Gilded Serpent presents...
dances at the Luxor Nightclub
Photos by Jamal
at the New Luxor Restaurant
in South San Francisco!
I was recently invited by a close dance friend
to join her, along with four other dancers to experience the newest
dance/nightclub venue in South San Francisco. She informed
me it was a very fancy dinner club, with live Egyptian music and
a dancer. There was a prix-fixed fee of $30.00 per person
(not including drinks or desert), that included the live music,
dancer's show and a meal. Perhaps I'm not totally sophisticated,
but $30.00 a plate to see a dancer and listen to live music is
in the expensive range for my usual travels. [The price has
now risen to $40 -ed] This sounded exciting and I happily embarked
on our personal caravan to experience The Luxor Nightclub.
I have seen
many varieties of shows in my career, extending from North Beach
to the traditional Moroccan dinner ambiance. I have danced
in various Middle Eastern styled restaurants and don't consider
myself a novice regarding the variety of foods, or ambiance of
these familiar venues;
The Luxor was about to throw all my preconceptions
about entertainment venues to the winds.
all The Luxor is located in a quiet, rather run
down area of town. The outside of this huge restaurant/nightclub
has a rather small sign signaling its existence. Though
the sign is a beautiful picture of a pyramid and advertises "Mediterranean
Food", the entrance to the club had huge remnant architecture
of a prior chain restaurant. For the Saturday nightclub
show, the main restaurant is closed off and you are instructed
to enter by a side entrance. Reservations are necessary.
is glamorous, beautiful with its mural sized paintings of Egyptian
hieroglyphs and Queen Nefertiti. It is a huge space with
dining tables set around a midnight blue dance floor with palm
trees and Art Deco styled Egyptian lamps fringing the stage.
Very impressive. This is indeed a fancy
place to dine. The owner greeted us warmly at the door, recognizing
two of the dancers in our party.
were then escorted to a table that was almost obscured behind
the palm trees that flanked the stage and seemed to be in a
more darkened area of the club.
is a nightclub, Egyptian style, the evening does not start until
after 9:00pm. By this time our group was eagerly awaiting our
$30.00 a plate dinners. We did not notice any menus or notes
on the table regarding what was being served. The only sign
on each table explained that drinks could not be served after
1:30 a.m. and no alcohol could be taken home from the premises.
could easily sit 200 people at banquet sized tables. When
we arrived, there were about six other occupied tables besides
ours. Since we had a disadvantaged view of the stage or
the dance floor from where we were seated, we asked a waiter if
we could move to a table one row up, which gave us a better view
of the club. He politely accommodated us.
was the last accommodation we would receive during the evening's
patrons around us being brought drinks, and food, yet not one
waiter stopped by our table. I had to finally tap on the
arm of a waiter as he was rushing by our table. He seemed
a little put out to have to talk to us. When asked if there
was a menu to order from, he looked quite shocked and stated,
"This is a nightclub, where you pay a fixed price of $30.00 which
includes food, and the live entertainment,
there is no menu." He pointed to patrons around us, who
were receiving different plates of unknown foods..and said, "Everyone
is served the same meal". Well, perhaps I am naive, but
for $30.00 a plate, I'd like to at least have an idea what we
are going to be served. When I again asked what the meal was comprised
of, he look bewildered, told us to look
at other people's tables and walked off. Two of our company
had to practically tie him down just to get a drink order.
already started me off in a bad disposition. Next a different
waiter appears at our table, almost as if he was begrudgingly
stopping by. I again asked if there was a list of what came
with the dinner show for the menu. He looked in his order
book and started to ramble off a list of various meza plates,
when I asked what one of the orders was, he just shrugged his
shoulders and never finished telling us what we were getting.
the band started playing. This was one of the only saving
graces I could find about this nightclub.
was an excellent band with a singer, drummer, keyboard player
and various electronic musical effects. The singer had an
excellent voice and the music was wonderful to hear live.
At this point, more and more people were coming in for the show.
Everyone there was Middle Eastern; I didn't think much of this
at the time, being used to being in many clubs and restaurants
that catered mainly to Middle Easterners.
finally arrived and began feverishly throwing a variety of dishes
on our table, which he didn't name. It was obviously a meza
collection, but in the dark ambiance it was hard to see what everything
was that was being slammed onto our table. There was tons
of hummus, Babaghanouj, a special yogurt dish, tabbouli, a coleslaw
type salad, pita bread, olives, feta cheese and pickled vegetables.
Large quantities of everything.
When the waiter was asked which specific things were, he said
he didn't know and said, "Yeah...it's what she just said" as one
of my friends was identifying one of the dishes. We
were all feeling really uncomfortable about the strange treatment
we were receiving. Well, we figured this was what
the whole meal must have consisted of, since we hadn't seen any
other food and nothing else was mentioned. Though I have
to say the food was excellent and plentiful. But that high
of a price for just Meza and a live show..I was beginning to get
a sour taste in my mouth.
as we began to calm down and enjoy our food,
the owner comes fiercely striding towards our table with
a scowl and a dark look on his face. He begins to berate
and yell at us for moving from our original table.
I felt that at any moment the "boys" were going to take us out
back and shoot us for our grave belligerence. He informed
us that we were had been originally seated at a particular table
(the worst in the house, when there was about 100 other better
tables unfilled), reserved for us alone. He stated that
the table we were moved to was
especially reserved for a particular party. Behind him we
noticed a group of Egyptian men and women. He (the owner)
kept demanding that we move back to our original places or explain
the meaning of such horrendous behavior as reseating ourselves.
Most of us didn't say a word, feeling a sense of eminent doom
like being thrown out through a window. Obviously these
must have been rather special customers;.but
they were eventually reseated at a table that was clearly even
a better table than the one we were occupying. I have never
felt such wrath directed toward me as a paying customer in any
It was then
that I began to try to understand why we seemed to be treated
so rudely, and with a finality and unattentiveness to our table
and selves. I thought to myself: isn't my patronage and
money just the same as anyone else's? Why is there a concerted
effort of tension around just our group?
arrived, with no explanation of its contents. The final meal
included falafels, and a mouthwatering entree of rice and bugler
pilaf with Lulah Kebab and marinated chicken pieces. The
food was definitely worth the price. But when we requested
to keep unfinished plates of food on the table, they were whisked
11:00 p.m., the dancer came out. The dancer was Terry, a
beautiful woman who understood a very traditional Egyptian cabaret
style of dance.
audience loved her, and she danced her heart out. She
included Raks Al Assaya as part of her routine and not only
was she a superb dancer, but she had a lovely smile that encompassed
the entire audience. She was very connected with the musicians
and their rapport was evident.
In true Egyptian
style she was showered with dollar bills during her performance
from both men and women alike. It is a Turkish tradition
to put tips on the dancer's body, while in Egypt
and some other countries it is considered improper and vulgar.
was still in full swing, with the band playing for at least two
hours and the dance show before their first break.
I had to
admit that once we were served the full menu, the food was excellent,
plentiful and well worth the price. But the uncertainties
of not knowing what you were going to be served and the rude half
slop house/ contempt service from most of the staff made it hard
for us to fully enjoy the meal.
There seemed to be a concerted effort to get us out
of the nightclub as soon as they could.
I asked for a cup of coffee, I was informed that they did not
serve coffee, as the restaurant section was closed, and the nightclub
area didn't have coffee made. The second waiter I asked
responded that there was coffee and came back to our table with
some. This was followed by endless requests for such simple necessities
as cream, spoons etc. as they rushed past our table. If
unfinished food was asked to be wrapped up, only one plate would
be taken, wrapped up and returned to the guest. Each respective
person had to grab a waiter and ask for their leftovers to be
wrapped. I have never seen such strange behavior in my life.
eventually, to my horror, dawned on me why such hostile behavior
was directed towards us as patrons. We were the only non
Middle Eastern people in the entire club; we were also a table
of five women with no male escorts. I understood immediately
that this club did not want to share its cultural style with
non Middle Eastern people.
all the ups and downs of various clubs and restaurants and owners
from many countries that we have all experienced as dancers, not
once have I ever seen the xenophobic discrimination I experienced
at The Luxor nightclub. It was not only my
feeling, but that of everyone that came with us. It's a
shock and maybe in some ways an interesting journey to the other
side of negative racial discrimination. But it was a sad
experience, too, especially since the band, music and dancer were
all first rate--what anyone would have loved to experience.
but I will never recommend you to anyone I know. Instead, I will
warn others against even thinking of having a worthwhile evening
at your club.
101 Brentwood Drive.
South San Francisco, California
Owners: Rocky Kardosh and Nabil El Safy
Nightclub hours start at 9:00 PM
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
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