by Luna

by Luna



Blog Intro

Hello, I'm Luna, and I'd like to welcome you to "Kisses from Kairo,"* my blog about living and working as an American belly dancer in Cairo.

Life in Cairo isn't easy for dancers, foreigners, women, or even Egyptians. It is, however, always exciting. That’s why after living here for seven years, I've decided to share my experiences with the world. From being contracted at the Semiramis Hotel to almost being deported, not a day has gone by without something odd or magical happening. I will therefore fill these pages with bits of my history in Cairo—my experiences, successes, mistakes, and observations. Admittedly, my time here has been rather unique, so I want to stress that while everything I write is true, my experiences do not necessarily reflect the lives of other dancers.

In addition to my life as a belly dancer, I will write about developments in costuming, performances, festivals, and, of course, the dance itself. I will also make frequent references to Egyptian culture. I should note that I have a love/hate relationship with Egypt. If I make any criticisms about the country, please keep in mind that I do so with the utmost love, respect, and most of all, honesty. Egypt has become my home, so I want to avoid romanticizing and apologizing for social maladies, as most foreigners tend to do. Nothing could be more misguided, patronizing, or insulting.

I hope you find this blog informative, insightful and entertaining, and that we can make this as interactive as possible. That means I'd love to hear from you. Send me your comments, questions, complaints, suggestions, pics, doctoral dissertations, money, etc., and I will get back to you. Promise. :)~

My Videos

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Whore on the 4th Floor

My Secret Life as a Belly Dancer in Cairo
This might sound strange, but here in Cairo, I lead a secret life. I’m not a spy or anything. I’m just a belly dancer. But I make great efforts to hide this from people. When Egyptians ask me what I’m doing in Cairo, I tell them I’m writing a book about Egyptian “art.” I keep things vague, but not untrue. I am, after all, writing a book, and its subject is belly dancing, which is an Egyptian art. Never do I mention that I’m a practitioner of this art, however. Doing so would unleash a series of unfavorable consequences, not the least of which is being labeled a whore.
You might be thinking, “So what? Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply here. True, it’s not like I’ll be stoned for being a belly dancer, but I might…oh, let’s see… get kicked out of my apartment.
Oddly enough, this is exactly what happened to me last year (in fact today marks the one-year anniversary of my eviction!). My landlord virtually kicked me out of my apartment upon learning that I am a belly dancer!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

My Story...

More than two years ago, I traded in the hustle and bustle of New York City for Cairo.  I had just graduated from Harvard University with a Masters degree in Middle Eastern Studies, and had won a Fulbright scholarship to write a book about belly dance in Egypt.   A more secretive goal of mine, however, was to learn real Egyptian belly dance.  Ever since participating in Raqia Hassan’s Ahlan wa Sahlan dance festival in 2006, I knew that it could only happen in Egypt.  

Though I had taken belly dance classes and performed for a year in New York City, I had never seen the likes of Dina, Randa, Asmahan, Sorraya and Katia in the States.  Their performances at the festival’s opening and closing galas mesmerized me, but also made me realize that I didn't know how to dance.  I realized that in order to be a fraction as good as these women, I would have to spend some time living in Egypt.