Fifty belly dance students from Mexico, Scotland, Russia, Japan, Germany, Latin America, USA, and more were thrown an opening night party for attending Diva Randa Kamel’s week long workshop. We first enjoyed a a cold drink in a champagne flute at the Barcelo Pyramid Hotel Ballroom where we’d be studying all week. A welcome was given by Irish Event Coordinator and dancer, Sara Farouk, who is a seriously straightforward, efficient, reliable, and knowledgable gal. Then, we boarded a chartered bus to the Nile River where we were treated to an evening of non stop entertainment upon the Nile River Maxim, which, in my opinion, was worth the entire price of tuition to this course.

As we descended the stairs to the cruise ship dock we found ourselves passing through a surprise welcome committee of at least 10 happy drummers drumming including riq, doumbek, and other drums I don’t know the names of, and 2 merry mizmar playing along either side of the dock. We were all smiles.

BTW:  I am up to three live Mizmar since landing in Egypt and I only hoped to hear one. Sometimes, you get what you want. I am currently rolling in it.

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the welcoming committee

Once on the dock but still at the top of the gangway,  at least one male dancer, maybe more, was working with Tahtib (stick),  the old traditional Egyptian folk dance that belly dancers learn about so they can appreciate and perform Cane/Assaya, the female counter dance to Tahtib.

As we watched all this fabulous sound and movement unfold, the musicians in their desert-deflecting white robes pulled us into dancing. One of the Mizmar players, every few minutes, would point his horn skyward and just begin wildly swing it side to side as he played. It was Rock and Roll Mizmar and clearly called everyone to get into the mood to have a great night.

Before we knew it, a circle line dance lead by one of the guys ensued while other drummers pulled dancers into the center to dance. Some gals were shy to dance with “the real thing” but eventually, everyone stopped worrying and jumped in to feel the joy, and excitement. Even among the by standers, smiles and happiness were clear to see on each moonlit face in our Nile-side party. Kanina danced for a long time in the center group and the circle. I loved taking pics of all this and I wondered if this music and dance jamm was just for us or does every Nile Cruise get this dockside, pre-ship party? I’ll look into that. It was an unforgettable start to the night.

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Then, still drumming and playing, the musicians led us and our happy party to the reception area of the cruise ship where a few sufi dancers came out of no place and began dancing for us. What a fabulous plan this was by whomever arranged it. After the sufi guys did a bit of spinning for us, they invited a few of us to do some spinning and head shaking moves. These moves are traditionally enjoyed as a way to get rid of any djinn- bad moods, tough times, evils spirits, taxes, hang nails, etc. I jumped in and my mood, which was not bad, was indeed better after moving around. Our Irish event coordinator, Sarah, must have felt really good bc she shook her hair/head in circles with serious intention exactly on the beat as the drummers sped up and up and up and up and then, bam! She stopped exactly when the band did. Everyone clapped and we were ready to cruise.

IMG_0972As we made our way onto the ship, people jockeyed for good seats. My seat was not good but I am not above standing on a chair or moving to an odd spot when the show comes on which is what a did. As one show after another took the night away in record time, I was wherever I needed to be to see it all.

If you have a minute. I’d love to share, the rest of this night with you. A HUGE surprise started the on-ship entertainment portion of the evening. I could not believe it and Kanina almost had a heart attack (those are her words).  Cruise on to Nile my post “Cruise 2” if you want to read about it.

Wish you all were here. Thank you for your love. And, again, I am safe, so far, and have had no trouble.

Love, Aurel