is a famous chain of nightclubs in New York, Boston, and Florida owned
by Lou Walters. Lou Walters is the father of Barbara Walters.
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Starring: Leslie Caron, et al.
Director: Joshua Logan
A remake of Marcel Pagnol's
trilogy about the girlfriend of a sailor who finds herself
pregnant after he
returns to sea. She enters into a marriage of convenience with an
older man that matures into real love. Then, of course, the sailor
returns. This version is
lovingly photographed, beautifully scored, and contains a newsreel
attractions for 1961.
The Gilded Serpent Presents...
Dahlena at the
Delgado, and Walid Shahin
The North Beach Memories of
Middle Eastern dance first became popular
in the Boston and New York clubs. First in the ethnic communities, then
Americans, too, came out of curiosity stimulated by such things as the
play, "Fanny", featuring Nejla Atesh in NY.". You can find her listed in the San Francisco
phone book under "Artemis".
The Latin Quarter
started featuring Belly Dancing. The New York Latin Quarter and the
Variety clubs around America noticed what was happening in Paris. Then
Americans also joined in. The New England night clubs had variety shows
featuring bellydancers quite often. Also, in the Catskill Mountains
they had regular singers, bands and dancers.
Smart people opened places for the tourists; they knew Americans would
come. Greek towns sprang up (usually in run down areas with cheap rent).
even fix up the places, but people came anyway, even famous people!
One of the most run down places was the Egyptian Gardens in New York
City. The ethnic people as well as wealthy and famous people came there.
"The Kismet", a club in Chicago was run by a Jewish man with
a partner who was a woman with "The Gaslight Mailing List",
which represented a prominent group of people. It opened in a trendy
area, equivalent to North Beach in San Francisco. It was in the Rush
street area and catered to tourists mostly. It was very much the
same as it was in North Beach, before "topless/bottomless" clubs
What kind of people came to see
Middle Eastern dance; who was in the audience?
At least one quarter of the audience was college students from the Middle
East, other ethnic people, and some older people. The development of
entertaiment, and the people attracted to it, were similiar to that
in San Francisco.
The same thing happened in Chicago. In Chicago, Rush Street was like
North Beach. They had legitimate entertainment: jazz, Dixie, singers,
Vic Damone- type singers, as well as other famous singers and musicians,
such as the Ama Jamal Trio, (a Chicago jazz group which was touring
in San Francisco when I was there--just a few doors away)!
In San Francisco, the Middle Eastern scene started on Broadway. Italian
people opened the first venues; Italians wanted to attract the tourists.
At that time, North Beach was a tourist area--not a stripper area. It
hard to walk on the sidewalks in the summertime because they were so
filled with tourists. The topless/bottomless craze was just coming in
when I was leaving in 1965.
An agency in New York was looking for Middle Eastern dancers. They liked
us because we were young and thin, while most of the good dancers were
older and heavier. Princess Yasmina, and the Jamal twins worked in Europe
and New York. We worked out of the same New York agency; we worked together
in Chicago too.
I [Dahlena] came to San Francisco in 1962 from Los Angeles to work
at "12 Adler".
I went back to Southern California and gave birth to my son. From there,
I went to Las Vegas, then back to San Francisco where I
worked at "The Bagdad", then "Gigi's". I became
pregnant again, left once more to Oregon where my daughter was born.
I came back to Sam Francisco again and worked in "Gigi's".
In 1965, returned on to Chicago.
Before 1962, I worked in Hollywood, with Helena Kalinotis (she did wild
crazy things on stage). Jamila
saw both Helena and me in Hollywood. Jamila told Yousef,
who asked, "How could a blond know how to dance?" Bob
Mackey and his wife, Lulu,
came too. Lulu was a dancer and Bob Mackey got his start in costuming
by first designing Lulu's costumes. Lulu told Jamila that I "didn't
do anything on stage"! This was a compliment to my way of thinking,
since the Americans were all running around the stage, "over-dancing"!
We were a product of the Boston clubs. We worked in Hollywood at "The
Torch Club" and "The Grecian Gardens". They played Greek,
Turkish and Armeninan music there, until the Cypress war, when they
refused to play Turkish music anymore. Yousef brought us both to San
Francisco in 1962 to the "12 Adler".
In 1962, I worked at "12 Adler" and "Gigi's" for
about thirty-five American dollars per night. The only dancer around
now that was there then, on Broadway, before me was Jamila Salimpour.
There were other dancers, but they aren't around now, for example,
Perhaps Yousef opened "The
Bagdad" in 1963... I remember Fadil playing
on the stage there in 1964. Yousef got the musicians; his personality
changed when he became a club owner!
Before "The Bagdad", when he was only a musician at "12 Adler",
he played the violin on stage. He would stop the music and wag his
at me if I flirted with members of the audience!
Also there were Fadil, Vince
Delgado and Lemi Pasha.
Charles Shulltz (and his wife), who wrote the "Peanuts" cartoon
strip was another famous fellow that hung out in the Arabic clubs,
and that famous
pop-artist of the day who painted little girl faces with big eyes,
Walter Kean. Another lady who does artwork of dancers-Artemis
Clark (I think) --made paintings
of dancers; she would sketch while sitting on the balcony in "Gigi's
In 1964 Vince Delgado played at Gigi's and/or "The Bagdad Cabaret".
was a friend of Dahlena's, from Boston. Sophia and Dahlena were neighbors,
as were Jamila and Tahia, for a while upstairs at the New Rex Hotel. A
lot of the performers that worked at "Gigi's" and "Bagdad"
lived at different apartments in the New Rex Hotel, on Broadway. It was
just across the street, toward Casa Madrid, and kitty-corner from a strip
club. Below was a nice supper club. After moving out of the Rex Hotel
into a nice apartment in same building as Ronnie Kerby, the drummer, at
"The Bagdad", Ronnie's wife babysat for my children, even when
we performed at different clubs.
was a Jazz club, and it had a piano player who told jokes and sang. They
had many different entertainers touring though there. Performers on Broadway
would all visit each other. Some of the clubs, one Sunday per month, had
a breakfast show to which the entertainers came after working all night.
They would see each other perform. On Sunday nights, each club took turns
having a late show for us performers so we could see each other; they
called them "Breakfast Shows". They were held at "The Condor",
one at the Spanish club, one at the Arabic club, and so on.
Another person who got dancers started was Naji
Baba, the very first one, actually!
Jamila's student Carla still lives
in the Bay Area. Carla and I worked together at "Gigi's". Who
was it that came and danced on stage in her nurse's uniform? Fatima, the
had an electric personality on stage. She was a bit older, also from Boston,
she was Greek but setted in Boston and worked thru the agencies. Tabura
worked at "Gigi's", and Dorthea
("Kismet") from Chicago
worked through the agency at "Gigi's" too. Rema worked on the
weekend. We all learned a lot from the Algerian dancers too. They taught
us how to do more extensive floor work. We learned by watching them balancing
pots on their heads. All our sword routines came from watching those Algerian
girls balancing their pots! (The Cousins, Yasmin
were in a show together; one was crazier than the other; she once chased
Antoine through the club with a butcher knife! She was asked to leave.)
This was the first time I had seen people roll around on the floor with
stuff balanced on their heads; no help just their fuzzy heads!
a dancer who lived in Los Angeles, and I were in a show together in Las
Vegas. We were both pregnant at the same time when we worked at the Bagdad.
I was pregnant with my second child, Angelina. Antoinette is now the mother-in-law
of dancer Sulhaila Salimpour, Jamila's daughter.
at Costless Imports has lots of pictures from this era:
Aset (a Turkish dancer),
Imar, and Dorthet for
example. (Costless Imports is a well known bead and costume vendor on
University Avenue in Berkeley, California.)
Cabarets and clubs always had a doorman/bouncer, a body guard but no barkers
when I was there. The cover charge was about two dolloars at the door.
No one danced around the tables for tip money at "The 12 Addler"
or "Gigi's" or "The Bagdad" at the time I was there.
[Dahlena left in 1965.] When I returned, girls were making less in wages
and they were dancing around the tables for tips!
We had a union at "Gigi's" and "12 Adler" and in the
beginning, at "The Bagdad". In those days they used an agency.
At "Gigi's", most dancers were "on the circuit". There
were more dancers later and the clubs didn't need the agency or union
anymore. The pay dropped.
I really like working with the musicians at all three places I worked
in North Beach. The music was always good. I really enjoyed my time there
in North Beach!