Monday, April 30, 2007

I LOVE my job

I really do. On friday my friend asked me 'are you working tomorrow' and most people would reply yes in a resigned manner- not me- I was like 'YES' with a big smile on my face (actually I said 'AYWA'! )

So far I have been working one trip a night on the boat- one show upstairs (2x 15min sets) and then the same downstairs. I have the luxury of not having to do a mega quick costume change since there is a tannoura (a whirling dervish) on between my 2 sets on each deck. But I do have a wonderful girl to help me with my costume change, sort my costumes, wipe the sweat off me and even give me a wee massage if needed.It really is a little piece of heaven!

I am totally loving the excitment of working with a live band too. It's still early days so we are still getting to know each other- but hugely enjoying the experience- esp the accordian solo in the baladi number and the drum solos!

Other than that I guess its similar to dancing in Morocco restaurarnt in Edinburgh......... entertaining the guests- getting photos taken with everyone- encouraging people up to dance and generally having a lot of fun. I have to say though that there is something deeply satisfying about dancing to an all Egyptian audience (as I had on the top deck last night) and seeing them appreciate what you are doing. Especially since they 'know' if you are good or not! I even had one Egyptian woman kiss my cheek as I danced past last night because she thought I was wonderful!!!!!

My friends came on friday night and that was a huge buzz for me. My friend Waleed used to dance in the Cairo Opera house and of course knows how to do the Asaya (stick) dance and I managed to persuade him to get up and join me on stage- it was as though we had choreographed it all- wonderful! Unfortunatly, although they took plenty video footage (which will give me good feedback when i sit down to watch it), they didn't take any stills................. so still no photos of my doing my thing to add here yet!!! Next time..........

Thursday, April 26, 2007

'My' boats...

thats how a friend described them to me in an email today!!! Hardly- I wish!

anyway- she gave me a good idea.... if you would like to see where I am working here's their website....

No photos yet to put in here- but have some friends coming for a meal tomorrow night so will entrust them with my camera for that purpose just for you all!!!

A poem on Bellydancing..

Goddess of The Dance
by Amy I. Ramdass
lifted from

Goddess of the Dance

A sensually awakening dance as old as the Nile
Come hither smiles, sweet feminine wiles
Heat reverberating to the depths of her sole
She twirls and shimmies with mesmerizing hip rolls

This exotic primal dance promoted at one time
A woman's most enjoyable and fruitful pastime
Like an aphrodisiac uncurling sensual side
And rousing loins with mysterious eyes wide

Life begins the belly, the womb of mother earth
From the sexual act to conception to ultimate birth
She lovingly tells us this as she picks up the pace
Undulating her body with soft dignity and grace

Swaying all the right parts with such emotion
Stationery like Mother Earth yet constantly in motion
She shows off the beauty of the female form
All are spellbounded as she continues to perform

She enters your psyche, taking over your mind
Pulse beating to heady rhythms sensually entwined
Rising seductively to the music, not a beat amiss
She leads you to Nirvana, constant State of Bliss

The dance almost done, she gains speed suddenly
And then climax, fast and lively, grand finale
Her audience is still in the State of Hypnotic Trance
She is sweetly awakened, she is Goddess of the Dance

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I still have to write up about the closing show of the Nile group festival- but figured this new needed aired asap.....

Tonight I did my first 'legal' days work as a bellydancer in Cairo!!!

I am performing (almost nightly) at the restaurant boat the 'Nile Pharoah' (and sometimes on the 'Golden Pharoah' (also known as the Nile and Golden 'Pharon') Which are the boats docked by the corniche in Giza, beside the four seasons hotel. All gold and pharonic stylie... Small dancefloor- but hey- it my debut in Cairo and everyone has to start somewhere!!!

My band are the Safaa Farid band (as seen with the Farha tours in UK with Yasmina and co.)

If you are in Cairo and want to come and see me call the Pharoahs on 02 570 1000 to book!

It has been such a long hard struggle to get all the paperwork finalised etc and all of you my friends and family have supported me all the way and given me the self belief to keep going, to not give up hope of achieving the dream.... and now it is all done and I have danced my first night I can tell the whole world!!!!!!!

Lorna, the first Scottish bellydancer to perform in Cairo!

Very happy (in case you hadn't got that jist by now!!!)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Workshops I attended at the Nile Group Festival!

well- I went to lots of workshops this week- and am feeling all refreshed and inspired by it all... heres a wee summary of who's who and how they were (in order of when i took the class during the week)

Mona Mustafa (who used to dance in the Reda troupe) taught us a lovely Melaya choreography. It was a very small class which was wonderful, although despite that we all still seemed to hit each other with our melayas! A fun 'wrap the melaya round your hips' move that was new to me…. Very enjoyable in all. Just wish I had taken my video camera with me since she (in fact all the teachers this week) have been totally fine with us recording the choreography at the end of the class!

Nesma Oriental dance. She is from Spain, but danced here in Egypt for about 5 years. It shows; fantastic elegance and grace… with depth of feeling and fun you only see in dancer who has spent a long time in Egypt! If she lived in Cairo I would take lessons- for sure! She reminded me a lot of Nour (the Russian dancer who is popular at weddings here- although is not at this years festival since she was pregnant at the last one!) I liked the way she taught- giving us the choreography but encouraging us to adapt it to suit our own styles and giving us ways we could do our own thing within it. She had the teaching skills of a European and a very strong ballet influenced style with the understanding of what is needed for the Egyptian stage; A lovely combination. She was also able to explain the difference between what makes a move 'oriental' or 'folklorique' and show how one move could be done in a variety of ways. I bought both her cds too- and I recommend them (

Hassan Khalil Modern oriental. He is 70… and choreographed for the likes of Naima Akef. Lovely fun, simple routine- but what stood out most was his fun charater and positive mental attitude to the dance. Very empowering- every one of us left his class feeling better about ourselves! He is only part based in Cairo- but when he is next in town I'll be hoping for some lessons. He is usually in Belgium and has teaching programs there and all sort of things…( ) He thought I was Russian by the way I used my arms- I took it as a complement since all the Russian girls in the class were ballet trained and very graceful!!!

He had a lovely theory about why although men can make good teachers and choreographers, the best dancers are women- Because the feel for this dance comes from deep inside a woman- from her womb- and that creates an essential difference – men and men – but women are 'womben' !!!

Neveen Ramez Oriental. I didn't have a clue who she was before I went to this class… and in the beginning I worried I had chosen the wrong one as she mixed up her rights and lefts a bit- however- it transformed into one of the best workshops ever- REALLY enjoyed her energy and musical interpretation (even though I would probably have added a fair bit to it if I was performing it to make it more oriental and less folklorique) but the idea for patterns and feel were very useful and enjoyable. She turned out to be a very strict teacher (in a good way!). Mind you – she was the trainer for the Reda troup for 30 years and was its manager too- so she knows her stuff!

Dandash Oriental technique. Wow. Raw powerful, cheeky, mischevious sexy fun dancer. Truly inspiring. When I grow up I want to be like her!!!! Dandash starts as she does with every workshop with a choreography- but soon starts changing and adapting it- and in the end (well- by a third of the way through) we are watching and copying rather than doing choreography. Much better. At one point she started a number with such power and passion that everyone knew instantly that we just couldn't keep up- so we all sat down and watched her perform for us instead! Wonderful. My favourite 3 hours of the festival!

Lubna Emam Oriental routine by another of reda troups dancers turned teachers. I have already written in the blog about the wonderful saadi workshop I did with her last time. This one was fantastic too- fun and punchy and a very complex routine to get through in the allotted time. A talented teacher. So many people I want to try and arrange private classes with- and she is def. one of them. It was such a shame her trip to Edinburgh had to be cancelled- people do not know what they are missing- she wouldn have been worth every penny and more. Ah well.

Sameh el Dessouki Modern Oriental. Sameh was a folklorique dancer in Cairo for many years before moving to live and teach in Moscow. His style is very modern- using contempary dance steps to 'jazz up' oriental choreography. I really enjoyed the choreography (to a Nancy Agram number) and got lost in it a few times (as in really felt I could dance to the music and do someone elses choregraphy- something which Never happens to me since I usually improvise!!!) Good bits of basic technique revised and drilled. Very enjoyable.

Unfortuantly many of the other workshops I would have liked to attend were fully booked even though I arrived early on first day of registation- so best to book online if you intend to come next time (June!) I would have loved Aida Nour, Lizza, Zeina and Hassan Khalil's 2 veil workshops as well but couldn't get in. Ah well, saved me some money this time round I guess!

Nile Group Festival 17-22 April 2007

Well, I haven't written in the blog for a while as I have been really busy this past week… with the Nile Group festival on at the Movenpick hotel, here in Cairo.

On Opening Night (last Monday) - Tito, Lizza and Lucy all performed after the initial fashion show.

Tito's first number was a group saaidi stick number and it was really powerful- very masculine and entertaining! He had his backing dancers with him as always… and he also had a girl, who was very pretty, perform a solo choreography that he performed last festival. She did a lot of bent forward tummy flutters- which was most impressive when she was standing on a tabla at the time! Tito also performed a number with Dandash- she was lovely and actually- they worked quite well together!!!

Lizza excelled as usual with her Khaleegy number. It's always full of life and fun and classy with it. she had slimed down a lot from last festival too and was looking good...

Lucy's show, for me, wasn't as enjoyable as last time, although her Om khalsoum number was lovely- very tight controlled and emotive.

A good night- although as always at these events I feel after watching dancers I want to get up and dance about for fun and unfortunately there never seems to be a section for this built into the program. They do have the 'dance nights' where you can put your name down to compete and perform… but there isn't space really just to boogie.

photos will be added soon!

Sunday, April 15, 2007


One of the things I have benefited from whist unable to work here has been having so much time free for socialising- and therefore meeting so many lovely new friends. A group of us went out for a few 'fruit juices' last week and ended up in a nightclub til 7am!!!!
Here's Salem (who travelled back home to Syria today) Linda, Hussain and myself
Me and Abeer
Oh- and did I forget to mention- before we went to the club we went to the Marriot Nightclub to see Rhanda in all her glory. She came on with Wings!!!!!!!!!!! I was so stunned that I tried really hard to get a good photo of it but the lighting wasn't great... I wouldn't say wings were her forte... but it made a nice change.

Rhanda was of course stunning as usual....... although maybe a little tired (hardly surprising the number of hours she seems to work- she's a strong lady!)

Sand and Camels

Last week I went with a friend, Abeer, to camel ride at the pyramids. As many of you know this was not my first time on a camel- but it was for Abeer!

We, of course, managed to choose a day with sandstorms- but that only seemed to add to the excitement. What a bizarre place to pitch a tent... in the storm it looked like it was going to take off across the Sahara any second!

I thought I'd add some pics since there has definetly not been enough camels on this blog so far! My Camel seemed to always look in any direction except at the pyramid itself! Wonder what they make of these huge pointy things in their desert!

My current screen saver- so calming.......... you'd never guess how hard it was to find a piece of sand which looked like this, rather than covered with stones.... one of these days I will get out into the real desert, however in the meantime there seems to be enough in Cairo to keep me occupied!

The view...

ok- so the view here will never be able to compete with my views from Zamalek... but at least I still can see some green...

and the sunset....

It's garlic season- here everyone buys heaps of the stuff and hang it up outside on their balconies to dry it and store it throughout the year.... I had never seen garlic with the stalks on before!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Om Kalthoum Museum

I went yesterday with 2 friends Abeer and Bianca, to the Om Kalthoum Museum in Monira (an island in the Nile in centre of Cairo) the cost was only 2le for residents (not sure what for tourists). The Museum is also called 'Kawkab al-Sharq (Star of the East) Museum' and was opened by the government in 2001 in the grounds of the Manesterly Palace.

It is also where the Nilometer is situated (in days of old this metering of the Nile would directly represent how rich the people were , since the Nile being high meant the fields were more fertile and therefore the nations income was higher! To see this you have to pay an extra ticket and since he wasn't prepared to give us residents rates for that we decided not to bother on this trip (I'll definitely be going back anyway- so next time!)

Om Kalthoum was a singer who lived 1904-1975. (she was also a songwriter and actress) Her father dressed her as a boy so she could perform in a troup in her village… he also taught her to recite the Quran.

She became famous in Cairo, not just because of her amazing voice and huge orchestrated pieces (sometimes a single song would last over 1 hour and a typical concert of 3-6hrs would only have 2-3songs in it!) but because she found support from the leaders of the day, Nasser and later Sadat, who appreciated the way she would rally the nation together. Every Thursday night the streets of Cairo would become deserted (hard to imagine nowadays!!) as everyone got themselves next to a radio to hear her weekly performance live. This program was so popular with the nation that Nasser put his own political broadcasts on directly afterwards since he knew everyone in the country would be gathered round the radio at that time! She was a fantastic ambassador for Egypt and traveled widely singing in many nations and receiving awards and medals for achievement from many including Morocco, Tunisia, France and Pakistan. Her death was attended by an amazing 4 million mourners, who actually grabbed the coffin and took it to a mosques deemed to have been her favourite before allowing it to be taken back to be buried. An incomparable funeral seems appropriate for such an 'incomparable voice'

The museum has a few of the actual dresses she sang in, and also a pair of diamond encrusted glasses she wore. You can also find wonderful collages of photos of her taken throughout her lifetime and the awards from various nations. What I was impressed by was that they also had a few of the original songs, for example- the song 'Enta Omri' written out on paper from Mohammed Abdul Wahab's Office. He was a famous and fantastic composer and musician in his own right and wrote many of the songs for 'The Lady'

There was also an area where you could watch a film about her life…. Although we didn't sit and do this since it was too nice a day outside!!! Also I believe that if we had got there earlier in the day (we did go fairly late on) that we would have seen a panorama (not sure of what!) with her music playing throughout. What the museum unfortunately lacks is any handouts or notice boards with information- so if you don't know her story in advance- the venue itself doesn't teach you much. For those who have heard of her- or appreciated dancing to her music… then it is worth the visit!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I'm Scottish- not English!

Last night I attended a party at a friend's house, with Kay (who runs Farida Holidays) and her group. They had music and food and drink and the atmosphere was lovely- lots if dancing! After a small group of us went on to the Arizona Nightclub (VERY shabby little place downtown) It was the usual low class club with too much reverb on the music and 'dancer' after 'dancer'. Except that last night there was one at least who could really dance. She was really nice to watch. We got up and did our thing too of course….good fun.

The fun ended for us, when the singer (a large, red faced, saaidi man) decided to pick on us tourists. One of the girls had told him she was from England and that gave him the ammunition he needed unfortunately. He started singing-

'These people are from London- they may as well be from America, I am Saaidi I am Egyptian. In Egypt we had people like Nasser who fought to get the British out of Egypt'…………… at this point I ordered the bill and we left. I wasn't going to wait for the next line in the song!!!!!!!!

I guess he didn't realise that I would understand, or maybe he did. Anyway- it made it easier to leave that’s for sure. I can understand why Egyptians might feel resentment to the British… I really do…. (After all, there are some Scot's who still feel a similar way to the English even though those wars were not within even our parents lifetimes!!!) However it was a very uncomfortable situation, and the whole event made me realise how much of that type of attitude I avoid by telling people here that I am Scottish (much better than saying I am British, but neither obviously as bad, from last nights example, as saying you are English!)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Scottish wedding in Cairo

On Saturday night I attended a wedding in Maadi. Ruth, from Aberdeen, and her husband, Mohammed, were celebrating in Egyptian style in their flat.

There was a select crowd…. With many people flown over from Scotland (and one from Australia!) especially for the event. I felt it a pity it coincided with a holiday weekend that meant many of her friends from here in Cairo were out of town. They had a Saaidi band play (one large drum and 3 mizmars!!!!!!!) you can only imagine how loud that felt in their living room!!! They also had a whirling dervish and the 'backing dancers' not to mention the pantomime horse!!!. I did the bellydance duties…… stick dance first –getting the bride and groom up to dance etc etc… and then I danced again later with a cd (to do the oriental set in my new tartan costume!) All went very well and I enjoyed dancing probably as much as people enjoyed watching! We had sparklers and party poppers for the cutting of the cake and many zaghareets….. heaven only knows what the neighbours all thought about it all! If anyone who was there sends me there photos I'll add one in here!

The following day we met up again to spend a couple of hours in style on the Nile. They had hired a yacht 'the Christina' (which I highly recommend and will definitely do with future groups) and in wonderful luxurious style we cruised up the Nile for 2 hours while the staff on board served us drinks and acted DJ so we were all bellydancing on deck! I felt on top of the world- a yacht on the Nile, with lovely people, wine, music and dancing my heart out. It was a wonderful feeling… total decadence!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Chatting in Arabic

I was so proud of myself today….. I had a 2 hour Arabic lesson this morning… then I taught a private dance class to an Egyptian girl I met in the gym. The good thing is that she doesn't speak English………. And we did our 1 hour class, but also sat and chatted for nearly 2 hours ……… IN ARABIC !!!!!!!!!! ok- so they was a lot of guess work and miming on both parts and I know my grammar wasn't perfect etc; but we both managed to make ourselves understood and had a laugh doing it…. For 2 hours! Feel so proud of myself- but also more determined than ever to actually be able to speak this damn language!!!!!

Real Cairo

Last night I watched a short documentary all about the life of a man who walks around the city of Cairo with a huge canister of juice on his back. The program showed you making the juice and adding the massive chunks of ice to it to keep in cool in the sun. He plays 2 large brass plates like cygat to announce his arrival and walks for miles and miles every day. Seemingly the juice is the most refreshing drink you can have and therefore very popular in the hot summer. They were talking about the heritage of Egyptian culture and how people still live this 'old' lifestyle and that there are great benefits to it (eg he is a very fit man!) It wasn't the most interesting of things to watch- but I was trying to test my Arabic and see how much I understood!

Then just now… while I was sitting here at the computer- I heard those same plates……. Ok- so it wasn't him exactly- but walking around my streets are the real people of Cairo.
The juice man,
the ironing shops,
the small time grocers with 3 or 4 things in their shops,
the foul (fool) stand on the corner,
the butchers with huge chunks of animal hanging from scary looking hooks in the ceiling,
coming home to find the bowab has slaughtered something large on the doorstep,
an old man wandering round the streets selling huge bunches of fresh mint,
another with a bicycle with a huge basket at the front collecting large bits of rubbish- scrap metal and plastic- which I presume then gets recycled,
the women with their horrible patterned, old looking 'galabeyas' and 'ship ship' (slippers) but with huge gold earrings dangling from their ears.
Being able to walk for over half an hour with not one single comment (plenty of looks of course but no one saying anything).

This is more as I thought living in Cairo would be like. I wish I was more confident with the language- but I suspect that living here and shopping in these small shops- I'm going to get much better- much quicker!

April Fools Day

I tell you- I felt like a fool on Sat night! I had an early night (the first night in my new flat) but was awakened after about an hour by a loud noise. I still don't know what it was…. But new place, new sounds I guess…. I lay sooo still- very afraid, since I got it into my head that there was someone in the flat! After half an hour Khalid phoned and that gave me enough courage to get up and have a look around. There was nothing wrong of course so I felt like such a fool!!!!!!!!! Unfortunately it took 2 hours to get back to sleep again so I was like the walking dead for my Arabic lesson this morning!

The call to prayer is really loud in my new place……… not so it would wake you up- but lovely to hear, especially after being in Zamalek where you only heard the faint whisper of it. I like it.

Oh- and guess what- I left my window shut, with the shutters open this afternoon, and when I got home tonight the glass on the top of the coffee table have a huge crack along it- the sun had scorched the glass until it cracked! A perfect wavy line right across the width of the table. Amazing!!! I couldn't have even imagined that would happen!