The Gilded Serpent presents...
Live Music and Me:
The Third Sunday at
El Morocco

Photos and story provided by Faridha
Written by Najia Marlyz

If you are relatively new to dance, or simply have not have the inclination to dance in a situation where live music is provided for you, you will find it challenging to apply your dance skills and your knowledge of entertainment to the strains of live music!

Live musicians, whether hot or just luke warm, always confront the dancer with a set of variables.

The unexpected can range from musical arrangements that are different from what one might expect because it was different in a recording, to a surprise drum solo, to the rapport between the dancer and the musicians, or the chemistry between the musicians themselves on any given occasion. 

On December 21, 2003, I had the delightful experience of dancing to the music of Light Rain at the El Morocco Restaurant in Pleasant Hill, California.  The owner, Mr. Fadil Shaheen, sponsors a variety of

Light Rain
Russ Gauthier on guitar, Doug Adams on the violin,
Mark Bell on the tabla

live musicians playing for several volunteer dancers on the third Sunday of each month.  The able hand of Yasmine of the Troupe "Sirens In Sanity" organizes these evenings at the El Morocco.

Light Rain played three selections for me, as planned, from a play list of their recorded repertoire that had been provided so that dancers would have a chance to become familiar with their style and their arrangements.  Each dancer chose two selections from the play list and the musicians chose a third.  I chose "Kings Road" and "Amber".

Here I am, dancing my entrance dance near a table of people, some of whom were the dance students of Jizan from the South Bay of San Francisco.  I imagine that she had encouraged a field trip to the El Morocco in order to entice some of her own students to try their skills with the live music at a later date.

I study dance with a group taught by Sharifa in Pleasant Hill and also take private coaching with Najia Marlyz in Bay Point.

I seem to have lost any butterflies I may have had at the outset of my presentation.

I am wearing a costume of seafoam green with white iris iridescent sparkles; it is very feminine and soft.

In a restaurant setting, dancers learn very quickly that the audience divides its attention between watching the entertainment and their dinner plates.  The experience is quite different from dancing a solo on a stage with a formal audience facing the stage! Actually, sometimes it is a challenge of the dancer's personal charisma to see how long she can keep audience members away from their food.

I chose to play my larger finger cymbals for this event.

Even at these semi-amateur nights, audience members like to tip some of the dancers though we don't expect it.  Below you will see some dollar bills that have fallen near my feet as I dance.

When you dance in a restaurant, you have to be very aware of your surroundings at all times.

Dancers need to be careful because the waiters and waitresses are serving hot food even while we dancers perform.  They move quickly, so it is wise to look back before moving into any space.

Even though the evening started at 7:30 with a full house of diners, by the time I danced, it was already 10:30: three hours of music and dance!  As I was introduced, the comment was made that all those who had remained for all that time were the dedicated, die-hard fans of Belly dance and of Light Rain's music in particular!

I hope to see you here, on some live music night soon!
Faridha of Danville, California

Have a comment? Send us a letter!
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for other possible viewpoints!

Ready for more?
more from Najia-

12-31-03 The New Year's Dance
Poetry by Najia
12-24-03 Dancing Inside Out
The 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.
10-28-03 Raks Assaya Instruction at Najia’s Studio
Demonstrated by Rawan El-Mouzayen (Arab-American, age 3)

2-16-04 Turkish Shop 'til you Drop by Justine Merrill
The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is the Mother of all shopping malls and covers over fifteen acres.

2-12-04 Hamam 5 by Kayla Summers
"Take me to a hamam," I begged. She took me to the Besiktas Hamam.

2-11-04 Sirat Al-Ghawazi, Part 1 by Edwina Nearing
Begun 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 worldwide.


 Gilded Serpent
 Cover page, Contents, Calendar Comics Bazaar About Us Letters to the Editor Ad Guidelines Submission Guidelines