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The long Alf Leila Wa Leila Post

If you are in Sharm el Sheikh, then I absolutely heartily recommend the Alf Leila Wa Leila experience! And it really is an experience- it's like an Arabian Nights theme park. It's amazing!

You approach it driving past a Fantasia shopping mall? Arcade? (Neither of those is the right word, but I can't find the right word) A big row of shops and stalls, all topped with beautifully ornate onion dome turrets.

Alf Leila itself is a huge complex. As I walked in, there was a walkway with Scenes of Rural Egypt on either side. One side was sheep, the other side was water-wheels, I felt like I'd just walked into Naima Akef's Corn Cob Dance! For some reason, the sheep were blue. The photos don't show how blue they were.

Then you walk through a hallway decorated with scenes from Aladdin (I suppose it should be Ala al Din) and the Genie of the Lamp. That takes you through to the courtyard where the Oriental Show takes place. There are plenty of food stalls, presumably for those who aren't bothering with the restaurant. There are also gift shops and stalls- it really is a very commercial venture! And then through to another hallway decorated with scenes from Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, which will take you through to the second courtyard, where you see the History Show, and the Horses & Acrobats Show, and the Folklore dances. But more of those later... There are plenty of things to have yourself photographed in front of- statues, wooden camels and so on. There's also a small “museum” showing replica artifacts of historical importance.

The Ali Baba hallway is also where you enter the restaurant. The restaurant is Moroccan, and it's beautiful. It's also huge! When I arrived it was still fairly early and not so busy. I was on my own, but the food they brought me would have fed four or five people. I was so sorry that I was sending so much away untouched!

Once the dinner was finished it was on to the Sound & Light show. I was in the English language viewing room, there weren't many of us in it, although the Russian language viewing room looked pretty packed. The viewing rooms and the open air viewing areas look onto a large arena, with replicas of the Sphinx, Abu Simbel, Temple of Isis, etc etc, with commentary. As soon as the History show is done, it's time for the Horse Show, with the horses doing formation work and riders doing acrobatics. It also included Sa'aidi Dancing Horses, which always seems cruel, to me. There was also a comedic donkey with a small person in a clown outfit attempting to do acrobatics and failing to general laughter. Finally random camels came on.

After the horses, there was a brief dance show, showcasing specific folkloric styles, Sa'aidi, Fellahi, Alexandrian and so on. The girls seemed ok, but the boys were definitely a bit ropey!

And after the dancing (this is still just the first show!) there was the dancing Fountain show. It made me think of Versailles, and Handel's water music, even though I know nothing at all about the history of fountains as entertainment.

Then it was time to traipse back to the first courtyard, for the Oriental Dance Show. This started off with a female soloist. She was lovely, very expressive and cute and she worked the stage really well. The stage is a raised platform, with audience seats all around, so the dancers are working in the round. I was lucky to get a seat pretty near the stage. The dancer was wearing a cute gold costume. And you know that rule about not wearing your watch on stage? Turns out it's more a sort of guideline, a suggestion really... She was wearing a great big black chunky watch! She danced for about 25, 30 minutes, maybe longer. Lovely dancer! She had really strong technique, and she was also really expressive and cute.

Then it was Tannoura time. You *know* you have to pay for the bellydance goodness, by sitting through Tannoura. Four Tannouras at the same time. FOUR!!! I did notice that one of them was the boy who'd done the tannoura at the hotel the other night. It was quite interesting actually, because the four of them weren't strictly choreographed (I'm not sure that would even be possible), but they obviously had an agreed road-map, because they all did the same sort of thing at the same sort of time. So they all started off with the frame drum thingies, first four, then five, then six, all changing at approximately the same time. And (I know, I'm expressing surprise again at being interested by Tannoura!) it was interesting to see how they all did different holding patterns for the drums. Then it was the headscarf part, then the whoohoo!!! Light Up Tannoura. It appears that while all light up tannouras are equal, some are more equal than others. A couple of them only had lights on the main working skirt, but the other two had lights on their bib tops, too. Then it was skirt up above head, and go out and work the crowd time.

Then the girls came on in big thobe-like cover-ups, doing a sort of Zaar-ish type dance, while men with giant flags waved them about at us. It was very exciting! At that point I realised that one of the girl dancers was the bellydancer from the other night at the hotel too! She was the tiniest one, and she wasn't wearing high heels this time! She was also considerably more animated than the last time I'd seen her! The cover-ups were a sort of long poncho but thobe-shaped, and with a hood... A very easily copyable design. The tannoura boys came back for a final whirl, giving the girls time to whip off the cover ups and come back on in cute little trouser suit costumes in black red & white, to do a couple of group numbers. This included the soloist from the beginning of the show. The choreography was good, but was not adapted to performing in the round, so only a quarter of the audience got the full benefit of the dance.

Then Miro came on, he being the replacement for Tito, whose gig this was until he became world famous and in demand across the globe. Miro is NO Tito. He don't got the technique, he don't got the charisma, he don't got the looks. I'm not a particular fan of Tito's, but I can tell he's an expert dancer. Miro is very much a poor facsimile, I'm afraid. He uses his arms and legs a lot, but I couldn't see much in the way of hip or torso technique, which is pretty much what you need for Oriental dance.

He did a bit with the girls ensemble, then a solo, then the girl soloist came on to do a duet with him. She'd definitely worked the most all night- her opening solo was way longer than his, and she was doing the group work, and now this duet. The duet was all "acting out the story of the song". That was the first video clip I posted the other day.

Then Miro did a drum solo on a tabla. I don't generally like drum solos, so you need to be pretty damn good for me to enjoy them. He wasn't. I was bored witless. Drum solos are all about technique, and as I said, he hasn't got the technique to make it work. That was my second clip.

Then it was the Yee Har Cowboy Dance! With big cowboy hats. And terrible saggy fringed trousers for the girls- as I recall the boys got to wear nice tight jeans- that's got to be sex discrimination!

My taxi was booked for 12.30, and just as I was leaving, there was a snake charmer on the stage. I was kind of glad I left, because it really just looked like tormenting the snake.

So there you go. I do recommend it as a great evening's entertainment. I did it as a specific Excursion, which cost me £30. Actually it ended up costing me £40 because nobody else booked it for that night, so I was covering the driver and host myself. Actually, it cost me £50 because you pay for your drinks and you can't take any food or drink in with you. But honestly it doesn't need to be that much. I bet you could book it and just go for the shows not the meal. That seems to be what a lot of people had done.

And that's my last Sharm post :-(. I'm sad to be leaving the sun and the fun, but it's good to be home and I have lots of good stuff lined up in the next couple of months.



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 31st, 2012 12:08 pm (UTC)
That sounds fantastic!
Aug. 31st, 2012 12:29 pm (UTC)
How fabulous!

I think you can go for just the show. Smiley and her man have been and they are skint as skint. It was a treat, obviously, but they wouldn't have been spending 50 quid apiece.
Aug. 31st, 2012 03:54 pm (UTC)
Sounds fab. I want to go.
Aug. 31st, 2012 06:44 pm (UTC)
You would love the cheesiness of it all!
Aug. 31st, 2012 09:27 pm (UTC)
thanks for the review! hope to go someday..

Sep. 1st, 2012 01:05 am (UTC)
I would also like to point out that Miro has a giant head.
Sep. 1st, 2012 02:13 am (UTC)
And he's short. Which may be why his head looks so big.
Sep. 1st, 2012 05:51 am (UTC)
Tito is also short, about 5'6 or 7 I believe, but he's nicely proportioned and has a pleasant though not "OMG dancer" physique and overall look. I often think that's probably part of his acceptance. He's not girly, he's not flamboyantly macho; he seems to be just this side of camp either way. I've always thought he looks like a nice looking, genetically fortunate labourer.

Miro also appears to have OTTly shaped brows, which might be due to all those threading people hanging about. Perhaps he succumbs to their advances when there are no tourists about.
Sep. 1st, 2012 08:02 am (UTC)
Hmm, I would have said Tito's taller than that. I'm 5'7" and I'd have put him as 2, maybe 3 inches taller than me.
Sep. 1st, 2012 02:04 pm (UTC)
Could be. I'm basing it on a post that Tinah made ages ago where I'm pretty sure she said he was about 5'7, and Flower who has just come back from studying with him described him as "quite short" (of course her husband is over six foot, but she is not tall) and when pressed for details agreed he was a bit shorter than me. I'm just on 5'8.
Sep. 1st, 2012 02:04 pm (UTC)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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