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

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.

And boy was I flattered.  Not only because Leela is a friend, but because she's an exceptionally talented award-winning graphic novelist.  Last summer, I had the pleasure of reading Unterzakhn, Leela's latest book about early 20th century immigrant life in New York's Lower East Side.  Let's just say I couldn't put it down.  To be honest, I had never read a graphic novel before.  The closest I'd come to that was the comics section of the Daily News when I was a kid.  You know, the "funnies?"  Moreover, I could barely keep awake in my college History of New York City Immigration class.  Yet Unterzakhn is NOTHING like that.  This book literally kidnaps your attention from the get go--and transports you into the world of two young sisters stumbling into everything from pregnancy to prejudice to prostitution...

Unterzakhn has been nominated for some awards.

...not entirely different from my world right now (except the pregnancy part). :D  Seriously though, Leela asked me if I'd agree to have her illustrate a few episodes of my life in Cairo.  Of course I said yes.  I didn't have to give it any thought actually.  After reading her book and seeing the cover illustration she did for our friend Zaina's book
 Stories of a Traveling Belly Dancer, there was no question in my mind that I'd want her to draw me. :)

Our friend Zaina's book, which I highly recommend!

To get a better idea of what things are like for me right now, Leela asked me to write stuff down.  She asked me to explain in very simple terms what I do and how I feel about it, in light of the profound changes that have rocked Egypt, and of the deteriorating security situation.  So I was honest.  And that was something we discussed at length--exactly how honest I'd want to be.  

You see, these days, there's a bit of pressure (if not self-censorship) for expat dancers such as myself to shut not talk about the negative, sometimes scary things that have happened to us as a result of the security meltdown.  The assumption is that if we talk, we'll scare potential dance tourists from attending festivals. Which may or may nor be true.  But guess what folks? I don't work for the Ministry of Tourism or Misinformation.  Yes, I'm sensitive to the fact that Egypt needs tourism, but Egypt also needs a regime change. 
 Not to mention that we're headed for a disaster.  In 10 days or less, Egyptians are going to try to topple the government.  Many are expecting blood.  Some are predicting civil war.  If and when that happens, are we still going to insist that Egypt is safe?  Are we going to try to shove all the atrocities that will most likely happen under the carpet?  Pretend they're not happening?  Or say they're only happening in Tahrir?  Are we kidding the outside world, or kidding ourselves?  

Personally, I've never put financial considerations above honesty, nor am I good at making things look nicer than they are.  I am, however, a firm believer in security, and am appalled at the profound lack of it.  Plus, we're living through a very important historical transition in Egypt.  That's reason enough for people to be documenting things.  And that's part of what you'll see in Leela's piece. 

The other thing I should mention is that "Luna of Cairo" is published in the 3rd edition of Symbolia, an online magazine for illustrated journalism.  This edition is titled "Heroines," and it features four other first-person narratives of what the publisher calls "courageous women around the world."  I never thought of myself in those terms, much less as a comic strip superhero(ine), but then again, it's really all a  matter of perspective, isn't it? :D

You really owe it to yourself to download this comic.  Between Leela's attention to detail and her vivid imagination, this piece is guaranteed to make you laugh AND think.  It will also give you a glimpse of my reality these days. I'll say no more, other than that I'm completely honored and flattered that she found me worthy of drawing. Hope you enjoy this unique experience. ♥

You can download the full comic here.

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