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So, farewell then, Arabesque Nights

I went to the last ever Arabesque Nights Showcase last night. It's the first time I've had any dealings with the bellydance world in ages. I did enjoy it and it was really nice to see some of the London crowd.

I have realised on reading my notes back that I haven't named many names. That's partly because I didn't actually know a lot of the names. I'm so out of the loop.

There was Baladi. Quite a lot of Baladi. Mostly not very good. But I absolutely loved Jennie's taqsim progression which, to me, really had the spirit of Baladi. It fair warmed the cockles of my heart. The others didn't have the soul and they particularly pissed me off by wearing bedla rather than a galabeya, when there's really no excuse. Also there seemed to be a basic lack of knowledge of the meaning of the song they were dancing to. But then Lorna as the star dancer of the evening did an absolutely cracking Shik Shak Shok in her first set so I felt a lot better. She was saying it's far and away the most requested song she danced to in Egypt. And people online are so sniffy about it being “done to death”!

There was a Turkish dancer, Candan, and she did a lovely piece. I don't know enough about Turkish, to know exactly what it was but it had the traditional 7/8 rhythm and even I could recognise the Gypsy folklore elements. She had a sweetness about her which I really liked. Also I had skirt envy. It was a really pretty black lace/ed sequin affair. Another dancer I really enjoyed was Soraya, I can't remember what music she danced to but it was pleasingly traditional and she danced it with love. She was also wearing a glorious pale pink costume which made me want to wear pale pink, even though I know it would kill me stone dead.

There were two shaabi performances and I liked them both, but they could not have been more different. The first one was from an inexperienced dancer who seemed to have all the right components but somehow they weren't stringing together correctly. It looked like she was dancing somebody else's choreography. Her moves didn’t quite flow from one into another, but I really like that she was doing proper mahragani moves and was dressed in the right way with grungy t-shirt and sneakers. The second was a much more accomplished dancer, more polished and elegant in her dancing, but that allowed her to give the piece more “abandon”..

Of course, there were a few tribal, or at least tribal inspired numbers. Sorry I don't really remember much about them. You don't really want to hear my views on tribal anyway.

One thing that I found very irritating, and quite a lot of the dancers did this, was to stick a blooming drum solo on the end of every piece. It's not compulsory, people! If you pick a nice piece of music why don't you just finish when the music ends?

Being Arabesque Nights, there were a few off the wall numbers. Ishtar did Charleston to music from Bugsy Malone. Actually that was really fun and brilliantly well done. Infinity (dance troupe) did a routine in Mrs Santa outfits and gold leggings. There were a couple of burlesque routines.

And then there was the Donald and Melania routine from Lou and Itsumi. That is going to live on in our collective memory for a very long time. I've seen many comedy bellydance routines in my time and this is the one that's made me laugh the most. Lou was disturbingly good at playing Trump. I really hope that it gets onto YouTube somehow.

Lorna closed the show with some fab saaidi stick, dressed in her Santa costume, all red sequins and white fur, with a Santa hat at a jaunty angle. I do love her stickwork, it's just so damned Egyptian.

Now I’m very sad that Arabesque Nights is gone. It’s had a bloody brilliant 6½ years. I’ve always enjoyed it, as a performer and as a punter. We’re all hoping that Natalie & Jennie won’t be giving up on events completely, but that they have a nice rest from it for now - it’s well earned - and maybe come back to it some time in the future. Well, we can all hope!

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