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, October 5, 2013

The Festival Farce

I’ve decided to lay off the politics for a while and get back to writing about dance.  Though admittedly, there's not much of a difference…

I’ve been wanting to write about Egyptian dance festivals for a while, but have refrained for fear of pissing people off.  Now, I no longer care.  I've realized that no matter what you do, people will be pissed, so you might as well give them a reason.  Like telling the truth.  Which is exactly what I will do in this post.  I want to talk about what really goes on in the world of dance festivals.   Not that we don’t all already know.  But after 5 years of witnessing this stuff, I feel like sharing it.  Because what I’ve discovered is that the policies, practices, and philosophies that go into creating festivals have nothing to do with art, and everything to do with greed.  And it’s high time someone called it out. 

The original idea of creating A dance festival in Egypt was brilliant.  It was intended to be an annual event in which the best of Egypt’s folklore and belly dancers would teach foreign dance enthusiasts.  Licensed foreigners performing in Egypt would also be featured.  The mission was to promote Egyptian dance.  The rationale was that since belly dance originated in Egypt, who better to teach it than Egyptians and foreigners licensed to dance in Egypt?  

Friday, September 27, 2013

Egypt: Reasons for Hope

We all know how much of a pessimist I can be when it comes to Egypt.  And with good reason.  For a while, it seemed that rottenness knew no limits.  Not only had a demonic, Islamist/Nazi regime hijacked the country, but the quality of life had quickly deteriorated (not that it was any good to begin with).  The economy had imploded, unemployment went through the roof, huge lines of cars wrapped around the city, angrily waiting for a few liters of gas in the 100* heat, fights broke out everywhere, the traffic was impossible, and the heaps of garbage rivaled the tallest pyramids.  Then, as if things weren't bad enough, the country broke into a mini war, with one side attempting to bring down the Brotherhood regime, and the other attempting to preserve it.  The rest is history.

Three months later, I'm strangely happy to report that my signature pessimism has turned into optimism.  Yes, me, ever the naysayer, has found reason for hope.  Let me share with you why.

The garbage. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Ugly & The Inevitable

I'm currently in the US, but by the way I'm conducting my life, you'd never know it. If I'm not teaching or performing Egyptian dance, I'm glomming up Egyptian news. Or I'm on the phone with Egypt. I left my life in Cairo a little over a month ago, thinking that as usual, I'd spend Ramadan in the US, and go back to Egypt for the Eid holidays. But that's not how things played out. You see, I would have gone back 10 days ago, except that my parents were making my life miserable over that hoax of a terror alert for Americans in the Middle East. For the first time in a long while, I listened to them. Their constant insults and screaming at me for wanting to go to Egypt during such times was more than I could handle. So I dragged my butt to JFK Airport and told Al-Italia that I wanted to postpone my flight another two weeks.

Well, the two weeks aren't even finished, and I'm about to delay my return once again. As you all know, the situation in Egypt right now is a little bit, err, "uncomfortable." Not to mention there's no work. My presence there would neither contribute to Egypt nor to my wellbeing, so I see no reason to go back at this point. I mean, I guess I could go and just sit in my apartment all day and night, listening to gunfire. Or watch the news 24 hours a day. Or tell Facebook how brave I am for living in Egypt through these turbulent times, even though I really don't have to. I don't know. It just doesn't sound like the brightest idea to me. And it's not like I have something to prove. So I've decided to hang out in the good old US of A until things subside, or if they don't, until I feel it's safe enough for me to go back, collect my belongings, and say my goodbyes.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Democratic Republic of Egypt

This is long overdue. I would have published it earlier but I was busy traveling and doing workshops. So here you have it, my thoughs on the June 30th revolution.

I am newly in love with Egypt. I don’t know any other place on Earth where millions of people can oust two dictators in less than three years. I don’t know any other country where the military intervenes to execute the will of the people yet leaves the governing to civilians. Since the revolution, I’d lost my faith in this place, but what happened last month restored it.

Well, partially at least. I realize that the Egyptian armed forces are no angels, and that they’d committed a litany of crimes since the outbreak of the revolution. I’m also aware that technically (from an American vantage point at least), the army shouldn’t be meddling in domestic affairs or running the economy. And I can see how that could rub Americans the wrong way. That’s because in the United States, we can’t even begin to imagine the army commanding the president to step down! We’re used to power being neatly compartmentalized. Each branch of government, including the armed forces, has its responsibilities and limitations. There’s no overstepping of boundaries. (In theory at least.)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Revolution Part II

I have to admit, I've been feeling a bit uneasy.  I'm afraid of what's going to happen starting on June 30th.  Or really, about what's already happening.  In just two more days, the world is going to watch round two of the revolution—Egyptian People vs. the Egyptian Government Part II.  Egyptians will take to the streets in droves and try to topple their government yet again.  And while I fully support them, me suspects that the sequel is going to be a little longer. And a bit bloodier. :/

Why do I feel this way?  Well, because as of now, clashes between those who support Morsi (aka Big Beard) and those who don't have broken out all over the country.  So far, four are dead (one of them is a Brother), and hundreds are injured.  Morsi's speech the other night only made things worse.  All he did was make veiled threats, blame people for his failures and advise Egyptians to solve the electricity crisis by shutting off the lights!    

Friday, June 21, 2013

Leela Draws Luna

I'm so happy to share this outstanding work of art by Leela Corman, who in addition to being a belly dancer, is a top graphic novelist. After reading several of my status updates about my rather dramatic life in Cairo, Leela was inspired to illustrate a bit of it! :D 

A sneak peak of "Luna of Cairo" by Leela Corman.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

2013 Summer Workshops

Hey everyone!  It’s almost that time of year again (Ramadan) when I get to come home and relax from my busy life in Cairo.  Though honestly, I don’t think I’ll be doing much relaxing.  I’ve got a pretty busy workshop schedule set up for me, and I wanted to share that with all of you.  I’ll also be available for private lessons, and will be bringing plenty of new and used costumes for sale!  Please don’t hesitate to contact me or any of my sponsors for more information or to register.

In chronological order:

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Egyptian Weddings

As much as I love performing on the Nile Memphis, nothing beats the excitement of dancing at weddings.  Weddings are considered the “holy grail” of the belly dance industry, and with good reason.  Everything from the money to the exposure to the band and the dance floor is bigger.  (You know what they say about bigger. :D)  Though it’s often impossible to put on a show when hundreds of jubilant guests are crowding on top of you, I still enjoy dancing at weddings more than anywhere else. 
The main reason I prefer weddings is that my show is longer and my band is bigger.  Instead of my usual two costume changes and 6-piece band, I change my costumes four times, and expand my band to at least twenty members.  The music is rich, layered, detailed, and powerful.  Providing the sound system is decent, the music is so loud it takes over my body and does the dancing for me.  Suffice it to say that most of the time, I have no idea what I do/did on the dance floor—until I see a video (if there is one). 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I don’t know what to title this post.  “The Flight from Hell;” “I Hate Air France/Delta,” “Why I Love Egypt,”  “Flying Stinky;” “The Worst 48 Hours of My Life,” “Everything Works Out in the End” would all do, but none on its own would do justice to the magnitude of the disaster that was my flight from Egypt last weekend.  Let me explain why.

Earlier this year, I had been asked to do some workshops and performances in Cincinnati in April.  Given that I enjoy teaching, needed a break from Egypt, and needed to get the remaining two puppies to their new mommies in the US, I gladly accepted the invitation.  My sponsor booked me a roundtrip flight from Cairo to Cincinnati with Delta/Air France, which are one and the same now.  What ensured thereafter was a travel catastrophe of epic proportions, and another example of how Murphy’s Law hijacks my life every now and then.  Well, rather frequently actually…

Sunday, February 3, 2013


There’s been some talk about ethics in the belly dance community lately.  This is always a good topic, and something that needs to be discussed in any field.  But not when the discussion comes from a false position of self-righteousness, or when it’s a masquerade for a personal problem between people, or when it’s meant to embarrass and “expose” someone you don’t like.  When a discussion about ethics becomes the choice weapon in our own personal battles, then maybe it’s time to step off the podium and examine whether we’re living up to the standards to which we hold others.  

There seems to be an assumption in the belly dance world that the only issue of ethics pertaining to us is that of the casting couch.  Meaning, as long as we don’t have sex with managers, venue owners, or other “men of power” to procure work, we’re completely ethical artists.  While this is definitely one of the biggies, being an ethical artist entails much more than not selling your body for work.  

Friday, January 11, 2013

Touch of Life

An "ambassador" greeting us at TOL. :)
It’s no secret that animal cruelty is endemic in Egypt.  Anyone who has been here can tell you that.  From dogs to donkeys, cats to cows, it’s almost impossible not to witness an act of cruelty or neglect on a daily basis.  I know this isn’t unique to Egypt, and that cruelty to animals exists all over the world.  But the sheer magnitude and visibility of the problem here is overwhelming.  In fact, it’s so commonplace that many Egyptians don’t even consider it to be an issue.  Like sexual harassment, it’s a fact of life, not a “problem.” 
Examples of brutality to animals include but are not limited to: senselessly beating donkeys that are too “stupid” to obey their masters; beating, torturing, poisoning and shooting stray dogs; spraying toxic chemicals on dogs and cats causing them blindness; starving “work animals” such as donkeys, horses, and cows; transporting hordes of cattle, sheep, and donkeys in pickup trucks.  I’m sure there are other examples of abusive acts, but I’m incapable of imagining them.