BellyDance in Dubai

Photos, L-R, top-bottom on taken on a i-phone 6 .

Top 3 photos of the “Darth Vader Wand, unknown dancer at an outdoor desert safari, Tannoura dancer at Safari, Warda, me and my BFF partying into the wee hours!

Dubai, one of 7 emirates, collectively known as UAE , is situated on the Persian Gulf. By some reports the work force is 80-90% expats, and from what I saw the professional belly dancers are 100%. Favored are the very petite and very young of course! The small sizes of the majority of dancers, gave the illusion of prepubescent to me, that maybe because I’m getting s little long in the tooth as the saying goes! Although not considered a place of destination for Belly Dance per se like Cairo, there are abundant nightclubs and cabarets featuring full length dance shows, with incredible musical accompaniment and soulful singers. Like Cairo, the shows start late and go into the wee hours of the AM. Shisha and alcohol fueled (but not too much as public intoxication is a no no) is the way to enjoy these evenings. And of course a hearty appetite! The mezzas are divine and generally 2 coursed, hot and cold. In the states I’m only used to a first course, but when in Rome … Or get what I mean!

The Belly Dance shows are what you would expect… Well kind of.

First, it is illegal to tip the musicians, singers or dancers. So no money showers, no tip necklaces, no discreet palm shakes after the show. In addition to no tipping that means that none of the entertainers leave the dance floor. Even during the folkloric section where it’s generally acceptable to even go out into the audience to do a greeting or photo-op with distinguished guests.  Instead, tipping is done by the audience through a token purchase of champagne and it turns out that its cheap champagne! So bottles of champagne are placed on the dance floor with these mega-sparklers and poured either for the singers and band members, but no money exchanges hands.

The dance shows are typical five or seven parts with lots of folklore and every dancer had a gulf dance included in her set, some more vigorous than others. A lot of props were seen, the dancers started their marjence or majency with poi veils, fan veils or Isis wings. An interesting prop, new to me, was the Darth Vader wand! This prop was accompanied by a Saidi  or Debkhe song. The pictures below do not do the prop justice! They expand with an ever changing array of colors, designs and symbols. Ranging to country flags, club name and logo, national icons like Feiruz and Oum Kalthoum, and I swear I saw Sara Palin on one of the Darth Vader Wands…

The dance itself is very fast with a very modern musical interpretation. Which left many audience members reminiscing about Fifi, Mona, Sohair etc… Per conversations overheard at neighboring tables.

If you are looking to take a dance class while you are there, look up Warda. An expat from Brazil, living in the region for well over a decade definitely has the feel for the Gulf.

If you are looking for an adventure and dance and or shopping is your thing, Dubai will be sure to please.


Missionary, Mercenary and Bedouin



Jordan Desert

Travel to foreign and exotic places opens my eyes and reminds me of other realities unlike my own.

1/Cold nights in a Bedouin tent, smoking and drinking with the natives.

2/Two Mikes
On the left our bodyguard, whose presence allowed us entry into the most unlikely places, safely. Mike on the right was a minister in a small mid-western town, sent on  a missionary journey by his family and congregation with no return date projected. He had never tasted alcohol and couldn’t wrap his head around two  American women in Jordan, he had to sit when we told him we were bellydancers.

3/No name mercenary. Translated  by our bodyguard about the “arms deal” being made around the camp fire. We gladly shared our alcohol, but kept our charms hidden.

Photos purposely kept raw and untouched…

Note to self, this was almost a year to the day that we had departed from Egypt on the eve of Arab Spring, highlights of news were reports of Mubarak’s trial.


Peace On the Nile


Nile January,11,2011Peace on Da Nile

Just days before the revolution, cool, crisp, white bright day in Cairo.

Istanbul….She is feeling different.

Istanbul felt different this trip.  The Turkish survived Taksim Square, but were troubled about the recent “mining accident”.
In two unsolicited conversations with employed and modern women in Istanbul, they both voiced an anger at their government. Both of these unrelated women were fearful of changes they foresee happening to Turkey.
I noticed many more women covering their head in hijab, than in past  years.  Our travel agent also recommended the female travelers to cover elbow to ankle. This is different….real different.

Turkey is changing , like all of us.

I took this by accident, I mean i did it on purpose of course, forgetting  it wasn't allowed.

I took this by accident, I mean, I did it on purpose of course, forgetting it wasn’t allowed.

Amateur photographer (and writer that I am), I'm never sure if I will catch the drops.  Success!

Amateur photographer (and writer that I am), I’m never sure if I will catch the drops. Success!

Blossoms, in previous years visits, its either been too hot or cold.

Blossoms, in earlier years visits, it’s either been too hot or cold.

I was glad to see efforts made to preserve these historical masterpieces.  Protection of the silk carpets, no photography with flash.

I was glad to see efforts made to preserve these historical masterpieces. Protection of the silk carpets, no photography with flash.

 Sultan Ahmed Mosque..playing around with a color app!  Hope I don't rot in someone's hell for desecration.

Sultan Ahmed Mosque..playing around with a color app! Hope I don’t rot in someone’s hell for desecration.

Petra, Jordan January 2012   Check this link out for the historical significance dating back to biblical times.  Check out these photos which can give you an idea of its majestic proportions.JORDAN PETRA 069 These are taken on a brisk January day, where the wind was cool and the sun hot. Just a day after our arrival from Istanbul, where we were met with snow flurries, electrical outages in the Grand Bazaar and a hammam in a 15th century bath house, Petra offered us a respite of sorts. It is enough to take your breath away in delight and fascination, that something so big and grand in proportions, advanced in design could be remaining from so long ago.  Outside  the entrance to Petra, is a hotel formed out of rock, to complement the site. Appropriately named, “the Cave”  is it’s nightclub. Where you can smoke nargeely with the local Bedouins, enjoy a traditional mezza, drink alcohol, (which is a challenge to come by FYI) and dance rap and shaabi  infused debke!  What are two semi retired belly dancers, one who has brain cancer, the other who chronically burns the candle at both ends doing in Jordan? It just seemed like the thing to do!  It is one of the seven wonders of the world after all. Sateen.JORDAN PETRA 103

Waikiki…There’s Something about it I Love….

November 2012

November 2012 Plumeria

There’s Something about it I Love…
I’m talking Waikiki..I love it in the summer, when it’s but to bellybutton crowded and I love it in the winter when it’s filled with rainstorms, jellyfish and rainbows.
Maybe, it’s because I spent some of my childhood there and have some very lighthearted and fun memories of hula dance, tether-ball and Nancy’s Kitchen at Ala Moana. Maybe, it’s because particles of my Mother’s bones stuck to my face as my sister and I scattered her ashes in the sea there….Maybe it’s because I recognize my sister’s gait in this picture of my Father as he tries to dance with the hula dancer at Waikiki.
Maybe  it’s because I am always able to connect again with my long time lover….a man that because of our lifestyle choices, we are not able to wake up side by side very often…

Waikiki  from Diamond Head 11/2012

Waikiki from Diamond Head 11/2012

Maybe it’s because I can reconnect again with nature’s clock…rising with the sun and witnessing the sunset in all her glory…

There’s just something about it I love…..November 2012

Dad dancing...1961 RIP Dad           Dad dancing at Waikiki 1961 RIP Dad

In the local tradition, scattering of the ashes, followed by flowers...2004

In the local tradition, scattering of the ashes, followed by flowers…2004 RIP Momma

Istanbul 2012, Cold Winter Day


Istanbul 2012, Cold Winter Day

Though it was crisp (cold)! day…the light and feeling of Istanbul was magic!  Though there is no picture, one of the highlights of a trip to Istanbul, is the ritual of hammam.

Stars of Twelve
Dozen Arches
Whispers of Ancient giggles and gossips echoing in my mind as I steam…
Stripped to skin and bones….
Amidst the bubbles.

See if you can imagine it!