the other lack of organisation c**p !

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Circus Act !!!

I can't believe I haven't written about this yet... but here goes. A couple of weeks ago I was at work performing, and it was unusual because the tour group had booked the entire boat and wanted 2 dancers, one after the other. So Leila and I shared the trip. She would dance upstairs while I was downstairs and then we'd swop. The group were all men, from India.

My 1st show went well... they were quiet- but attentive. I actually enjoyed dancing. Leila however finished really early- and when I get back to the changing room - I found out why... upstairs the men had been so excited about seeing a dancer that they had crowded the stage , leaving her a postage stamp sized space on the dancefloor to perform in- obviously (and rightly!) she left the stage!

I was very nervous about going upstairs and performing after what she had told me about the group but seemingly for 20 min between her show and mine, the men had been getting a lecture from the tour operator about respect and staying in their seats. So by the time I danced, they were about to contain themselves throughout my entire 1st dance anyway. It was in my 2nd number that it all went pear-shaped.

One guy stood up, far from the stage, but he wanted to see better. However this blocked the view of the men behind him who complained. He refused to listen (at this point it's important to note that part of thier package had been unlimited free spirits!!!!). When he refused to sit the men behind became heated and volitile and threw a knife at him.... yes a knife (a table knife rather then kitchen one, thank god!!!). The man ducked and the knife landed hitting my feet on stage!!!!! I quickly picked up my veil and walked very quickly off stage!!!!!!!!!!!!!! thankfully narrowly missing the beer cans which followed onto the stage (and one hit my tabla players knee!!!)

So thats how I became the girl who stands on stage waiting for the knives to miss her like a circus act.

I was annoyed... but not as upset as you'd imagine, or even as I'd have imagined! After all, it's not like they were actually throwing stuff at ME... it was at each other- because they wanted to watch me! The demon drink ruled that night!

The tour operators were almost in tears with their apologies after and I said they had to warn their customers in future about the dangers of bringing shame to their country!! A few of the men who had behaved well upstaris were also falling over themselves trying to apologise to me. What could I say? they behaved like animals. It was shocking, and dangerous. Thank god no one actually had got hurt. What if that knife had been a little sharper, or ... oh it doesn't bare thinking of really!

This happened the night after the fire on the boat!

I have such an exciting life!!!

Wonder what will happen tonight!

Tomorrow Obama is coming to Cairo to talk with the Cairo University students... which should be amazing.. but of course.. the government have closed down businesses- telling shopkeepers to close at 8pm at night tonight and not to reopen til friday morning! Of course no one will give them any financial recompense for their lost business on one of the busiest days of the week in Cairo! Schools are closed too. It's a long weekend. I have work... just hope the roads will be open enough for me to be able to get there!!!

My work schedule over the next week or so is fairly simple. I am working 3rd-10th June inclusive. It's all good. I love having so much work and am really enjoying it.

NOT enjoying the thought of having to apply full stage make up, false eyelashes and hairpiece in 37 deg temp!