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

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Politics of Harassment

“Egyptian women sexually harassed at anti-harassment rally,” read this week's headlines.  Well isn’t that ironic? 

On Friday, a few hundred women staged an anti-harassment rally to protest the sexual harassment that is ubiquitous in Egypt.  Male supporters formed a protective circle around them, only to be overwhelmed by hordes of violent young men who sexually assaulted some of the protesting women.  

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is what happens when women stand up for themselves in Egypt.   

Wait, maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to condemn.  Let’s look at the bright side.  Some Egyptian women and men are starting to recognize that sexual harassment is a HUGE problem and are willing to do something about it.  It’s unfortunate that it took several instances of revolution-related gang rape for them to wake up, but at least they’ve awoken.  Better late than never. :/

Monday, June 4, 2012

"No Justice, No Peace"

In the words of New York firebrand Al Sharpton, “no justice, no peace.”  That’s what came to mind upon hearing the verdict of the Mubarak trial two days ago.  I’ve never had much use for the Reverend Al, but his words reverberated in my head as thousands of Egyptians took to the streets, enraged that Mubarak and Co. were let off the hook.  Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison for failing to stop the shooting of protesters.  So was his minister of interior, Habib Al-Adly.  His sons Gamal and Ala got off scot-free.  So did the 6 officers charged with actually pulling the trigger on protesters in the beginning of the revolution. 

If that’s not getting off the hook, I don’t know what is.  You’d think that after 30 years of robbing the country, they could come up with enough charges to put him in the electric chair.  Or wrap a noose around his neck and mete out justice in Tahrir Square, Iraqi style.  Which is basically what a lot of Egyptians clamored for.  Especially the relatives of those who died in the revolution.  Instead, Mubarak was found guilty of only one thing, and completely innocent(!) of various corruption charges…  

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Lesser of Two Evils

“El-Tet” 24/7 Belly Dance TV

Sorry, this is going to be long.  I have a lot to say. 

If there’s anything positive coming out of post revolutionary Egypt, it’s the new belly dance channel “El-Tet.”  El-Tet, which is based in Bahrain and has an office in Cairo, features performances by Egyptian and foreign belly dancers 24 hours a day.  That’s right.  Shimmies and undulations around the clock on national Egyptian TV.  The channel, which is a little over a year old, takes its name from the Egyptian Arabic word for the accordion/tabla section of a baladi piece. It’s actually pronounced “tit,” which conjures up the wrong images for us English speakers.  That’s why you’ll almost always see it transliterated as “El-Tet.”  Short “e,” not “i.” :)

I first encountered the new channel last December, when some of my musicians insisted they had seen me dancing on TV.  I hadn’t heard of it before and had no idea why they were saying this, although I found the idea of a channel named “The Tit” quite hilarious.  So I assumed they probably saw another dancer who resembled me.  I was right.  My tabla player showed me the clip on his mobile phone of the dancer in question, and sure enough, it wasn’t me.  Don’t know how he confused us, but then again, Egyptians tend to think all of us foreigners look alike. :)

                  Dancing to "Ya Helwa Sabah" on El-Tet