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, April 14, 2011

The Harvard Thing...

Warning.  This is a rant.  :) 

So I’m just going to say it.  I went to Harvard.  Four years ago.  I did a Masters program in Middle Eastern Studies and graduated with a 3.9 average.  I’ve been deeply fascinated with the Middle East ever since 9/11, and decided I’d drive myself into serious debt studying it.  
 So why for the love of God am I belly dancing in Cairo!?!?  Shouldn’t I be putting my education to use? Shouldn’t I be raking in a 6-figure salary working for the US government?  Aren’t I wasting my life “shaking my butt” in a third world country? 
 People have been antagonizing me with these questions since I moved to Cairo more than two years ago, and quite frankly, I’m getting sick of it! Who made it a crime to hold a Harvard degree and work as a belly dancer?  Are there not hundreds of highly educated women teaching and performing belly dance all over the world?  Or is dancing only for idiots?  
 Maybe it’s just me, but I never dreamed I would encounter so much discouragement from family, friends, and fellow dancers who never miss an opportunity to remind me that Harvard and belly dance just don’t jive.  Ok, I’ll give my family a pass.  They love me and care about my well being and are very proud of my education.  They’ll never get the whole belly dance thing.  They think it’s stupid.  They also think I’m risking my life.  They’ll never understand that Egypt is not Iraq.  Ok, I can accept that.  They only want the best for me.  
 But what about everyone else?  When did knocking people’s life choices become the fad?  I personally don’t care what others do with their lives, as long as they’re happy and don’t hurt anyone.  And right now, I am HAPPY and am not hurting anyone, so why can’t people stop criticizing my life choices?  Sometimes they make me want to forget I ever went to Harvard! 
I’m not prone to major bouts of self doubt, but this has gotten to the point where I can’t find one person who supports what I do.  Not ONE!  Even Egyptian talent agents who make a pretty penny working with me think that what I’m doing is wrong, being that I went to Harvard.  Hello!!!  Don’t you want my money?!  Don’t tell me these things or I just might believe you and go home!  
Sometimes I think I’m from a different planet, because all I’ve ever done is encourage people to follow their dreams.  I mean, don’t we live in the age of Oprahs and Dr. Phils urging us to do what makes us happy, and not merely what we’re “supposed” to do?  Or does that apply to everyone in the universe except me? 

On a different note, I’d like to point out that belly dancing actually requires A LOT of intelligence.  So does living in Cairo.  Granted, there are many kinds of intelligence, but I’m talking about book smarts.  I actually think that academic intelligence can be an asset in this dance.  Academics learn how to think abstractly.. They are constantly creating ideas and inventing things.  Academics are also highly informed about the contexts in which they operate.  When applied to dancing in Cairo, these skills can work miracles. 

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not like I expect to be belly dancing in Cairo for the rest of my life.  I do realize that this is a short-lived, stressful career, and that I’ll have to have Plan B later on down the line.  I know about social security and pensions and all that stuff that I should have when I’m older… and oh yes, kids.  But this doesn’t mean that I can’t pursue my dream job while I’m still young and able.  I have plenty of time to sit and rot in an office from 9-5, but I just don’t want to do that now.  Not when youth, enthusiasm, energy and ability are still on my side.  
Heck, maybe I’m wrong.  Even so, we all need to be lied to sometimes!  But until I’m proven crazy beyond a reasonable doubt, I think I’ll continue being the Harvard belly dancer. ;)


  1. Diana, you are wrong I SUPPORT WHAT YOU DO! lol. I have an MBA in International Business and 10 years as a professional in the Software industry. I was making a ton of money and quit to teach dance... because that's what I truly love. Happiness is priceless! Enjoy your life and forget what anyone else may think... their opinion about what you do is not your business :) Muah!

  2. Thanks so much for your support Sahar, and I'm glad someone finally understands where I'm coming from. And yes, happiness IS priceless.

  3. Hi Luna - I just found your site yesterday and I love reading about all your experiences! Thank you for writing so generously and fearlessly. Don't listen one little bit to those people who say you shouldn't dance - they're just jealous :) I know I am! I wish I had found belly dancing 10 years ago... i just started taking classes 9 months ago (though I have been dancing ballet and modern dance all my life) and I'm already 30! So live the dream, girl! oxoxo from MN

  4. Thanks for your support Viv, and I'm glad you like my blog. And keep up your belly dancing. 30 is not too late to start learning. And you'll find the dance addicting! Best of luck to you. <3

    1. Bravo for following your bliss!!! Your soul wants to dance....good for you!!! Maybe you were Egyptian in past life and you returned home!!! Welcome can write a book about your experiences....


  5. Wow, this is soooo inspirational :D Sorry for the 1 year after comment, but I just discovered your blog and already spent a few hours reading it, and this time I had to reply. I know how it feels, I am, hopefully, one year away from getting a law school diploma here in Croatia. It takes so much time, so much sitting and rotting in front of the books, which for a dancer is blasphemy, but I'll do it if it's the last thing on earth for me :) I never want to be anyathing else in my life except a good dancer, but a diploma might have it's advantages.. for instance, in a country where people still don't know much about belly dance - it's not just here, I know, but in Balkan things like dance to folkish music and in a two-piece costume is like an open invitation to be hired in all the wrong places. But when you have financial stability, at least you can say - I won't do this or that, my life doesn't depend on that strictly. And of course, better costumes, more workshops, more festivals etc.. it all takes money.
    All in all, I congratulate you and think it's absolutely wonderful that you are a dancer and a highly educated woman. Only thing I would add - I hope you won't stop dancing once you start rotting in an office 9 - 5, it can work together.
    Kisses from Zagreb :)

    1. Hi Zinka,
      Thanks for your comment. Glad to hear you're going through law school. Bravo to you. :) You're right, it's extremely important to have some kind of degree these days, even if we are going to pursue dance full time. It's funny though how people like you and me wind up making our lives all about dance. Like you said, nothing matters more to me than being a good dancer. It's the same for me, and I'm still wondering why. :)