The Mysterious PERFORMERS' DRESSING ROOM at Rakassah*,
Otherwise Known as the Women's Restroom...
(*Rakassah is a Middle Eastern music & dance festival held in the San Francisco Bay Area each spring)
by Bobbie Giarratana
photos by Jeanine Brandi & Susie Poulelis
posted April 1999
The day had arrived and I had agreed to help my friend, Nadhira, into her costume just before her performance at 2:30 that Saturday afternoon. We entered the women's restroom as the crowds of shoppers outside reached a frenzied peak. The crowd in the bathroom was a glamorous mix of shoppers, performers and well-wishing friends, all in costume and all slightly less frenzied than the crowd outside.
Nerves and excitement aside, everyone was cheerful and supportive as they pinned their loose costumes or squeezed themselves into tight ones. While Nadhira dressed I shamelessly eavesdropped on conversation around me. To my surprise (and I have to admit, disappointment!) no one was swapping juicy gossip or giving last-minute performance advice like I expected. Instead, here were women draping fancy sequined veils over each other while they discussed dental appointments and child care. This is what I heard:
"Ah, what a pretty name!"
"Has anyone seen a little blue clip around here?"
"I use a cold wax on my armpits."
"I think I still have fifty bucks left, let's stay a little longer."
"Who lost a key?"
"I'm gonna have to sew up this slit."
"What's the name of your physical therapist?"
"You have lipstick on your teeth."
As the wigs were adjusted and the lipstick applied (then removed, then re-applied) I realized that this is where the mystery of theater begins; the spot on earth where mortal women are transformed into magical divas. The Women's Restroom. This is where glamor is born.