Friday, September 29, 2006

Dundee+Fife Workshops

Its strange being home- I don't mind telling you I really miss the sunshine everyday... although it is really nice to see so much green. Fantastic seeing Khalid, my family and friends again- Shame its such a short visit and I can't see more of everyone though. Really glad so many people are coming into Morocco Walima to see me perform. Its is such a wonderful feeling dancing for friends (makes up for the audience not being full of over-excitable Egyptians!!!!)

anyway- Caroline has now confirmed the venue and details for the Dundee and Cuper workshops- please contact her directly to book! I'm repeating myslef putting this into the blog again- but just so everyone knows!!!!

Sat 7th Oct
Dundee - 12-2pm, Energie Fitness Club, Douglasfield, Douglas road, Dundee, DD4 8LF. £18
Cupar, Fife - 3-5pm, Yvonne Gray School of Dance, short lane, crossgate, Cupar. £15

Both these workshops will be aimed somewhere around Improver/Intermediate level- beginners with some experience welcome and more advanced dancers may still enjoy getting some insight into the 'Cairo way' of doing some of the moves!!!contact Caroline for info, map and booking form on

see you soon

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Walima workshop sun 8th oct

Hello everyone!
well- the workshops have been popular-

the intermediate class 1.30-3.30 is completely full now. However, the take up of the beginners class 11-1 has been very slight- so i have decided since the demand is there to change the level of the 11-1pm workshop to a General level- ie suitable for improver level through to intermediate (not beginners!!!!). If anyone has put their name down for the 1.30-3.30 class but would prefer this earlier one (similar subject matter!!!) then let me know so I can open up spaces in that one.

There are 2 SPACES ONLY left in the advanced level class....

I'll be emailing out booking forms today to those who have requested them with the new workshop details on them too...

Workshop details for Dundee and Cupar on sat 7th oct will be confirmind and posted here in the next day or so- sorry for the delay (my fault for keeping my coming home such a surprise!!!)

see you soon- at workshops or in Walima one night!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Surprise !

Lorna (of Cairo!) in Edinburgh!!!

I'm home as of tonight........ although just for 2 weeks.

I was missing everyone too much- had to come back for a visit!!! Sorry for keeping it a secret but I didn't warn you all because I was frightened that I may have to change my plans (because of performances here) at the very last minute (wouldn't want to disappoint anyone!)- and it was a secret even from Khalid til this weekend!!! Plus since not much performance work thoughout Ramadan in Cairo, I need to get some money in the bank to help fund the next 6 months out there!!!! so........

Lorna performing in Edinburgh, Sept +Oct;
If you want to see me perform (in some of my new costumes!!) I'll be pulling rank and doing all the Morocco Walima nights I can while I'm around;
wed 27th, thurs 28th and fri 29th Sept (not 30th- got a wedding that night!)
wed 4th, thurs 5th, fri 6th and sat 7th Oct.
So please come and see me so I can catch up with everyone!!!!


Weekend of Workshops with BellyLorna !!!

Sat 7th Oct

Dundee - 12-2pm, Energie Fitness Club, Douglasfield, Douglas road, Dundee, DD4 8LF. £18
Cupar, Fife - 3-5pm, Yvonne Gray School of Dance, short lane, crossgate, Cupar. £15

Both these workshops will be aimed somewhere around Improver/Intermediate level- beginners with some experience welcome and more advanced dancers may still enjoy getting some insight into the 'Cairo way' of doing some of the moves!!!
contact Caroline for info, map and booking form on

Sun 8th Oct
at Morocco Walima (3a1 Dundas st), Edinburgh

Beginners/Improvers ( ie doing basics- but cairo style!) 11-1pm

(combinations and technique) 1.30-3.30pm

(and by this I mean people who are currently performing on a regular basis and/or teaching only please. Musical interpretation technique and how to move your audience- performance skills!) 4.30-6.30pm

all these Walima workshops will be strictly limited to 15 people max- so if you want to come please email me urgently to get your name down and I'll email you the booking form Price for each one will be £15 , please make cheque payable to 'Lorna Gow Dance' or if paying by cash please also pay in advance of workshops- payment must be received in advance in order to reserve your place (sorry to be so stict- but since I'm limiting numbers I want to make sure everyone gets a fair chance!)

Also I will be available for private classes- just drop me a line if you are interested....

Thats it for now- really excited about being back in Scotland!!!- hope to see most of you over the next 2 weeks!!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The moon

well- today is the day- the start of Ramadan- so 'Ramadan Kareem' everyone.............

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Ramadan in Cairo....

So that’s the background about Ramadan in the previous blog- The reality on top of all of that is that the shops and supermarkets look like those at home a month before Christmas- non food stuffs are moved to the back to allow lots of space for dried fruit (apricots, dates and figs esp.) and nuts- every type! It is hard to believe when you see the shops that it is a time for NOT eating! However, Families will get up before sunrise to share Suhoor- a meal before the fast begins and each day at iftar (breaking of the fast) people gather together, friends and family and eat and talk and pray together. It is a very important time for Muslims for the social implications as well as the religious ones…

And talking shops- the streets are full of shiny glass and brass lanterns called- Fanoos. They are all shapes and sizes and families light them in their homes during iftar and throughout Eid.

This will be my first Ramadan in Cairo- so I have been asking everyone how it's different from the rest of the year.

Seemingly the roads are quiet most of the day but are at a complete standstill from 3pm until sunset with everyone trying to get home to break the fast. Also people can be more bad tempered (I suspect this time is especially difficult for all the chain smokers in Cairo!, not to mention those who can't exist without that first morning coffee!!!) I have heard of a British tourist, walking down the street downtown, during Ramadan who was sworn at and had the cigarette torn from his mouth and stamped on!!

Also the timetables of classes, schools even business opening hours change slightly to allow people less hardship through the day and so they can iftar with family. Often Mosques will open their doors each day at sunset to feed the poor…. It is also a time more than any other, of giving to charity….all the local magazines have articles and ads plugging one charity over another just now!

Oh and of course all the Bellydancers are out of a job at this time of year- unless they are lucky enough to be foreign- and working on a boat for tourists only- then they can still work. Most use this time to travel and to prepare their new show for after Eid.

So, these are just the things I have heard- I'll get back to you with my observations of how life changes in Ramadan in Cairo once I have experienced it!

What is Ramadan exactly...

Well, everyone knows that Muslims fast for one month every year- the month of Ramadan. The exact dates vary every year- but is the 9th month of the Muslim calendar (they use a lunar calendar- we use the solar one which is why the date changes each year). It is the month the Quran was supposed to be sent down to the prophet Mohammed (while he was walking in the desert) from heaven (via the angel Gabriel). This time is supposed to be a time of religious contemplation- taking time out from the usual concerns of life to focus on God (Allah).

During the daytime- ie all hours between sunrise and sunset, Muslims are supposed to Sawm (fast) They are not supposed to eat, drink, smoke or have sex. Part of the idea being that, while you are hungry and thirsty, you are more likely to be mindful of the hardships of the poor. It also gives you the chance to practice self control and cleanse the body and mind (a detox!) However all the good that is done by fasting is wiped out by various things; During this month, even more than others, Muslims are supposed to aim to refrain from sex, lies, violence, anger, greed envy, sarcasm, lust and gossip.

Those exempt from fasting are children, elderly, ill, pregnant women, and women who are at that time menstruating. Also those in battle or traveling are exempt. If however the reason for missing days is not permanent (eg when a women has her period) that person is supposed to make up the 'lost days' at some point though the year- before the next Ramadan. If however someone breaks the fast by having sex during daytime- they are supposed to make up the days by fasting 60 consecutive days for one days transgression!!!!

At the end of Ramadan there is a huge 3 day feast called Eid el fitr (feast of fast breaking) Food is take in excess and family and friends all meet up and gifts , especially for children, are exchanged ( a lot like our Christmas!)

But before this- on one of the last ten nights of Ramadan- often considered to be the 27th day of Ramadan, there is the night of power (Laylet al-Qadr) - the night is supposed to be when the Quran was given to Mohammed and some Muslims will stay up to pray all this night since it is also supposed to be the night when god decides on the way of the world for the next year (makes up his diary!).

Clocks change

I just found out that the clocks change here too!!! Tonight in fact. They are going back one hour- so until the clocks change in UK there will only be a one hour difference instead of two!

Seemingly they are supposed to change the first Thursday in October but Ramadan starts this weekend (sat or sun- depends on the moon!) so they are changing the clocks this week, a week early, so people can iftar (break their fast) earlier!! Mind you, it seems fair since it is still horrific temperatures to be fasting in- Rabena Ma3ahom (god be with them) when Ramadan is in August!!!

going religious

Just a wee religious aside…………

Rabena Ma3ak = Our God with you (or be with you).

So Rab in Arabic is God………..

so who is Rab. C then????

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

me ...Again

It does seem a bit self-obsessed, writing about 'me' all the time and posting photos of 'me'- but I guess that is really what a blog is about! (that and its what you keep asking me to put in!!!) So here you go- yet another photo of me (this time looking like I am receiving a message from above!!!)

Monday, September 18, 2006

words of a child

Among some of the things I miss a lot since coming to Cairo is hearing all the stories in my classes of what is going on in peoples lives.... and of course telling you all my stories! Just in case you are missing my stories heres one-

This is from an email I received this week which made me fill up. With reference to my Hafla in March in Edinburgh, where I danced with the wings, this is what one mum just told me her 6 year old daughter, Mollie, had said...

When you came out to do your dance with the wings she lent across to me and said, “See Mum – I told you Lorna was an angel”.

God Bless her- I read it and didn't know whether to laugh or cry!

The Good Stuff- part 2

It's lovely having so much good stuff to write that it needs 2 blogs rather than just one!!!

It's lovely learning to appreciate my own company- I have always surrounded myself with people so much and always been so busy- but now if I get an evening or a day to myself I really quite enjoy just staying in.

It's lovely ordering Pizza Hut via the internet and getting a huge pizza and dessert for under a fiver, and within half an hour.

It's lovely discovering old friends here! - turns out that Sylvia (who used to organize the classes at Edinburgh university for me years ago) has recently moved here to teach.

It's lovely when you receive really unexpected shows of trust and friendship.

It's lovely seeing live music. Haven't had a chance recently- but being able to go most night to see live bands, bellydancers or Sufi show or Zar… there is always something on. And It's lovely having time to actually go see it all!

It's lovely being around so much life. The town is constant- people are in the streets, on the bridges in their cars- lots of noise and chaos- but it all seems to work. There is a vitality here which is hard to compare to other places- I guess maybe Edinburgh during the festival comes close… but this is 12 months a year.

It's lovely taking people round and actually getting into the places at residents rates- not just for the financial reasons but since it really helps me feel like I have got a life here- I'm not just another tourist anymore.

It's lovely having so many visitors... Khalid, Christine, Elspeth, Harriet, Nick, Sugrah, Jackie, Surannah + Mohinda, Aline + Alan, Margaret and Irene. Taking them around and showing them 'my Cairo'.

It's lovely surprising people – "looks there' a foreigner dancing/teaching…… oh, she can actually dance!"

It's lovely munching on fresh guava while I type my blog on the balcony. 12 for under 50p.

It's lovely being able to afford a cleaner!

It's lovely buying new costumes- even if I can't afford them!

It's lovely feeling I am learning so much about the dance- not necessarily new moves or technique (although obviously those too) - but how to dance for an Egyptian audience, how to feel and express the music, how to have fun performing, how to appreciate Arabic music from understanding more about the way of life. Learning how to dance without having to 'prove myself' every time.

It's lovely knowing that I don't HAVE to stay here if things go wrong or get too much…….. that I have lots of people back home supporting me though my time here but who would be equally glad to have me return. Thanks guys!

It's lovely knowing that some of you out there are actually interested in my Cairo waffle!

The Good Stuff

Ok- so last blog was all about the not so good stuff here….. so why do I like it so much and why am I extending my 6 month stay to probably more like a year!!!

It's lovely getting into taxi's to hear the sounds of Om Kalthoum coming at you from the stereo

It's lovely watching the sunset every night from my balcony and seeing the sky change through all the colours before the whole place comes alive with the sound of the call to prayer.

It's lovely watching the boats on the Nile, and the rowers, and water-skiers, and fishermen (women!) etc etc day and night.

It's lovely hearing all the latest pop songs coming from the weddings across the Nile- who needs a stereo?!

It's lovely getting the opportunity to write my blog, read books, go to a gym, see friends, watch fantastic dancers….

It's lovely dancing in front of Egyptians- hearing their positive comments and feeling like I have achieved something over all these years.

It's lovely speaking in Arabic to someone and being totally understood. (Ok- so doesn’t happen often- but defiantly more often than it used to!)

It's lovely meeting new people all the time- people come to Cairo from all over the place for all sorts of interesting reasons- I feel my horizons have widened! I've met dancers, writers, archeologists, aid workers, teachers, reporters, fitness trainers, in fact- you name it- not many occupations left to meet!

It's lovely being missed- I get so many emails from friends, family and students back home that it is heartwarming!

It's lovely having such a large flat and space to move.

It's lovely working with musicians- for my saaidi number at a wedding on Saturday night I had a drummer and Mizmar player follow me out into the hall and follow me round the tables- fantastic feeling.

It's lovely to have a standing ovation for a drum solo- wow- what an ego boast! (I'll never be able to come home at this rate- my head will be too big to get onto a plane!)

It's lovely having old women cry and kiss you because it’s the only way they can describe to you how much they love your dancing! (Not so lovely when the old men try to do the same!!!)

It's lovely teaching Egyptians- at the same time as learning from them the feel of the dance. So much more sexy and flirtatious and fun than it is at home- a real female bonding experience. Half the girls in my class today are veiled- yet when its just girls together there really is no barriers. No young, no old, no good, no bad- just all women together having fun.

It's lovely having teachers, dancers, musicians and costume designers at the doorstep.

It's lovely waking up knowing that, without a doubt, the sun will be shining! I love not feeling cold!

It's lovely watering my plants as I look over to the pyramids in the morning.

It's lovely to have as much free time as I do here and to socialize as much as I do. At home I teach so many hours that friends hardly get a look in- sorry guys.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Photo shoot results

some more pics of me..... Not photo-shopped!!! Amazing what good make up and a good photographer can achieve!!
How Egyptian do I look?!!!

what no-one tells you....

No-one tells you that it'll be this hard.
There are so many wonderful things about life in Cairo, and in so many ways I am really happy and excited still about being here, even after 5months there are so many good things and interesting happenings…. But….

It's hard every morning having to check when you get dressed in the morning that what you wear isn't going to offend anyone, overly interest anyone, be cool yet covered and not show sweat.

It's hard not making any eye contact with anyone you pass in the street, because you know that if you do it'll mean they feel they automatically have the right to 'a piece of you'- even if its just the 'welcome to Cairo', or the 'you are beautiful'…… never mind the rest of the comments- or kerb crawling….

It's hard always having to have enough small change for every taxi journey, knowing that you'll probably still end up having the same argument as always- you knowing you are already paying more than an Egyptian would, but the driver still being dissatisfied with that, thinking that you, as a tourist, have so much more money than them.

It's hard being comfortable with the fact that my elevator sticks midday between floor 16 and 17…… and remembering always to have my mobile on me – just in case!

It's hard persuading Egyptians that yes- a Scotswomen can dance (obviously not hard if they actually get a chance to see me!!!!)

It's hard remembering that woman cannot live by chocolate and water alone…. But I certainly try!

It's hard remembering to drink triple the amount of water I would at home.

It's hard remembering not to say please and thank you all the time- even in Arabic. People here tell me that it is always really obvious spotting the British tourists / ex-pats, because we are too polite!

It's hard seeing my only nephew, Sam, grow up over MSN and not being able to hug him.

It's hard being away from Khalid- Thank God for MSN.....

It's hard living alone for the first time. Although I haven't read as many books ever in my life- always a plus side.

It's hard refusing work- but I have to- so many people want me to teach and I am so frightened of getting myself into the same pattern of life as at home with classes so filling my days that I have no time to improve me… 4 classes per week at the moment- plus privates….

It's hard going to Arabic class everyday, spending a fortune on classes and feeling that my Arabic is improving only in crawling steps- often going the same directions as wee Sam- ie backwards!

It's hard learning by rote- apart from maybe the alphabet and then my times tables at school I don't remember having to learn anything ever by rote- but the lists of verbs and all the conjugations drive me up the wall!!

It's hard continuing to speak Arabic to people when they continue to answer you in English. Thank god for Ahmed and Mohammed- my taxi drivers who help me and correct my grammar very patiently!

It's hard not being in control- at home if I want something done I do it. Here in Egypt, there is so much waiting around for other people to come through for you.

It's hard just waiting- they do it so well here- sitting around for hours. They get so surprised and amused when you lose your patience

It's hard learning to distrust everyone- or at least to take EVERYTHING that’s said with a pinch of salt…. So many broken promises. I hate becoming so cynical and having to wait until my patience increases!!!

It's hard meeting women. So easy to meet men, but after spending 9 years teaching full time and being surrounded by hundreds, literally, of women every week feeling alone so much of the time is hard. Miss all my girls!

It's hard having to be waxed, filed, and made up etc etc all the time. Image is everything here, unfortunately.

It's hard performing in a wig, outside, when the temperature is over 30degrees even at midnight- like wearing a woolie hat and scarf to sunbathe in!

It's hard justifying all the money spent on new costumes when I still do not have a regular contract for work- I'll put on some photos as soon as I get them!

It's hard dancing less….. both time wise here- after so many teaching hours in Scotland and performing all the time at Walima etc just physically less hours here, but also when I do perform to remember that it is an Egyptian audience not a British one- less moves, more attitude!

It's hard not to get totally chuffed and excited when Egyptians in my audience (esp. when its women making the comment!) compliment me on my dancing and assume I must have Arabic parents at least….

It's hard not being able to be totally open about my work here and the situation I am in….

It's hard even getting near the red tape never mind breaking through it.

It's hard to believe I have been here so long already and that my original time limit is almost up….. I'll be here now probably until at least next April- i.e. a year instead of 6 months!

It's hard ending this list…………………………..and have any of you who have managed to get to the end of it, appreciate that I am still very happy here, and want to be here and am so glad I have had this opportunity!

I'll do a list with more of the good stuff next time!!!

Saturday, September 02, 2006


I couldn't resist taking these photos...... so many pretty sparkly things! Feast you eyes on this aladdins cave!

will write more soon.... !

Costume shop photos

Some Pics taken in Mahmoud's shop in Khan el Khalili. Thought these may be of interest to some and bring back memories for others .... beautiful colours!