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We were quite late leaving Hannan's and we were due at the Nile Maxim at 7pm. In theory our bus was due to take us to the hotel and then back out again to the Maxim, but the Cairo traffic was doing its damnedest to delay us. As we had to pass the Maxim on the way to the hotel, and we were passing it at about 6.45, we got off and said we'd wait for the rest of the group (the ones who hadn't needed a prova at Hannan's), while some ladies went off to the Marriott to get some money changed. While hanging about, I spotted that the Maxim is actually on Mohammed Abdel Wahab Street!

Mohammed Abdel Wahab Street

So we got there really rather early, and more scruffily than we'd planned. Thankfully I had makeup in my handbag, so I could do a bit of tittivating, but I was still wearing yoga pants and a loose shirt, so not really the dressiest person in the place!

The first warm up act was a singing duo, one of which was Ellie of London/Eshta of Saqarah! It was really good to see her doing her thing, and I'm thrilled for her that she's got a contract with the Maxim.

Ellie of London

Their playlist was mostly lounge-y. But there were a couple of Arabic songs. One of them was a debke, and I was waiting to see what the group of men in the corner would do. Seeing as there was no sign of them doing anything at all, evil_spice and I got up and got a small dabke going. It wasn't fancy, but it was functional, and it got some of her joining us. It was obviously looking fun enough for an Egyptian lady to join us. Unfortunately she joined at the head of the line, and she didn't know what she was doing, and couldn't copy, which was all a bit disconcerting.

Then it was Tannoura time. Honestly, I do believe that Tannoura is the price you pay for watching lovely bellydance! This one also lit up (hmmm, it's time the tannoura dancers decided on a new trick). I even video'd some of it, just a few seconds, for your delectation and delight.

But of course we were all there for Randa! She was happy to see us, and although she doesn't remember my name, she definitely does remember me. She did her first set in a nice golden costume, with lots of diamanté. She was in her usual dramatic form, very strong and powerful. In her second set, she was wearing a green trouser suit that didn't really do her any favours. She needs to find a better costumier! Or at least use a greater variety of costumiers, because it looked like the same designer for all three costumes. She asked us: sha'abi, or Oum Khalsoum? I did try for sha'abi AND Oum Khalsoum, but clearly there wasn't time for both, so Oum K it was. Not one that's known to me already. Her final set was Baladi, in a purple and orange (and who knew *that* colour combo would work?) dress. Randa had already warned us that she would make us dance Baladi with her, so we got up and danced with her...

Randa in Gold
Randa in Green
Randa in Purple

We went back to the hotel, and had a chance to change and make ourselves more presentable, before going out on our next appointment with Dance- Aziza at the Sunset. The Sunset is a fixed boat, it doesn't sail anywhere, and it's right by the Pharaon. It was more up-market feeling than the Unknown Nightclub, though I'm sure that's mostly a matter of my personal perception, and that there's not much real difference! We were sat in a good position, at the back but on a raised level (I know because I kept tripping over the step all night!). The staff were very attentive, to the extent of accompanying us from the table to the ladies loo, when it was necessary for any of us to visit it! I'm not sure what harm they thought might befall us...

When we arrived, there was a rather nondescript singer on. The second singer (and her band) were definitely more entertaining, and she was a great mover herself[*], and we got up on stage and had a good bop. I think she was happy to see us up there dancing.

The band handovers weren't quite as slick as at the Unknown Club. Maybe the management at the Sunset are more relaxed about these things. As with the Unknown Club, there was a *lot* of Gulf music being played, for the benefit of the Gulf customers. It was quite amusing watching them dancing, they had some *weird* styles! Unlike the Unknown Club, there was very little money-showering, until much later into the night, when it was the act before Aziza.

He was a singer in the proper Approved Egyptian Nightclub Style- shiny suit, long pointy shoes, and a substantial medallion! He sang Esmalla Aleik (Meya Meya) specially for us (the funny foreigners). And again there was a singer in the audience so we got a twofer. He was dressed all grunge-ily (is that a word? It is now) but he had a beautiful voice- he was giving us some lovely Ya Habibi-ing, but then it went all Gulf again! He only did the one number though, then it was back to Mr Sharp Suit. There were two outstanding things about his band- #1, a sagat player with no discernible personality, which was weird- my experience of sagat players is that they are all a bit crazy (some more crazy than others, yes Mr Dad Dancer Sagat Player at the Unknown Club, I'm looking at you). This one was positively bland. And #2, there was a Trombone player, which made me unaccountably happy! Happy enough to overlook the blandness of the sagat player. By now the money showers were going strong. This was obviously a popular singer (I believe he was called Osama Abdel Something). But all good things must come to an end, and leave room for more and different good things. In this case, AZIZA!

I was so looking forward to seeing Aziza live. I've watched her countless times on YT clips, and I love her style. She was gorgeous! She was wearing a spangly naked dress. Not one with a bit of cut-out with mesh, oh no, the whole costume was a fleshtone mesh catsuit, with super-sparkly bits all over it, including down the legs, and it had a white skirt and belt. I'm working on the assumption that it was a Sahar, as it had the fishing-line front connecting the bra cups, and because she seems to be connected with Sahar anyway.

Our position at the back was sometimes a bit problemmatical, because people in front of us would insist on standing up and blocking our view, but Kay and our main looker-afterer did their best to ask them to sit down and let us see. And of course Aziza was working the audience for a lot of the time anyway. Fortunately she spent quite a lot of time with the obviously wealthy (I'm talking several wads of notes piled 6 inches high, per person) people at the table next to us, so we got to see her reasonably close up.

And *then* our looker-afterer asked her to come and see us at our table! Woohoo!!!! She shook hands with us and had her photo[**] taken with some of us.

I was loving Aziza's dancing. I think she's got a reputation for being aloof, but that's not what I was seeing at all. She has that thoroughly Egyptian quality of calm isolation, where her hipwork looks to be happening entirely independently from the rest of her body, and a sort of self-containment, and everything is where it should be! She did Enta Omri as her Oum Khalsoum piece, and then she was off...

It was a fab, fab evening, and I can heartily reccommend the Sunset, they looked after us so well, even though we weren't exactly Big Spenders!

And so to bed...

[*] I'm saying "she" and "her"- she was a lady by choice, which I can't imagine is a very easy choice in Egypt, so all power to her.
[**] Like at the Unknown Club, photos were not generally allowed, mainly because of people being there with people they aren't really supposed to be there with, or not supposed to be being there at all. Not that there's any danger that the wives seeing our photos on FB or anything. But Rules is Rules. But here's a photo of the fruit platter, which was pretty fancy, with candles and cocktail decorations!

Fruit Platter at the Sunset


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Mar. 7th, 2013 08:41 am (UTC)
It was a fab night. Loved the club and Aziza. I wish I could do that every Thursday.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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