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

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Audiences of Cairo

One of the perks of being a contracted dancer in Cairo is that you get to perform quite regularly.  Some of us work multiple times a week.  Others work multiple times a day, depending on the venue, the popularity of the dancer, and these days, whether there’s enough business. And what could be better than that?  Doing what you love every single day.  It seems like the ideal work situation.  And it is. Except I wasn’t too sure of that when I first got contracted.  Here’s why.
Anytime art becomes your job, you run the risk of losing your passion.  That’s because a “job” entails obligation, routinization, and money, and there’s something about art that’s antithetical to all of that.  Art is a gift from God (or the universe or whatever you call it).  It’s not something we can force out of ourselves whenever we want.  That’s why we often hear the word “inspiration” associated with art.  The artist seeks out and waits for inspiration.  And when it comes, the artist becomes impassioned and produces her best work.  Since inspiration can neither be forced nor rushed, it seems ridiculous to make art our job, the way we would law, or medicine, or dry cleaning.  And yet, somehow, after a year of performing every single night, I have not lost an ounce of passion for the dance.  Rather, what I’ve noticed is that my passion for the dance has increased, and is highly dependent on the enthusiasm of the audience.   

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

On Being Egyptian

I’m not Egyptian and I don’t pretend to be, but I’d be lying if I said I haven’t picked up a few Egyptian habits.  Being Egyptian is contagious. :) Particularly when you live here for a while and speak the language pretty fluently.  That’s all quite normal, I guess.  But it’s interesting in light of the fact that I grew up in a country where it’s common for foreigners to cling onto their native cultures and resist assimilation.  So when I step outside of myself and observe the ways in which my thoughts, mannerisms, and even speech have transformed, I can’t help but chuckle at how much I’ve unintentionally assimilated into Egyptian culture.  
For example.  I’ve gotten into the very Egyptian habit of staring at beautiful women. :)  Now, I don’t lean that way, and I definitely don’t harass them.  But like most Egyptian men and women, I can’t help but marvel at beautiful people.  Which is pretty hypocritical,  being that I hate when people stare at me.  Even if it’s because they think I’m cute.  I think staring is rude and is an invasion of personal space.  Besides, I learned not to do it in Kindergarten. :)