the camera was stolen,
these photos had to be lifted from the video!
to India –
This Time it’s Personal!
We thought that the misfortunes
associated with our previous performance tours of India were simply
anomalies in the blissful and glamorous world of dancing overseas.
Sure, Michelle was the target of a terrorist attack during her
show in 2003 , but she lived to tell the tale. And just because
we had to flee the country in the dead of the night to escape
from our crazed agent in
2004 , that is no reason to hold a grudge against all Indian
say the third time is a charm, so we threw our expensive Bella
costumes into our suitcases and were on our way…. if only the
suitcases containing said costumes had not been lost by Air India!
discussing lost luggage, bomb threats, contract breaches, and
being robbed blind, we will start at the beginning. We had learned
from our previous experiences, so this time we negotiated a no-nonsense
contract with one of India’s most reputable entertainment agencies.
We were no longer going to mess around with small-time, industry
nobodies. This was the agent that Joe Satriani
used when he toured India just 6 months ago. And Joe is no schmuck.
has been called the Silicon Valley of India, and, because we are
from Silicon Valley, we thought it sounded quite appealing. When
we arrived, we were thrilled to see that 30 billboards featuring
our enormous photos (compliments of Michael
Baxter) were towering over busy streets throughout the city.
Our agent had launched a full-scale advertising campaign for our
New Year’s Eve performance. Gas stations were giving away lottery-style
scratch cards that held the promise of winning a free ticket to
the show. Music stores even had life-size cardboard cut-outs of
us on display next to the Bollywood CD’s. Our agent had effectively
created quite a buzz around town and told us that we should expect
a crowd of several thousand for our show. So far, so good!
came Bangalore’s first terrorist attack… ever. The entire city
was shut down and permits for all New Year’s Eve performances
With the next
few days came a series of bomb threats and the mood went from
cautious to chaotic. Our agents were so busy trying to secure
a new venue and performance permits that they had totally forgotten
about us. We needed them to help us track down our lost luggage,
for one thing. We also needed them to help us find a laptop
so that we could burn our performance CD’s. And was it too much
to ask to simply listen to the Hindi song that they had asked
us to incorporate into the show?
With our hosts
missing in action, we were left in the care of a 21-year-old DJ,
who told us that the music we had planned to use was too boring
and that he would be sure to mix it with techno and pop music
as we were performing. Great.
After no word
for several days, we heard from our agent three hours before the
calling to say that we were late for the sound check.
At this point
we still had not located our lost luggage, had not burned CDs,
had not heard the Hindi song, had not seen the venue, and had
not been told what the structure of the show would be. We had
moved way beyond being stressed and angry to just shrugging our
shoulders - whatever!
to our Indian friends, Westerners worry too much. They truly
had no idea why we would bother with such details. They had looked
at us as if we were crazy when we wanted to discuss specifics
of the show a full four days in advance. To
our amazement, in those crazy three hours before the show all
of our issues were resolved. Our agent finally secured a performance
permit and even managed to persuade the Air India officials to
locate our lost bags!
When we arrived
at the venue, we were very pleased. The stage had been custom
built (possibly just one hour earlier) for our performance. There
was professional stage lighting, a top-notch sound system, several
video screens, and there were even giant photos of us as the backdrop.
from various Indian TV stations were set up in front of the
stage and our agent said that they had sold 5,000 tickets.
on the stage, it was impossible to see the audience through the
bright lights. For a few brief moments, when we were quickly
spinning around and when the smoke machine and strobe light were
going, we became so dizzy and disoriented that we worried that
we might dance right off the edge of the stage! But
we were too exhausted from the day’s events to be nervous about
we did still have the presence of mind to be worried about the
Our show had
not been specifically threatened, but people all over the city
were worried about participating in crowded events. Everyone was
being advised against convening in large numbers.
While we were
doing our first set, someone had broken into our dressing room
by cutting a hole through the wall. Our dressing room, which we
lovingly called “our shanty”, was made of tin roofing material
and lined with colorful tapestries. Anyone could now reach through
the torn wall. We made a few passing comments about hoping that
no one would throw a grenade inside, then got dressed for the
next set. It wasn’t until later that we discovered Sandra’s expensive
camera, among other things, had been stolen.
matters worse, at that exact moment, across town, someone was
also robbing our hotel room.
problems aside, the show itself went very well. The DJ didn’t
mutilate our music, not a single grenade was thrown into our dressing
room, we didn’t fall off the stage, and the audience cheered wildly
the whole time. We got a good laugh when our agent whisked us
away from the over-excited group of well-wishers that surrounded
it dawned on us: we had not gotten paid before the show.
about getting paid, we meant to get paid, but with all of the
excitement we just forgot! We don’t usually require payment up-front,
but our new, no-nonsense contract specifically requires it.
to go to the airport that night, but Sandra was planning to stick
around for a few more days. Surely she would get the money the
next day. After all, if Joe Satriani trusted this guy, why shouldn’t
But the payment
did not come the next day. Nor did it come within the next several
days. Poor Sandra spent all day, every day demanding our money.
The agent would give excuses and assure her he’d pay her the next
day. That exact routine was repeated for several days.
help converting fie to quicktime needed!
Sandra was positive that they all hated her for acting like a
crazed woman while demanding the money, they offered her a job
as their Marketing Manager because they admired her assertive,
business-savvy attitude. After finally paying her for the performance,
they offered her an apartment, a car, and a handsome salary.
She graciously turned them down and switched her focus to getting
herself out of the country.
Now that we’re
safely back home, our agent is talking about flying us out for
a weekend in February to perform in a Bollywood concert. Sounds
like fun, but we just don’t know if we can handle another glamorous
overseas performance quite so soon! Plus, we are still waiting
for Air India to locate and return the bags we checked through
on the return flight to America!
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
The Grand International Bellydance
Tour or How We Fled India at Midnight, Eluding Our Captors and
Evading our Go-Go-Dance Responsibilities. or What Would Fifi Do?
may not have been such a problem for us had the prostitutes not
been posing as bellydancers!
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.
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 Dina Show!
Photos by Catherine Barros, Slideshow coding by Tammy Yee
sponsored by Little Egypt on May 28-30, 2005 at the Crowne Plaze
in Miami, Florida
Sirat Al-Ghawazi, Part
9 by Edwina Nearing
in the mid-1970's , the early sections of "Sirat Al-Ghawazi"
were first published under the title "The Mystery of the
Ghawazi." We are happy to be able to respond to the continued
demand for these articles by making them available to our readers