Gilded Serpent presents...

Serpent Tour 2011 Journal

Tour Map

London, Madrid and Marrakech!

Travel notes by Lynette

If you are new to this page, please start with the first entry at the bottom of the page.
LATEST UPDATES: added 7-23-11, “Shopping with Asmahan and Anna”- scroll down to June 7

June 18-19, 2011, London

Yes, its actually the 20th, and I am home, but let’s talk about yesterday and the night before. Anne White had a successful gig at the construction company’s party. She taught the guys a stick dance, and a good time was had by all. I left the house early just to make sure I got to Jo Wise’s “Hoochie Coochie Girls” show on time and had a great meal in another pub. I was allowed backstage and was able to talk with the performers on camera and get to know all of them a bit. Yes, that video is coming soon.

I loved this show! It was in a well equipped theater with professional lighting and comfy seats! The women were a bit shy at first because I was shoving my camera in their faces, but both they and I warmed up after a while. It was satisfying to see a show this tight and professional AND to have the women be such a variety of sizes, colors, shapes, and ages. There is hope! With enough rehearsals and good direction, our belly dance community can have quality presentations that we can be proud to show the general public. The shows don’t have to have young pretty women or be so compressed with fast moving changes and too many props to be entertaining for the world at large.

Sunday the 19th- going home!
Anne gave me a ride to the tube and insisted on carrying my horribly heavy luggage down the flights of stairs to the ticket counter. I still was having a hard time figuring out what all the diffferent coins were worth. You can’t sort them by size and have to read each coin to figure it out. They have way too many different ones! I am very grateful for Anne’s help. She is a star, and we know that we will now be friends forever.

When I made it to the airport, the flight was delayed by a couple of hours. This was an extremely long day. After being awake for over 24 hours, I finally made it to bed.

I woke up at 6 am today and had to get up because I was wide awake. I tied up my tomato plants and grapevines, thinned the fruit on the apple tree, and watered my garden. Then I took care of all the chickens and ducks, held my cats and dog and then went back to bed beacuse I was tired already from jetlag. Now I have just spent an hour deleting spam emails and will now try to focus enough to return calls and get back to work on the magazine. Thanks to all of you who have followed my journey. I have many more videos to add to this page and perhaps a few more observations as my brain processes all the wonderful experiences. I’ll try to be a little more profound after I’ve had another anti-jet lag nap!

June 17, 2011, London

7:30 am– I awakened, thinking about a few issues: First, there are similarities between how Soroya Hilal and Carolena Nericcio have separated themselves and their styles from the mainstream community of belly dance. Both seemed to be reacting against the dalah or playful nature of Middle Eastern dance. Probably, others have already thought this through.

Second, "Maestro" Yassir Jamal from the Meditterean Delight fest in Marrakech contacted me on Facebook last night wanting to know when his interview would be posted and what I thought of his performance. He has also expressed interest in advertising on Gilded Serpent. Oh! the sneaky influence of money… Those of you who know me well enough know that I have a peeve about not allowing the integrityof the magazine content to be compromised by commercial influences. ARGH! It makes me over-react in rebellious ways. I am proud to say that I have also found in our community that we are all independent thinkers and don’t just take on someone else’s opinions. An advertiser recently requested to have someone review their products that I know won’t like it. They say that a negative review stimulates more sales than a positive one!

(Back to the "Maestro")- Jamal, the sounds you produced from the drum seemed adequate enough. I am not a drummer, but your behavior and your ego need some work! After witnessing your attitude with the contestants and hearing your interview, I enjoyed very much watching Asmahan give you and each of your band members a lesson on stage. You are young (25?). Keep your pride in check, and let’s see how much of a "Maestro" you are in 10 years! Oh yes, information regarding advertising on Gilded Serpent is linked on almost every page under "Advertising Opportunities" or "Ad Guide" or just call me. More later after I’ve given it more thought. (Gees, I just need some big sponsors so I don’t have to think about the bills!)

Third, the movie-set feeling of London has worn off now that I have had some sleep and have been around town a bit- I still love it, nonetheless!

Later this same day: It was wonderful to meet the famous Anne White at last. She is bubbly and mystic and just fun to be around. We chatted, drank PG Tips tea, ate McVities dark chocolate bickies (cookies) and then went out to a local hafla to get a taste of the local dance scene. I will post a video from last night below. Yes, this is out of order, but this video and the one I just posted below of Ilhaam’s class in Madrid were easy to finish and post. I fly home tomorrow, and then I will be able to go back more easily and organize all the other videos in between. Anne has left for a complicated gig that she had scheduled before she knew I was coming. I have my directions on how to find the bus, take the train, and meet her at Jo Wise’s show back towards the middle of London.

June 16, 2011, London, Rain

Ah! Privacy! As much as I have loved everyone that I have met, it is wonderful to have a few hours to myself. Even at home this is rare. I have tried to have minimal impact on the local floura and fauna of wherever I have been staying on this trip. Now, I can catch up on various grooming tasks that feel luxurious after having been delayed for so long. The expense of a real hotel makes me feel a bit guilty, but I know this is silly. Staying in the homes of each of these generous hosts has given me a valuable view into each of their lives, and I am truly grateful. I hope I will have time when I get home to process, reflect, and record all that I have seen. I know that I will probably have to dive in and try to catch up with the stack of work waiting for me when I get home.

Just yesterday morning, in Madrid, Ilhaam was making me a traditional Spanish breakfast of chopped fresh tomatoes, ham (They pronounce it- "jam"!) and raw garlic. This is eaten on toast made by crisping in a frying pan- all eaten together- cut up bite by bite with a knife and fork instead of picking it up with your hands.

Ilhaam (and also Ahmed, the jolly tour guide of Marrakech -not the sexist one I wrote about earlier) have tried to teach me about their philosophy of how to relax and live in the moment. Don’t worry about yesterday or tomorrow but "be here now". How will I get all this video processed and posted all on my own? I still have a mountain of video from the Long Beach contest from February to do! No one else knows where everything is in my files and the plan I have for each project. One thing that has been reassuring to see is that those individuals with a more of an overview on our community such as Nesma and Asmahan can readily see the value of Gilded Serpent. I know there are many others that do too, but how do I keep the projects rolling and also seek the financial support I need to keep going? Okay, this is not living in the present; back to today.

My perfect hotel room and my privacy has been invaded with falling bits of sheetrock and the noise of construction overhead. Maybe I should venture forth to a museum. No, I want to cocoon this morning! So much for being in the moment!

Later today– I just completed a taxi tour of 11 clubs sites from the glory days of the late ’70s and early ’80s in London with Asmahan narrating history and telling anecdotes from her days performing in each of these clubs. She included the names of many famous musicians and dancers including Mona Said and Mona’s rise from dancer #6 on the rosters on up to number one! These clips will be another series that hopefully will inspire a whole new section of history on the site. With clubs and their live Arabic music dying around the globe, it will be increasingly important to document what it was like to be in the middle of such stimulating times.

Tomorrow I transiton to the home of Anne White. I will be recharged and ready for another burst of love and inspiration.

June 15, 2011, Transition from Madrid to London

I am sitting in the airport, waiting for my flight. Should I write when I am cranky? Probably not. Let’s see if I can write myself out of it. Yes, I’m grungy and wrinkled and have a halo of frizzy hair around my head. However, soon I will be out of the humidity and hopefully, into cooler London. This flight will take me south of London to Gatwick. I will take a train from Gatwick Airport to Victoria Station into the center of London. Then, I’ll need a taxi to go to a questionable hotel which is all I could find on the Internet, and afford, at the last minute. Then I will then meet Asmahan of London (and North Beach, not of Cairo and Argentina).

I’d like to mention the amazing Flamenco jazz concert last night, Spanish ice cream (chocolate and pistachio) and Ilhaam’s lovely class. That’s it for now. I’ve got to get horizontal even if it’s on this dirty airport floor.

Later this same day– I almost slept through my boarding call! AND I was at the wrong gate! There are so many airports in London that I picked the wrong line on the flight board. The weather did change; it’s still humid but cooler and overcast. Something about England makes me feel like I’m in a movie. I caught the express train to Victoria Station. The green landscape whizzing by, overcast skies and quaint houses remind me of Harry Potter or any number of cute-attack movies. Once you start getting into town, the brick factories and warehouses start looking like darker movies. Catching one of these retro taxis now feels like I am in a spy movie or maybe the Beatles’ "Hard Days Night".

I was worried for nothing about this hotel. I am on the forth floor; the windows actually do open. There are no suicide prevention gates though there is a grate, preventing you from shimmying over on the window ledge to your neighbor’s room, or maybe, more importantly, preventing anyone from coming into mine. But, then if I’m a spy I have to sneak in somewhere. There is a closet that I can hide in and those windows across the street could have enemy spies in them. ….but then Mary Poppins and Dick Van Dyke would get them for me on those rooftops with the cool chimneys. Okay, maybe I need to take a nap. It feels like I’m on an adventure just being in this room. I can see an inviting restaurant across the street next door to an Internet cafe. I can’t get Asmahan to pick up her phone, but I am happy here and could meet her tomorrow. This could be the place to make me take an actual break and chill out.

June 14, 2011 Madrid

What a trip this has been! You wouldn’t believe where I am sitting right now! I am in Nesma‘s studio, listening to Ali Khattab and his band rehearsing for their coming concert this weekend here and in Cordoba and for Raks Madrid next month. Let me back up…

Ilhaam, who I connected with through Ling and Mark Bell, met me at the airport gate holding a big sign with my name on it. It made me feel very important. We dragged my now heavy luggage through the subway, changing lines 3 times and finally making it to her beautiful apartment. She lives in an attic studio with a lovely terrace over looking the city. I took a much needed shower, and then we were off to meet Crystal Silmi and Ilhaam’s friend, Mariana Briones D’Almeida, for dinner in a vegan restaurant in the center of Madrid. Mariana was dragging her bag as she had just returned from a gig Switzerland singing African and Brazilian. Crystal has been in Madrid for only a couple of months and is doing her best to network and get established here in Spain.

Ilhaam has been a wonderful host and has helped me through the language barrier. We connected with Nesma and will meet with her in the Plaza Majora. Crystal had to leave very soon after dinner so she could catch a bus back to her house. I should have offered to get her a taxi home so we could visit more. After dinner we walked around the neighborhood trying to find WiFi for me so that I could update this page and find a flight from here back to London. We ran into many of Ilhaam’s friends, hanging out at the outdoor cafes. I see now why it may be hard to connect with the average dancer and artist in Spain. The lifestyle of this artistic community does not yet include the Internet. Plus, they do a lot of hanging out in cafes. They do Facebook and use the Internet cafes. If you are paying in 15 minute blocks to sit in well used booths on unfamiliar computers, Gilded Serpent is probably not in your bookmarks or on your list to read. I do have a plan to make this easier! More on that in the future!

OK, back the present. After meeting with Nesma in the plaza, she invited us back to the rehearsal. Finally meeting Nesma’s husband Eric, was wonderful after communicating with him for years only by email. After this rehearsal, I am hoping to get brief interviews with each musician. Ali Khattab’s band will be touring soon in the US and Canada so they may be willing to give me their time to help promote the tour.

June 13, 2011, Marrakech Airport

Did you know that Asmahan has been living in Florida for the last year? She flies to Cairo for her contracts but lives with her new husband of one year and her six little dogs in Tampa, Florida. She is eager to be connected to the dance community, so expect to see her a lot on Gilded Serpent!

I tried hard to get as many video interviews with as many people from the different countries as possible, but, alas, I could only do so much… I have promises from many to participate so we should have an even more international community represented on GS very soon.

The excursion yesterday (Sunday) included a visit to a palace, tombs of unknown people from a dynasty of rulers that I should remember. The guide who took us was trying to be funny but seemed to be constantly using women as the butt of his jokes. For instance, he talked about the mosque top with the 3 copper balls and then there is a wooden hoist visible that he said was for hanging disobedient wives. Some of us were getting really irritated at him and we were hanging further and further back from the group because he was just making us angry. Asmahan did not like that they were using the graves as a tourist attraction. People were walking on the tiled tops of tombs to pose for pictures. Turtles and cats lived in the enclosed area, basking in the shade. Back in the bus, I spoke with the guide about his offensive jokes. He insisted that he was trying to tell us how fair Islam is to women. I pointed out to him that his jokes were a different matter and that perhaps he should just switch the genders in his jokes to see how funny they are to him. He stopped the joking but took us to another LONG pharmacy demonstration with the heavy sell. Things such as kohl for your eyes or the Berber version of viagra. This was very frustrating as most of the women just sat there, trying to be polite. It was nice and cool in there. Once they get you to put stuff in your shopping basket, they have you trapped to listen to much more of their propoganda. This was our last official day in Marrakech and I still had not been to the main square! My stupid temper is harder to control when I am tired. I tried to get the guide to stop this show and move on! We finally did so. The guide had now switched from entertainer to thinly veiled arrogance. At the square, I had to split off from our usual smaller groups and go exchange money. I ended up spending the afternoon shopping by myself, which was more efficient for me anyway. I missed the meeting time and the ride back to the hotel because my iphone time was wrong, and I think the vendors I asked misunderstood the questions I was asking. No matter, I was able to get a ride back to the hotel for 20 durhams, which is roughly 2 dollars. When I got back the hotel I found out that they were all worried about me. Oops, sorry guys!

There should be an algorithm for bargaining. They ask for one number, you ask for one forth of that (I was told this, but it didn’t seem to work that way for me, it was more like half), if they say this, you say that, etc… There are definitely certain rules that the vendors expect you to use. It was so hot, and I was tired and cranky. Some of the vendors could see that and went eaiser on me, but there were many times when I just got mad and left a place that had something I really wanted. Reflecting later, I realized that the offer they gave me was much cheaper than what I could get in the US. Most of the shops just had the same t-shirts, knick knacks and caftans presented in different ways. I must say the Moroccan men are mostly polite and don’t automatically assume that you are like a woman on Desperate Housewives or some other TV show. Even among the more pushy salemen with the bad teeth there always seemed to be one young man that was repsectful and spoke fluent English and seemed pleased to be able to talk to you like a friend about various subjects that had nothing to do with their wares.

I bought beautiful dyes from one Berber man who didn’t want to be recorded at all. He said it was because. he said it was because he was Berber. He didn’t even want his voice recorded. I was trying to use my video camera to take notes, pointing it low. He caught that it was on and brought me a pen and paper without saying another word while the camera was on. He also wouldn’t tell me the real name that is used by his own people. I could only remember that it started with a “T”. (We have a musical instrument tour video here on the site that gives that info. I just couldn’t remember it, and he wouldn’t talk about it.)

For a while, I talked to one young man among the snake charmers. I had already paid him half of what he was asking and he had taken video of me holding one of his snakes. I was disturbed at first to see that the snake I was holding had fluid dripping from his mouth and tail, but then, I found that they dip the snakes in water to keep them cool. So the snake wasn’t sick or peeing on me. He said that they do breed them now and don’t catch them from the wild. There were many kinds of vipers and cobras. I am told they don’t abuse them and milk the venom glands for medicine etc. It was hard to see the men carrying the snakes around like a coil of rope without any regard as to whether they were scaring the snake or being too rough.

The monkeys look resigned to their jobs and lack dignity in their little outfits. You have to stand far away and use the zoom on your camera if you don’t want to be harrassed to pay for the shot. I saw the stereotype photo ops repeatedly of the white man in cargo shorts and hat with the monkey on his shoulder. I hope the monkeys are treated well at home.

The Cobra Waterfall at Fantasia in Marrakech

The cobra waterfall at Fantasia in Marrakech

Last night we attended "Fantasia" a disneyesque presentation of some of the cultures in Morocco. I think I missed the first part because I was talking with Asmahan so much. First, you walk through a movie set like environment of Moroccan architectual elements exaggerated and condenced into the relatively small campus. They had a cobra waterfall! Obviously, I didn’t see anything close to that anywhere else. The dancers spend a lot of time on each excursion, posing, posturing, and taking pictures of each other in the many opportune Arabic environments. Asmahan seems to enjoy taking the photos as much as posing. I was flattered to be in many of her photos, as she coached me to do this and that.

We started our visit there by wandering through display windows with manikins in the native dress from various areas. Next we sat in a huge fancy tent as local folk musicians played for us. The food was excellent, and then the show in the nearby horse arena began. Several horsemen would charge toward the audience and at the last second they would fire the rifles, making loud noises and big flashes of whatever. I don’t think real bullets would be quite so flashy. We also saw a parade of people in various folk garb, camels, horses, and probably more that I’ll try to show on video.

On the way home I talked with the pleasant bus driver Osama (not the killer one he said) about how I had a hard time finding a full face veil in the market. I wanted to try seeing what it was like to have to wear one of those around in public. How do people interact with you? Anyway, he told me that the full face veil is not part of Moroccan culture, but imported from the east. Of course! Oh well, I have to risk appearing ignorant to learn enough to dispell sterotypes.

Will I come back to this festival? I don’t know or if I would even be invited again. I have enough material to talk about it for a year. I would like to bring my family next time, but I would have to figure out how to turn off my workoholic nature or I would not be able to handle the additional responsibility of caring for them.

Now I am sitting in the Moroccan airport waiting for my flight to be announced. I will walk through the Moroccan air one more time to climb the stairs into the plane.

Lynette bonds with a Berber chicken

June 11, 2011, Marrakech, Ourika Valley

Today, we took an excursion to the Berber villages. (I need to find the real PC term for Berber- Tamazight? This term may just refer to a specific tribe.) The terrain reminded me of the San Gabriel mountains around Los Angeles with square mud houses making villages stacked up the hillsides. The men are quite obnoxious, trying to push you to buy their necklaces. I did buy one. This pushy sales tactic reminds me of the beaches in Baja, Mexico. Ahmed, our guide, took us to a village house where we could sit and relax. Then he showed us the Berber tea making ritual. The women brought us freshly baked bread that we dipped in their homemade olive oil from the trees above our heads. I asked them to show me the grinder for making the olive oil. It’s quite heavy and not easy to keep turning. Katalin, my new friend from Hungary, was busy taking pictures with one of my cameras. She took a took a picture of me holding a Berber chicken! The hen spoke the same language as mine at home! We had a great conversation. (It dawned on me that this WordPress blogware lets me post photos without having to do all the prepping in a graphics program like I usually like to do.) I could live in this family’s house! This house, like many, has gardens fed by the river below, grapes on trellises above our heads, vegetable gardens and fruit groves on terraces along the river. My knees are too bad to use their porcelain squat toilet, though. I forgot to bring my Lego toys for the children! They would have been so much fun for me to give to them!

Asmahan of Argentina & Cairo with Berber Sellers

The shy children of this household.

Berber Grinder

The grinder used for making olive oil

June 10, 2011, Marrakech

Today I am focusing on collecting video interviews with the various performers. Both Madrid videos are now posted on this page. Please check them out and let me know if you have any problems. I understand that many participants are going home today. There is a “closing” show tonight with the participants. If I understand correctly, there are tours this weekend and then Sunday night is a special night showing different styles of Morroccan dance in another venue besides this festival.

Asmahan's belly

Notice the snake ring!

Asmahan stands on a chair to pose next to the very tall Noor

Katalin Schafer

The Russians

Anna, Natali Becker and her daughter

June 9, 2011, Essawira

Well, we had a very long drive today! Essaouira (Essawira)– I remember now why I don’t like traveling in tour groups; it takes forever to make transitions and decisions. We stopped to see the women’s collective make oil from the nuts of the local trees. This, of course, turned into a sales demonstration. This was a very cute bunch of women. More on video coming! To get everyone back on the bus after a stop takes a long time. I did get a picture with a baby goat and camels!

By the time we arrived in Essawira, had lunch, and walked through the Portugese fort, we only had 45 minutes to see the souk before we had to get back on the bus to head back to Marrakech for dinner.

On the bus

The show last night was interesting. There were several stops in the music from some sort of sound system problem. I will have a video soon, I hope.The contest continued with the 9 women each doing drum solos to Maestro Jamal. He did a different drum solo for each. I’m not sure they were consistent enough to really be fair. I’m so glad I declined being a judge! My ears were in pain from the loud music, but then I remembered my earplugs I had brought for the plane. They definitely helped!

June 8, 2011

Beautiful show tonight! It is interesting to see such a new group of people compete. Russians, Japanese, Aurora from Edmonton, and an interesting dancer from Kazakstan. Asmahan came out in 3 different costumes. Lovely show! She smears an incredible amount of glitter all over her body. I also saw her teaching today. She is very caring and demands that the students listen to her, the music, and project as she has requested. She is a good teacher! I came back to the class at the end and most of the students had wet hair and were sprawled out on their backs. The range of levels of the students in class is very wide. Too bad there aren’t more people here to appreciate this lovely place. Tito isn’t coming, something about the visa again. He just taught in Stockholm and will teach in Spain next week. I interviewed Sharon (the producer’s daughter and an organizer) about it today on video. She said something about Morocco wanting the passport 5 days before the event. A lovely lady from Mozambique also had difficulties with getting here due to visa issues. Natalie Becker of Russia also danced. She is an older dancer. I liked her a lot. She danced to music that reminded me of the Pink Panther. Her daughter was in the competition. Simona asked me to judge, but I declined. I wouldn’t be able to take video clips or cover the event from a more objective opinion. I also wouldn’t be able to sit still that long. Tomorrow I plan to take the day trip to the coast.

I must rush off now and witness the meeting of the contestants. More soon!

June 7, 2011

I am having a very Moroccan day! I just had breakfast with Simona, Sharon, and her administration staff. They kindly interpreted much of their talk that was in Hebrew for me and then they needed to rush off to prepare for the arrival of the participants this evening. Before they left, Asmahan of Argentina joined our table, and I was able to begin getting to know this fascinating and genuine woman. More soon. I will just make another rough list and will try to fill out the details later.

After initially declining, I joined Asmahan and my roommate, Anna Borisova of Russia, for a traditional hammam here at the hotel. I was salted and scrubbed and then was able to bond with both these women in the pool.

I went shopping in town with Asmahan and Anna. Of course, Ali our taxi driver, took us to a big shop where I’m sure he would have received a kickback if we had bought anything. The prices were okay, but I know they could have been better. I think I’ll get a few items later in the week for my family. Then, we had a lovely lunch on the street cooked by handsome young men in soccer shirts. I had bruchettas of lamb and liver- yum! Asmahan insisted on paying; such a gracious woman! The taxi driver stopped and made us go to a “Berber pharmacy demonstration”. HA! Okay, now here is a Moroccan cliche I can believe in now. I have a hard time not resenting this sales manipulation. Asmahan insisted this was traditional and began to spend a bit of money in this place! More later.

This video is our lastest update (7-23-11)

Tonight Simona has arranged a special event. Last Sunday, she went to a traditional zikr(?) There is a different term for it here. She arranged for the group to come and perform the ritual here as part of the welcoming event for the participants. This should start soon; so I am out of here!

June 6, 2011

I made it to Ryad Mogador Agdal in Marrakech, the resort where the festival is being held. After all the stories I had heard about arriving in Morocco, I thought I would be mobbed by opportunists wanting to be my guide. Not so! Maybe I’m just foolish for believing. I was fishing around in my luggage, trying to find the head scarf I thought I had stashed in there for this moment. I gave up and went outside to find the atmosphere perfectly calm with breezes and flowers that reminded me of Hawaii. A polite man, holding a poster promoting the fest with Simona in bedla, guided me to a clean van. Many women are wearing head scarves, but they don’t cover their hairline. You can also see their hair in the back. Cool! I can relax about that at least! I made it to my room, took an unintentional cold shower (They will fix that.), found they have wired Internet access in the room and Wifi in the reception area. Simona came by to say hello with her beautiful daughter and a couple of friends. I am now feasting from the buffet and updating this page from my iPad. I’ll go back to the room and maybe I can finally get the three waiting videos posted! Thanks so much to those readers who are hanging in there with me! Maybe I should try and to get the big names interviewed early in the week! I still need to fill in about my day in Madrid and Morgana’s show. WOW!

Well in desperation, I uploaded a very smaller file version of this next video. Its very grainy but I couldn’t upload a larger version from here. I’ll try a larger version now too.

June 5, belated

Ok, just a bit about Madrid for now, I’m still processing. I will just put a couple of hints here for now so I don’t forget. Then hopefully I can add the details soon.

–Cute old con man at the airport: A cute and kind looking old man walked up to me and told me that he saw me asking for help at information and that I was now looking lost. In his broken English he offered to help me and suggested that I take the metro instead of the bus. Somewhere in his speech he said something about 8 euros. I didn’t realize that he was looking for payment until he started leading me back inside the airport towards the metro. I stopped and kindly refused. I finally just took a taxi to Morgana’s theater. I’m glad I did. With all my luggage, it would have been difficult to do all the walking and changes I would have needed to do to get there by bus or metro.

–FANCY “student show” with major lighting, smoke machines, video clips from various vampire movies behind dancers. The multimedia was too distracting from the dancers at times, but VERY entertaining. Morgana’s boyfriend is a voice actor on tv, announcing the movies. He has a sexy deep Latin macho rumbly voice. Both her parents are there, actively supporting and helping set up the show. Her mom, Maria, is obviously a dancer also. Over a hundred students were in the show from the school– hers and the other teachers at her school. Around 900 people were in the audience.

–Generous, polite, and interesting “couch” hosts this night- Paolo and Carlos- are part of Morgana’s Excalibar Troupe which includes martial artists. These guys are close friends. They went to China last year to study with the monks that represent their particular brand of martial arts– “Wooshoo”? The monks beat them when they made mistakes. They own a comic book store together called El Mondo-Arana! (spider monkey!). – Yes go ahead and go to their site and help me run their traffic stats up! Thanks!

–Remember that stupid pitcher and basin set I bought in Brighton, dragging it around and begging Easy Jet not to charge me for it as extra baggage? Paolo and Carlos are going to ship it home for me- Yay! Thanks guys!

June 4, late

Made it to Brighton after a couple of video interviews with Hossam Ramzy in his fancy mixing studio. I didn’t get a chance to get his wife Serena on video! Maybe I can catch her on the rebound before I fly home. Hossam tried to be very nice to me this morning after being such a bully over dinner last night. He is very opinionated, but he has a good heart. Like Miles Copeland, I just have to hold my own with him. So much video to catch up on! Does anyone want to review Hossam’s Scientology video?

Galit had to wait a long time for me and missed the tribal dancers who were performing at the street carnival here in Brighton. I would have loved to record it too! Oh well, I did grab lots of colorful video to collage and will post as soon as I have a moment to breathe. Brighton reminds me of Santa Cruz, although it has pebble beaches instead of sand. I enjoyed visiting with Galit. She showed me videos of her entertaining comedy performances. I think she would be worthwhile for someone(s) to sponsor in a tour. It’s interesting how comedians can be very deep in their analysis of daily life. I will post interviews with her also. Her serene, thoughtful expression changed immediately as soon as I turned the camera on! I will probably have time to edit and post once I get to Madrid tomorrow. I will have to waste time somewhere lugging my bags until Morgana’s show in the evening. I bought an old enameled French pitcher and basin today. I need to figure out how to mail it home. Its lovely! Hopefully, I can get this done at the airport tomorrow.

June 4, 12:39 am, East Grinstead

I am staying at the Ramzy’s house, Serena, Hossam, and Amir tonight. I spent dinner arguing with Hossam about heated issues, neither of us budging an inch. Great food from Bangladesh not Indian. They seem to have a tropical twist! Earlier in the day, Hossam made an amazing lunch! I thought I was going to just get meat and potatoes in England! He really is a very good cook!

Serena and Hossam's Dancers

The dancer's names need to go here.

Amir enjoyed the Legos I brought him. I love being able to be a kid with kids. I had no idea I was talking baby talk to him but the video really threw that back in my face. Sorry Amir! I witnessed part of a rehearsal for the Ramzys’ coming show,”Dance Queens of the Nile”. The dancers were precise and technical. I thought I had such a great clip of the Ramzy dancers introducing themselves and telling me about what they do. It has been lost and I can’t hide the operator error. Oh well, the moment is over. Wonderful sweet dancers are everywhere! I am figuring out iMovie on this new machine, my apple laptop. I am supposed to meet Galit tomorrow in Brighton. She has instructional DVDs reviewed on Gilded Serpent; look it up. She should be a hoot! I didn’t get a chance to call and confirm our visit tomorrow so she may now be busy. Brighton is on the beach along the south coast pretty island. If not, I could go back to London and haul my luggage all over trying to see stuff or find an inn near Gatwick airport and chill out and make videos. I fly out on Sunday morning to Madrid. It is about 12 minutes long and is of dear Charlotte telling me about the history of the current dance community in the London area.

Okay- I collected a short list of “Cockney Rhyming Slang” -Hossam Ramzy helped me with this. This is for ANTHONY, my bookkeeper, who first introduced this to me. Look it up on Wikipedia! Anthony, yes you already taught me a few of these. I think they are fun.

  • Cream crackered = nackers = tired, such as “I am just cream crackered!”
  • Chinese dentist = tooth hurty = 2:30, such as “Meet me at Chinese dentist.”
  • Whistle and Flute = suit, such as “I’ll wear a whistle and flute.”
  • Trouble ‘n strife = wife, such as “Gotta meet my trouble and strife”
  • Dog and bone = telephone
  • Frog and toad = road
  • Apple and pears = stairs

June 3, 2011 (I think!)

Made it to Hossam’s house. Hossam Ramzy’s has a rockin’ new CD that the community will love! I am going to the troupes rehearsal in a few minutes. So many stories to tell!

June, 2, 2011, Kent, UK

I am currently in Charlotte’s 6 pm class in Tunbridge Wells, south of London. She has a class full of enthusiastic beginners. The intermediate class starts soon. I boarded my flight yesterday at 12:30 pm, lost 10 hours along the way, and landed at 7am. I have enjoyed visiting with Charlotte and her husband, Paul, today. Charlotte has a beautiful house and flowering garden in Kent. We left early for class so she could show me a few ancient quaint villages. She says that each village has a pub, church, and cricket green. We also saw a couple of castles or palaces along the way.

11:30pm local time. Great pub food! I ate some sort of stingray like fish, Skate(?) with seaweed, potatoes, local beer, coffee, and truffles, all in a 1600s Tudor house with beams, stone, and plaster. We talked of politics, including the English parlimentary system, Obama, war, and Palin.

Onward to Serena, Hossam, and Amir Ramzy’s house tomorrow!


May 31, 2011 22:13- still in Sleepy Hollow, California

Must get to bed! Tomorrow, I’ll be missing a night of sleep with the flight and change of time zones. At 9am I will be catching the bus to the airport and will begin my journey! After landing in the Heathrow Airport and catching the shuttle to Gatwick Airport, I will meet Charlotte and we will head to her favorite pub to have dinner with her husband! I think I have more techno toys packed than clothes!

use the comment box

Have a comment? Use or comment section at the bottom of this page or Send us a letter!
Check the “Letters to the Editor” for other possible viewpoints! Ready for more?

  • The Ramzy Tour of 2003
    Photos from:Brazil, Brisbane, MaryBorough, Wellington, London, Singapore and Tibet?
  • Workshop in Perth, Australia-Hossam & Serena Ramzy’s International Tour
    Hossam’s presentation requires the student to listen – and I mean LISTEN.
  • Nesma, Dancer of Passion
    To manage the orchestra is quite complicated. They are all men and the dancer must always keep her distance from them. You have to use the service of a manager who is the intermediary between you and the other persons involved in the business. It is very important to have a good manager, a good professional and good person as well. And it is not so easy to find, I can tell you.
  • Morgana’s Animal Magnetism, Interview with Morgana of Madrid
    After seeing Morgana’s Serpent Dance, where she embodies the personality of the serpent, I was hooked. Any snake lovers or snake dancers will have a special appreciation for this piece.
  • The Soltice Festival, Belly Dance in Spain- Part 2, held June 23-26, 2006. Part Two- The Evening Show, Event organized by Maria Cresswell of Tribal Girona at Sanctuari Els Arcs, Girona, Spain. A medieval hostelry with a chapel, set in the beautiful volcanic natural park of La Garrotxa near the picturesque village of Santa Pau.
  • The Soltice Festival, Belly Dance in Spain- Part 1,
    held June 23-26, 2006. Part One- Workshops and Setting, Event organized by Maria Cresswell of Tribal Girona at Sanctuari Els Arcs, Girona, Spain. A medieval hostelry with a chapel, set in the beautiful volcanic natural park of La Garrotxa near the picturesque village of Santa Pau.
  • My Adventure Begins!
    At last, another North Beach Memory! “I was creating my life as an adventure, I was making my own destiny; this was Kismet!”
  • The London Belly Beat!
    They have nothing against tribal or fusion styles and seem to enjoy all belly dance.
  • Our London Scene: A Guide, Clubs, Events, and Resources
    Hi to all our state-side friends over “The Pond” and elsewhere! For those intending to visit London, I thought you would like a “What’s on in London?” guide to spice up any intended visit–whether now or future.
  • A Very British Kind of Bellydance
    This incongruity is something that characterizes the English bellydance scene. Many of our festivals are held in historic sites, such as castles or ancient towns, and we are used to the surprising sound of Arabic music floating across an English lawn.
  • Festival Fantasia: A New Direction
    I had a vision of the whole dance scene becoming one and being aware of one another.
  • Moroccan Dreams: My New Festival in Marrakech
    There is a mixture of faces in one region. There are so many different cultures that live in harmony –in the same place– that it is difficult to remain indifferent.
  1. Barbara Grant

    Jun 3, 2011 - 07:06:41

    So very impressed by all this! Just went through Charlotte’s interview…great! Keep up the good work!

  2. Barbara Grant

    Jun 4, 2011 - 02:06:41

    Dear Lynette, somebody may have already noted this on FB, but I just can’t get to this page directly from GS. I receive an Error, “Page not Found.” The only way I can presently get to your travel blog is directly from your FB link. In any case, have a great journey and blessings, B.

  3. admin

    Jun 4, 2011 - 04:06:50

    ok the link is updated now, but i will need to move the entire page to a whole new page that wont keep updating the url everytime I add an entry on a new day. Thanks for letting me know!

  4. Sausan

    Jun 6, 2011 - 02:06:17

    WOW!  Great to read about your journey!!!

  5. Yasmin Henkesh

    Jun 6, 2011 - 11:06:51

    This is great fun to follow you around! Can’t wait for the images from Morocco 🙂

  6. Mish Mish

    Jun 7, 2011 - 01:06:50

    Hi Lynette….Looks like you’re having a great time and wish I were there with you!  Just a quickie here, for some reason couldn’t access the video that said UK-Brighton-Galit. Kept saying Private Video????              Also wondering when you mentioned Asmahan in Morrocco with you, is that our Asmahan from London or another?  Mish

  7. admin

    Jun 7, 2011 - 02:06:53

    Thanks Mish! I flipped the switch. The Youtube uploader seems to  be set on private by default now, I have to remember to uncheck the box every time. I’ll go fix the Asmahan confusion too. Yes– two different Asmahans. I need to link the London Asmahan’s name to her bio page. I don’t have one for the Lovely Argnetina Asmahan! I see London’s Lovely Asmahan next week. Yes, this is confusing!

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.