Tag Archives: dance

I’m Just Trying to Sweat On Some Strangers

Last night I was the proud and only occasionally unwilling participant of a house party that lasted until the sun came up. This was not an American house party, where you crank up the music in someone’s apartment and stand uncomfortably close to one another for two hours tops before you realize it is the worst thing in the world and then escape. This house party was a public party with “house” music at a club-like location somewhere near the pyramids.

I know that we were somewhere near the pyramids because I saw one as we were driving back in the early dawn. I also saw the sun itself, a fluorescent red disk rising over the Nile. And then I went home, saw I had no notifications on facebook, and went to bed. All in all it was a fun, enriching, and eye-bulging experience. Here’s an advertisement.

Saqqara Oasis: Where There Are No Worries Because Your Sweat Will Put Out the Molotov Cocktail Flames

Hey you! Yeah you with the “One Tequila, Two Tequila, Three Tequila, Dance floor” shirt!

Tired of squeezing into your tightest threads on Monday nights and then having nowhere to go? Do you yearn for a place where the music will make your heart feel like it’s about to explode, where the beat itself picks up you and throws you down in endless mini-earthquakes? Do you find perfect hearing a burden? If you have ever experienced these sentiments or eaten food, then Saqqara Oasis is your destination! You’ll always remember your bomb night at Saqqara tearing up the dance floor with your sick moves and hair product because your hearing will be permanently damaged and your brain seared with images of Egyptian youth like you’ve never wanted to see them before.

When was the last time you sweated so much you created a natural pattern of salt stains on your jeans and then sold them the next day at twice their original cost as haute couture?  Can’t remember? That means it’s been too long! Saqqara Oasis is your only solution. After you sweat your brains out, strip down to your boxers and cannon ball into the pool! Then climb out of the pool and GO CRAZY again! Be the dripping youth full of life that you have always wanted to be.

Are you incapable of experiencing “fun” on account of your extreme coolness? Do you get tremors thinking about your hair moving? Did you wear heels that came with a handicapped sticker? Saqqara is still the place for you! There are numerous locations at your disposal from which you can project an air of mind-blowing awesomeness while doing nothing except for staring at other people with a blank expression or bobbing your head. If desired, there is a short posing workshop before the party begins where you can learn all the latest hand, arm, and leg positions so you can put off the vibe you’ve always known you were capable of.

Have you ever felt like your hands, arms, and heart are actually a different being trying to flee from the rest of your body? Do they flail around wildly and cause your abdomen to move in an inhuman fashion to the eardrum bursting beat? Have you ever wiled out so hard that your body couldn’t handle itself? Have you ever become a music nymph in the heat of the moment? Come to Saqqara! Find your flailing friends and throw your flesh encasement around like it’s something you won’t need tomorrow!

Are you trying to inhale as much smoke as possible in an outdoor setting? Forget sheesha and come to Saqqara, where one could read by the light of the glowing cigarette butts if they weren’t too busy being AWESOME. Let us convince you that there is no better place to partake of second hand goodness. Don’t think you’re a good dancer? Our quasi-non-stop strobe policy will make whatever movements you are capable of producing seem out of this world, and just when you are getting used to making a fool out of yourself, we will flood the entire dance area with yellow light and reveal you sweat soaked youth for what you really are before returning the safety of pulsing darkness.

Saqqara Oasis: You will lose control, sweat, stay out for longer than you wanted to, go through an endless cycle of despairing of departure and then catching a second wind, and discover the heights of who you can be.

This means you too, cookie monster t-shirt.

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Why yes, there is a puppet horse

When someone said they were going to go to the circus tonight, I ditched my plan of watching The Aviator alone and got

I'll put a real pic up when I get it. Imagine this big enough for two men.

myself in a taxi, more than ready to terrify screaming children along with the clowns. We never made it to the circus, however, somehow missing the big top and going to another venue close by that houses the National Folk Dance Troupe. Since anything with folk dance is bound to be a good time, our night ended up being well worth the entrance fee and initial confusion.

The show promptly began forty minutes late, but it made up for the initial annoyance by being incredibly long. Most of the evening consisted of crowded dance numbers with gaudy costumes covered in more sequins and tassels than you could shake a stick at, the ladies swiveling their hips like they were trying to get a rabid beaver to release their right buttocks and the men sometimes shaking actual sticks. The dances were certainly not authentic Egyptian, but they won first place in Drevets’ book for use of agricultural props, such as water jugs and sieves. The award in unnatural costume design went to the number right before intermission for its use of neon orange and green spandex in the ladies’ costumes, using it in a style boldly combining eighties aerobic wear, sixties bell bottoms, and mermaid themes.

The highlight of the night, however, by general consensus with myself, was the horsey puppet dance. The black horse puppet wore a loosely crocheted, neon colored harness and reign apparatus that contrasted nicely with the slick of green and sequins the woman donned from her head to her toe. I do not know of any Egyptian tradition in which women flirt with life size horse puppets or real horses, but apparently the ritual is quite extensive and quite real. The horse (two men in a horse costume) was by far the stand out performer of the night, nuzzling its snout and prancing its paws with incredible humorous dexterity, outshining the woman who also pranced about and slapped the ground with a stick. And then the night got awesome.

The black horse descended into the sparsely populated auditorium and bothered people, pretending to bite people’s shoulders and giving girls kisses on the cheek, something especially loved by the older ladies who expressed their pleasure by wagging their fingers at the horse and trying to shove it away. One lucky girl even got pulled up to the front of the room and was forced to dance with the horse. She was a good sport about it, though not as good of a dancer as the horse.

Though I caught myself saying “Is this still going? Ah yes, it is,” a number of times after zoning back in during yet another belly dance (though they certainly were impressive the first fifty times), long after everything had sunk into a haze of bright colors and amateurish dancing, it was still a quite enjoyable night. I really wish the whole thing had been done with puppets though. I also wish I had my camera…must steal pictures from friend.

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Dear Diary: I flew today

Dear Diary,

I found myself somewhere new today. It was in Cairo I think, since everyone there still spoke Arabic and no one was wearing shorts or kissing in the street. I also saw some young men holding hands, another indication I was in the Middle East.

We entered what someone said was an old house but I think it was actually a castle since it was big and musty and had a windy staircase with uneven steps. There were a lot of locked doors too, as well as nooks and crannies, so it was definitely a castle.

The big feasting hall/courtyard was filled with chairs and dim light, and at the front was a kind of wooden plateau that was smaller than natural plateaus. There weren’t any chairs on the wooden plateau, probably because it is well known that wood does not go well with wood.

I gathered we were supposed to sit down, but it was hard to find a place because of all the chairs. Someone then thought it would be a good idea to sit on the chairs themselves so that’s what we did. I had a bad feeling about this idea, and was especially nervous since the guy in front of us kept peering behind him out of the corner of his eye. Every single time he saw us, he was surprised that there were people sitting on the chairs, despite his own chair sitting hypocrisy. I suggested that we move somewhere out of the way of the chairs but no one listened to me.

All of the sudden, the lights in the courtyard dimmed and music began from the front of the room, where the plateau was still lit up. Something had definitely gone wrong…how were we supposed to be able to see and talk to each other through the darkness over the music? Were we in a no-holds-barred modern protestant church service? But then musicians wearing white and carrying drums took the plateau (possibly the ghosts of the castle musicians) and I lost all consciousness of time and space.

The next thing I knew, I was smiling as we were exiting the building, the faint din of clapping still ringing in my ear. To my great surprise, I found I was carrying my camera and that the button on it was still warm. I turned it on to gather clues as to what had transpired and found I had taken tons of horrible pictures and videos of what may have been beautiful things. The ghosts on the stage had twirled and played the drums, floating and rocking back and forth, and then others took the stage that wore fantastic costumes of all colors, the most important part of it being a Christmas tree skirt that flew straight out from the dancers’ waists. And the dancers became a swirling mass of colors that was always striving upwards with their hands and with their bodies. It’s not clear why…maybe they were trying to communicate with a higher being, and that being was someone who lived upstairs that loved jazzercise in the mornings and they were politely pleading with them to stop.

If the quality of the video had been just a little better, maybe I would be able to remember what I felt when I was watching the dancers twirl and twirl and twirl, their faces bordering on rapture but still conscious of the audience, the movement of their skirts mesmerizing every eye. But I can’t, so from what I can gather, blobs took the plateau and bounced across it in a rhythmic but imprecise manner. Though it sounds unlikely, apparently this was what we expected since everyone was happy afterwards.

I was getting into a taxi when I remembered something and shut the door instead. I stepped away and started spinning around gradually faster until I slowly became airborne, the exhaust fumes from the traffic on the highway pushing me higher and higher. I called down, “Smell you later!” as the polluted air pushed me home.  It had only the faintest traces of teargas.

By the way, this was at a Tanoura performance, the Egyptian version of a dervish dance/ritual that is closely associated with Sufism, or mystical Islam. Sufism focuses on seeing the face of God or achieving unity with God.

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This day is our day

Yesterday was the 4th of July, America’s main national holiday and the date on which the Second Continental Congress unanimously adapted the Declaration of Independence, announcing the colonies’ separation from Great Britain. I happened to be out of the country, but I could still smell the patriotism roasting from across the pond.

In celebration of America, I partook of my first McDonald’s food since I’ve been here: a chocolate sundae that cost roughly 99 cents. I had no regrets and I have a feeling I’ll be frequenting the McDonald’s 100 yards from my house slightly more often now that I’ve tasted the simplicity and reliability of soft serve ice cream and chocolate syrup. In addition, I and some fellow students sang patriotic songs like Born in the U.S.A. and God Bless America before another failed lecture on security that did more to anger and confuse than assure anyone. Later on that evening I savored some non-local beverages as well as non-local pork ribs grilled to perfection while singing more songs, campfire style, without the campfire. The night ended appropriately with tribal dancing on a carpet wall from a bedouin tent in southern Iraq.

One of my favorite moments of the day, however, was when I and 2 other CASA students were sitting on the shaded lawn inside the campus of AUC Tahrir having a boy scout/hippie dippy moment while singing “Such Great Heights” by Iron and Wine. Less than 200 yards away from us, on the other side of the wall, lay Tahrir square, the locus of current unrest complete with sit-in tents, non stop traffic, and general pedestrian mayhem. The two worlds could not have been more different, though it might not be impossible to mix them.

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Here’s to vomit

Turns out there’s actually quite a bit of homework involved in this “fellowship” thing. I feel like I’ve spend most of the last 2 days plowing through the Yacoubian Building and I still have more work for tomorrow. Will it never end? Answer: most certainly not. But I’m not complaining.

After being stifled in my apartment all day aside from a misadventure to the grocery store that was characterized by paranoia, confusion, and congestion, I road a boat on the Nile for a little bit and then ended up having a fairly pleasant but perhaps not that interesting of a night with other human beings. We ended up at the Cairo Jazz Club and a really neat band, Station, was playing so we enjoyed moving to the rhythm for a spell before peacing. The band was a fusion of all kinds of styles and I could definitely feel a Sufi inclination in it…the beat in some of the songs felt like trance music and I wanted to let my hair down and float away.

But the story that I want to tell involves vomit and is from a few weeks ago. When we were still newly arrived to Doqqi, roommate and I were walking along one of the main streets and all of the sudden we saw a man that was ralphing up a storm right outside of a pharmacy. It was in the middle of the day and we weren’t sure what exactly was wrong with him, but out of nowhere he just started hurling almost directly in front of us into a drain. It was very strange. No one took notice, or maybe everyone turned a blind eye. I wish I could have done so.

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