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Gilded Serpent presents...
Easter in Cairo
by Peppina

I started oriental dance in 1991 thinking that it might fun; little did I realize how wrapped up I would become in bellydance. Three years and all the possible dance classes later I was ready to take my first trip to Cairo. A Danish drummer Lars-Bo Kujahn organized the trip for a group of Scandinavian drummers and dancers. That was it pretty much; ever since I have needed my yearly dose of Egypt. Of course there sometimes are other things in life; however, this Easter I celebrated my tenth time in Cairo.

Although Easter is a Christian holiday turned out everyone was out of town. Cairo felt quite empty, actually.

Easter Monday was a family picnic day for everyone. No work was done and not everybody returned to work after the holiday.

How reassuring it is to go back time after time and see that certain things are just the same – like the pyramids and Dina. Of course, with the latter a few changes have been made in the course of time but you can trust her to be Dina.

The first time I ever saw her in the Cairo Sheraton, one of her outfits was a simple red dress with just a couple of rhinestone buttons as a decoration. No other dancer could have gotten by with such a simple costume.

The dress was tight and kept creeping up and she had to pull it down every couple of minutes. I was irritated. Wouldn't you think that such a star could afford dresses that fit properly when she moves? Well, I was obviously young and naive. I now understand that the point of the dress was just that. Come to think of it that is one of the things that has changed: these days there isn't really that much to pull down anymore, is there?

With all this carrying on I'm just trying to summon enough nerve to say that I skipped her this time. I always want to do something that I haven't done before and this qualifies. It felt strange at first but I survived and it gave me one more reason to go again. Dina is performing in the Semiramis Intercontinental on Thursdays.

For the past years Randa Kamel has been my absolute favorite dancer. She was now dancing at the Marriot Night Club as well as the Nile Maxim boat.

She is so strong and powerful and beautiful and intense. Even the not-so-stylish costumes she used to wear didn't take anything away from her.

Of course she is now dressed by Eman Zaki, so that department is very well taken care of.

Local men in the near-by table didn't seem to care too much for Randa, preferring Dina and Nancy. They said that Randa was too muscular. I didn't take that very well and dreamed of saying to them "Dancing is hard work with your muscles, you nitwits" but, being the coward that I am, I ended up saying "oh, I quite like her". Wonderful as Randa is, there is a difference in seeing her first show of the night opposed to the last. I recommend the first.

Asmahan was also performing at the Nile Maxim. Her other venue is the Mena House. She, too, is a very strong dancer and a great entertainer, but to me feeling is lacking from her dancing.

I had never been to the Cairo Opera before so it was time to go. And what did they have to offer? A week of Finnish music.

So I went and listened to the créme de la créme of Finnish classical musicians at the Cairo Opera. What an extraordinary experience! As the Cairones were out of town, most probably including the person responsible for advertising, it was mainly the Finnish community of Cairo that attended.

The opera has a very nice and relaxed atmosphere. I quite recommend it if you need a break from the dance hassle.

One more recommendation: the restaurant Abu el Sid in Zamalek. They advertise serving traditional Egyptian home cooked meals and the meals are good.

Late in the evening they were playing the same loud techno music no one in the world wants to listen to. But where else can you ask for a change of music and get old Andalucian songs, the ones originally written for the Reda Troupe?  Try this place!

Ashmahan of Argentina and her drummer at the Mena House in Giza


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