Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Night at Haroun Ar-Rashid (29 Oct 2008)

I couldn't help myself. I love music as much as most people, more than some, and Arabic music more than your average whitey. The opening singers (all five of them, working together) weren't bad...in fact, they coulda been contenders on 'Arabian Idol,' if in fact they weren't already professionals (I don't really think they were, I recognized quite a few of their songs and knew they were covers...but then, I know that it's not uncommon for Arabic pop stars to do each other's songs over and over). Still, I couldn't help wondering if they were done yet. They'd been singing for almost two hours, which put it just before 1:30 a.m., and I had not LEFT my hotel at 11:30 - a time when, in Korea, if I weren't already in Seoul, you can bet your bippy I was not leaving Bundang, not even leaving the 'Dong, if you got right down to it - and shelled out to hear these guys. Mustafa, the waiter came and asked if I wanted my dessert, and I did - at least it would keep me awake til Dina took the stage. Just when I thought I couldn't take any more, they took their bows and left the stage. Humd'Allah! About 20 gut-wrenching minutes later (gut-wrenching because, apparently, Arabic food and I are not friends right now, something I've given a lot of thought to in the bathroom this morning), the curtains reopened to show the full musical contingent (22 pieces, in this case) that traditionally accompanies a dancer in Egypt. They played a song, and then Dina took the stage.
Dina is kind of a controversial dancer. The bras of her costumes are cut really low, some of her hemlines on her skirts are cut really high (the red costume she wore last night, my favorite, was one of those - she had to repeatedly pull it down to keep the pre-pubescent boys in the front from getting a peek of anything that might prematurely spin them into adolescence), and her dancing is not exactly the refined, complex artistry that some dancers pull off. Actually, sometimes it looks a little like she's stumbling around drunk.
However, I've never seen anyone else dance who looks like they're having quite so much fun! She gets on the stage, and it just seems like she's having a good time - an extremely athletic good time - and when someone projects that, you can't help but get caught up in it. Dina has such amazing facial expressions, and she uses her hands and arms really naturally and playfully to expand what the music is communicating. I just had to sit and watch her with twinges of envy, hoping that maybe I could dance with that much joie de vivre someday (and in that sort of wardrobe - man, her cossies made mine look like cheap trash...which by belly dancing standards, I guess it sort of is) and be able to show it that wholeheartedly.

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