Michelle & Sandra
in front of the Humayoun tomb
The Grand International
We Fled India at Midnight,
Eluding Our Captors and
Evading our Go-Go-Dance
What Would Fifi Do?
international tour of the America Bellydance Company would have
been perfect. If not for
- Anal Cavity
strip-searches performed on Indian Foreign Ministers by the
United States customs
Times paparazzi and the photos that drove us into hiding
The American Bellydance Company's tour to China
has been cancelled. The
Chinese government has informed us that our debut venue, a brand-new,
state of the art amphitheater, has no roof. Michelle has to tell
21 dancers and musicians that all of their rehearsals have been
for nothing. In a last ditch effort, still unaware that the fates
are against us, we contact Michelle's agent in India.
Us - "We have
21 dancers and musicians ready to go."
Him - "That
sounds like quite a show. I can only afford seven."
Us - "How
about 21? It's an extravaganza for the Indian people."
Him - "No.
Make it seven. - tour starts in three weeks."
The American Bellydance Company:
starting at the bottom left and going clockwise...
Sandra, Luna, Holly, Mira, Hannah, Aliza, Michelle
by Amy "Luna"
In the face
of great disappointment, a third of the company frantically reconstructs
the entire 90-minute show. All we need now are Indian performance
While we wait,
the news breaks in India
that the Foreign Minister has been strip-searched by US customs
officials. India is
outraged! All American visa applications are summarily declined.
But wait, our guy knows a guy who knows a guy who can get us in.
But who could have foreseen the Ukrainian prostitution ring that
next hit the Indian headlines.
may not have been such a problem for us had the prostitutes
not been posing as bellydancers!
So, with the
American Bellydance Company under suspicion of prostitution,
our back-up tour has also fallen through. However, our agent
insists that he can get Michelle and Sandra
into the country with last year's paperwork (we trust this booking
agent implicitly, despite last
year's bellydance tour terrorist attack . see article).
go wrong?" we ask as boarding our flight from San Francisco to
Los Angeles to Osaka to Bangkok to Delhi. We're obviously in
the hands of professionals.
forgave our agent for being 3 hours late picking us up at the
airport (in the middle of the night after a 48 hour journey) because
he promised to take us to a glamorous Bollywood fashion show to
rub elbows with celebrities the next day. You see, our agent
can be very charming. He shares with us his dreams of bringing
bellydance to the Indian subcontinent. He reveals that he is
currently negotiating with Fifi Abdu for a national
tour later that year. Well, if he's good enough for Fifi.
To avoid getting
mired in details, let us say that the Bollywood fashion show was
not what we expected, but resulted in:
photos of us being published in national news outlets
officials accusing our agent of having us in the country illegally
- the cancellation
of all upcoming performances
- our removal
from the capital
- the commencement
of what our agent calls "laying low"
Since we were
no longer profitable, our agent put us on an 18-hour train ride
to Calcutta for the reasonable price of $7. The obvious discomfort
of the journey was exacerbated by our 250 pounds of luggage containing
thousands of dollars of bellydance costumes, which could not leave
our sight (and caused us to be mocked by the Indian farmers who
shared our very crowded compartment).
18 hours gave us time to reflect and we agreed that Fifi Abdu
would never surrender to this treatment quietly. Which brought
us to our motto for the remainder of the trip: What would Fifi
When we staggered
off the train we were taken not to a hotel, but to the less conspicuous
Punjabi State Headquarters, where we were given two servants stationed
outside our room to preclude us from ever having to leave.
Michelle in Pushkar
for attentive hospitality at the Punjabi State Headquarters, quickly
became oppressive and intrusive at all hours of the day and night.
Our agent seemed to have abandoned us, and our pleas for a 5-star
hotel (or just clean sheets) were routinely ignored.
"What would Fifi do?" led us to the inevitable conclusion that
the best country club in Calcutta was more appropriate to our
needs. . And if our agent wanted us to do any shows he could very
well come pay our bill to get us out. After a blissful day of
extremely affordable massages and facials, the cell phone rings.
has found us. He demands to know why we have left the State
Headquarters and tells us that he is severing all professional
ties with us. We toast our good fortune and plan beauty treatments
for the afternoon.
we've agreed on our glorious travel plans for the remainder of
our time in India, the
phone rings again.
you. I'm in the lobby"
runs cold! Will he drag us out by our hair? Are we going to
prison? Summary executions? He handed us a pile of cash, paid
our bill, put us on the next plane to Delhi, put us in a 5-star
hotel and told us we have a show the next day. Fifi would be
Let us fast forward
to the show. After asking us why our costumes are so conservative
(!!!) our agent tells us that the audience is not interested in
our choreography, so we are to be go-go dancers on tiny platforms
to Hindi hip-hop. Fifi would be livid! We do 3 sets, but the audience
barely sees anything because our neck-less body guards are enormous
and stand in front of us at all times to shield us from the crowd.
with snakeman Lord Shiva
We are told
that the hotel management loved the show and that we have another
engagement there next weekend. According to our calculations,
Fifi would not have taken this for a second longer. So, channeling
the power of Fifi Abdu as we zoom towards the airport, we successfully
change our flights and spend the remainder of our grand international
bellydance tour relaxing and "laying low" at a spa in Thailand.
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
Extremists Riot at Belly Dance Show by Michelle
the time, I was beginning to understand that this was a potentially
dangerous and explosive situation. But I had no way of knowing
how much danger I was really in.
The Joy (and Pain)
of Collecting Tips by Sandra
I've been collecting tips for almost 10 years now, and it's only
in the last 2 or 3 years that I've really felt confident about
How I Accidentally
Became a Successful Belly Dance Teacher (and you can too!)
by Michelle Joyce
Now mine is the most popular class, which led to a snowballing
of other gyms adding belly dance aerobics classes.
Romancing the Stonewall
Comic by Alexandria
dear, can you send me a payment?"
Unchained! by Monique
the hell is Miles Copeland? And, what is he doing in our ancient
and sacred world of Middle Eastern dance?