Gilded Serpent presents…
Kliot models her elegant retro coat and gown for Bert
Part Two- Police Barriers Surround Event
by Najia Marlyz
Well, our fundraiser seemed magnificent to Bert
Balladine and me back in 1975! It made sense to
us: We needed money for our dance studio’s advertising fund,
and $2000 was an incredible amount of money in that time! It
appeared quite sensible (and a grand idea) that Bert and I should
stage a fundraiser for our recently opened dance studio. We
did not even consider organizing a car wash or a bake sale,
since we were part of a community that was actively involved
in the entertainment field.
coffee, we decided that our fundraiser would have to be an extraordinary
dance show rather than “just another student night” or worse
yet, a studio recital.
the many cabaret and dinner shows in Europe in which he had
danced and what memorable occasions they had been. Eager to
have similar experiences, I volunteered to find a venue that
was both affordable and large enough -- with a stage and a kitchen
so that we could organize our own dinner show in Berkeley.
I had been working at O Aitos Greek Taverna only two
years, but when I told Owner Ted Sofios about
our idea for a fundraiser to sponsor our Yellow Pages ad for
the Solano Avenue dance studio that I had opened in Albany,
he was not only supportive: he was enthusiastic! He volunteered
to dance and volunteered his entire troupe. Additionally, he
suggested that he might also persuade the Greek band he featured
in his taverna, The Meraklithes (led by John
Rekus) to join our party—and they did.
The Meraklithes Greek Band from O Aitos
Bert and I may have been somewhat delusional and somewhat heady
with enthusiasm, but our spirits soared and our hopes flew wild
as people volunteered to help. Bert said, "I think we
can do much more than a little student show; let's ask some
experienced dancers if they'd like to donate a dance to our
cause – if they're not interested, they can always say no.
that we had tapped into a bonanza of talent! It seemed that
many dancers were hungry for places to perform before large
audiences, and word got around town, down the Peninsula, (and
eventually, even further) that we were organizing a dinner show
as a fundraiser and were looking for volunteer dancers.
of the dancers who volunteered appeared to care for what, precisely,
we were raising funds. So many volunteers quickly surfaced
that I had to search for a much larger venue than I had originally
from the Meraklithes Band, said that his brother, Ike
Rekus, was organizing a Greek club in a large building
a former school) down on the waterfront of Berkeley, and it would
be ready soon. He suggested that Ike might like to use our dinner
show function as a kickoff for his new endeavor. We asked Ike,
who was a cook, and he liked our idea. Ike gathered his kitchen
workers (pictured here in their unhappy mode) to cook and serve
a dinner for our event. We produced a simple menu to keep the
price reasonable, and Ike took care of everything else.
Ike Rekus' enthusiastic kitchen crew
Gene Rosa works on lighting backstage
We set the
price for the tickets, printed them up ourselves, and in no
time at all, nearly 400 tickets had been sold.
We had not even arranged our show, or even engaged our complete
talent lineup and our event became a sellout!
been part of many shows previously, and so had I, but neither
of us had much experience in actually producing one. I guess
it was inevitable that our inexperience would put the cart before
the horse (but our so-called "horse" was more like
an over laden donkey—top-heavy with volunteer dancers, great
hopes, and imagination!) Unexpectedly, our friends and students
began to step forward offering their expertise to help us produce
our show. We already had a lighting expert, a professional
photographer, a mistress of ceremonies, and our chef.
vendors recognized our event as an opportunity to sell their wares,
and so we made vendor spaces available in the hallways of the
facility, which by the way, Ike had named The Helmet Club.
(I believe the name referred to the classical Greek helmet.).
Angilly and her assistant
A Classical Greek helmet
suggested that we should hold a raffle during the intermission.
Perhaps the large raffle cage that we saw backstage when we
were looking at the facility for the first time placed the idea
into our minds. At any rate, we asked a few business owners
on Solano if they would like to contribute to our fundraiser,
and surprisingly, most of them contributed valuable gift items
for our raffle in exchange for a credit in our printed program.
One of our
dancers, and a vendor, Natica
Angilly, also helped to emcee our show and help us
conduct the raffle. Our young friend, Perrin Kliot,
turned the wheel and chose the winning tickets. I handed out
the gifts to all the lucky winners.
Perrin Kliot picks winners as
Natica watches Najia awards raffle prize
the first dancers to volunteer were Kathryn Rabanne, Khadija,
a dancer with tattoos (highly unusual in that era), and my friend
Rhea, who now
lives in Greece.
displays her first tatoos
time we had all become pals, and Rhea put me up to many antics
involving Bellydance, including traipsing along the sidewalks
of downtown Oakland, California, in full dance regalia, to the
Oakland Tribune building, where Tribune photographers snapped
our pictures and free publicity soon appeared in the newspaper.
How embarrassing! Still, I would have to admit that it paid
volunteered to dance with her troupe, and they performed a sword
routine as well as a drum rhythm number.
As I mentioned
to you in part one
of this article, Ike was forced to close the Helmet Club
after our show, because two things went wrong, involving our
event. The first thing that happened was that all the tickets
were gone before the event began by at least a week or more;
yet, when the grand day arrived, easily double the number of
people who held tickets for the event appeared at our door,
ready to enjoy the evening and dressed for the event! We had
to turn them away, and this created great deal of anger, because
they had planned to meet friends there, bring their dates, and
that our show was in Berkeley, most of the guests and those
who had hoped to attend the show without having bought tickets
in advance had made efforts to dress quite elaborately.
the ticket-less people were truly "all dressed up, with no
place to go." They began to fight among themselves, and
with our staff in the lobby, and our lobby staff became alarmed
-- and they called the police. The Berkeley police had dealt
with a great number of civil disturbances near the University
in the ‘60s and their usual tactic was to set up police barriers
first. So, up went the police barriers around our event!
Rhea and her troupe drumming
and tension filled the air as our show began, but the coup
de grace that finished off our venue was delivered later…
and I'll tell you what misfortune happened in part three as
I show you pictures of our performers and celebrities!
Who Died and Made
You Queen of Dance?
lack of background basic performing experience would be unheard
of and un-tolerated in any other dance form.
Dancing Inside Out
state of Oriental Dance in America, as it is most often seen today
in festivals and restaurants, is at a crossroads of change from
which there will be no way to return.
Advice from a Temporal
related disputes become overpowering
We weren't the Beat Generation,
we were the Belly Generation
Doing it my way
me, dance is not cerebral, but highly emotional.
3-30-06 Interview with Magdy
el-Leisy by Lynette
gave me freedom to create my own style. I didn't go to folklore
school as a child so I have more freedom to express my own style.
The Bellydance Superstars
Show In Perspective by Miles Copeland
are many factors to balance, and ANY show can be improved. The
point is to also know the limitations that one faces in doing
all the things one would like to do.