by Luna

by Luna

Luna

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

Saturday, June 4, 2011

FINALLY!

So I received excellent news this morning! My work papers have been approved by the Egyptian government!  (Well, whatever remains of it :D). I'm now legally authorized to work as a belly dancer in Cairo.  Finally!  It only took, oh, 2 and half years and a revolution!  Well, not really.  I was contracted to dance at the Semiramis last year, but that ended sooner than it started (for reasons I’ll write about in my next post).  A week after that drama, I passed an audition at a Nile Cruise called Le Memphis, which then applied for a license to hire foreign dancers.  The next step was contracting me and processing the paperwork, which took much longer than it should have. 
First, the man whom I hired to process my papers has chronic sleep syndrome, or so I like to joke.  This was THE laziest man on the planet—the personification of sleep itself.  And even though he would have made good money doing my papers, he just couldn’t get around to doing it!  If he stood me up once, he stood me up a thousand times.  Months of rejecting my phone calls and making up lame excuses went by before this man even began to process my paperwork, and that only happened after I was about to get deported for performing without papers!  By the time I got fed up with this person and looked for someone else to do my papers, 8 months and a whole revolution had gone by!


Second, due to the political events that swept over Egypt in the beginning of the year, there was no way my working papers could have been processed.  To make matters worse, the Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs announced that it would ban all foreigners from working in Egypt.  The foreign minister eventually amended that statement, saying that only those foreigners who were deemed necessary for the prosperity of Egypt would be given work permits.  But that meant that we would now have to prove that I, an American belly dancer, was necessary for the prosperity of Egypt, and that I wouldn’t be taking work away from Egyptians.  Needless to say, neither assertion could be further from the truth.  As much as I’d like to think so, my belly dancing is not necessary for Egypt’s prosperity.  And, it does take work away from other Egyptian dancers (I learned that the hard way, when disgruntled Egyptian dancers tried to get me deported for “taking away their work” on the boat). 
Given the new policy on foreign workers, you could imagine how I would start to lose hope.  And you could imagine how ecstatic I was upon learning that the minister himself signed my papers.  I guess that means I’m necessary for the prosperity of Egypt.  What a delightful thought.  ;)  I am also officially the first foreign dancer to be contracted after the onset of the revolution.  What an honor. :)
Of course, none of this would have been possible without the hard work and dedication of the person I hired to process my papers after getting nowhere with Mr. SleepyHead.  I am eternally grateful to him for being honest, active, and totally unshakeable under pressure from certain people who have tried to make me fail (yes, one does pick up a few enemies while trying to make it as a belly dancer in Cairo.  It’s unfortunate, but inevitable).   I am also thankful to Mr. Safaa Farid for his encouragement, support, and levelheadedness during these difficult times.  It’s nice to know that there are good people in the Cairo dance community. 

2 comments:

  1. I would love to know,how much money and nerves took to finish all papers..

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  2. It took a lot of money and nerves. Had to travel outside the country (in my case twice), and pay for the papers. As for nerves, well, it took a lot of that too! Apparently the government isn't allowing new foreigners to be contracted for any kind of work right now. In my case, my work permit from last year was renewed, so I wasn't considered a "new" foreigner...hopefully things will change soon.

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