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Archive for June, 2011

So I’m clearing up my desktop on my laptop as I’m heading to New Orleans on a week long work trip, and I discover some musings I wrote whilst on ANOTHER work trip earlier this year to NYC… I’m popping them here as I have a Meanderings and Musings section, for all things “Adventure” that don’t quite fall into bellydancing…

**Written in a hotel room, round the corner from the Empire State, during a strange, sleep-deprived but caught up in the romance of the City, Carrie-style fantasy**

So it only feels appropriate, since I’m in a hotel room, with my laptop perched precariously on my laptop, that I have some kind of dialogue with myself via that laptop. New York City is… captivating, it’s not so much the hustle and bustle that you hear about, since there seems to be enough room for everyone, it’s the colours, with the whizzing past of the bright yellow taxis, the smells, Nuts4Nuts carts on the corner with that burnt sugar waft, the sounds, as broad New York accents mingle with the rattle on the pavement from the far underground passing subway train.
I’m entranced, I love it, I constantly glance up at the towering skyscrapers and the bright blue sky overhead. Those towers block out the sun for most of my walk and then the sun breaks through an illuminates the sidewalk, blasting strong rays of light onto the back of my retina, temporarily blinding me to the path ahead.

Wall Street

Wandering through the financial district


Each block presents a feast to the eyes, as I pass delis with large multi-coloured cakes bursting at the seams, tacky NYC stores with every kind of New York trinket available to buy, coffee shops, gilded banks, neon Irish bars, all cheek to cheek with each other.
And yes, the smoking manhole covers. You hear about them, you see them, and yet you still want to take a photo of them.
There’s so much to do here that my feet are killing me. 10 hours of walking around yesterday simply wasn’t enough. I still need to get back out there. I have to go to one of the city’s best kept shopping secrets (I would say, but it’s a secret) tonight after work, but it’s OK, it’s open until at least 10…. I want to go to the top of the Empire State Building, but that’s OK, it’s open until 2am. I need to have dinner – I’ve been recommended an amazing place a few blocks away (the feet are mentally counting the steps), and I just need to walk around a bit more (feet scream noooo), take some more snaps on my Blackberry phone, say a few more hellos to random strangers. Breathe in more Nuts4nuts smoke and look up at the towering giants a few more times before bed.

The Boat at Battery Park

The Boat and the Babe

It’s a place that I feel comfortable being alone. There were plans for Happy Hour drinks after work today that got cancelled this afternoon, but I’m happy to do my own thing instead. So many different people here, a lot of unidentifiable dialect and a Canon pointing upwards, it’s easy to feel like I’m one of the locals, and I like that.
The pace is fast, the energy is high when you’re talking to people, the taxis don’t wait for you, they just hurtle past at breakneck speed, but somehow it’s easy to go at your own pace along the streets, and spend that time observing life pass you by. It’s the spectacle that’s so intriguing and I don’t want to rush to get to my destination, when the destination is occurring all around me.

Dogs in the City

I just fell in love with a local..

Dogs. New Yorkers love their dogs. Perhaps that’s why I love it here. Yesterday on my stroll from mid-town to down-town I came across park after park. Mostly devoid of all greenery as Spring is yet to set in here. And nearly all parks without exception had a gated off play area. Normal for a park, yes, and the play areas were busy with people, sitting on benches and chatting with passersby as they watched their DOGS socialise, play, fight and chase each other. It was hilarious and I was captivated. It’s as if the city has decided that human children are not the way forward, it’s all about the furry, four-legged variety.

And these dogs come in all shapes and sizes – from giant, wooly, mountain sheep dogs, to tiny hairless rats of dogs, all with their own coats/jackets/doggy blazers, trotting alongside their owners, off to meet their friends in the park.
Bonkers but brilliant. I belong here.

p.s. There is a tenuous bellydance connection here – I met up with a very good friend who I used to dance with in Oxford – who is a New Yorker, still living it large in NYC – she took me to a delicious Middle Eastern restaurant and taught me how to tip on a credit card!!

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I know it’s a cliche, but time does rocket by, I can’t believe it’s been a year since I was last in the audience of the Hathor Hafla snapping (camera) and clapping away with the riot of wondrous bellydance acts that the annual Summer Hafla brings along to Kiddo (that’s Kidlington to the rest of the world). Last night was a lot of fun. Gill and I had decided, only a few weeks ago at the Bellydance Bonanza that we NEEDED to get back up on stage and resurrect Soleil d’Egypte – and we were lucky enough to be in the first third (it’s a show of three thirds!) – so we could then sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of the show.

So we were the opening guest act – performing straight after Hathor (always a challenge!) and I did my usual thing of being terrified, waiting in the wings, practising the moves in my head and throwing a sudden blank as we are introduced and skip out, in the darkness, into centre stage… BUT I am pleased to say that we pulled it off (Jilina, of Bellydance Superstars’ choreography to La Azon by Mohammed Fouad) without a hitch – I really enjoyed dancing this one, with all its spins and jumps and the wagging no no no no finger move 🙂 YAY! Loved being back on stage as well – it feels like AGES (not performed since last Halloween). Then, all hot and breathless, I was able to scuttle back to my front row seat to admire the other performers from close up!

So needless to say, as ever at Hathor, there is a rainbow of performers, from solists, to groups, of all shapes, sizes and bellydance styles – from sultry veil numbers to full on carnivale affairs – and this year the thirds seemed pretty short and snappy – so the night motored through at quite a pace, with the wonderful MC/comedey from the compare, the wonderful drumming from John Sleiman in the breaks and shop shop shopping!


So my highlights were… from Part 1, it has to be Nikki Livermore with an impentrable drum solo which turned into a battle of the sexes – man versus woman, drum versus hips – and I think Nikki won! She can shimmy for Britain – infact the world (and I heard she recently got back from Brazil, which explains a few of those insane bottom shaking moves that had us all shouting for more at the end of a very exhausting set!

My Part 2 highlights were Ashnah (actually my favourite dance of the evening), doing a steampunk come can can performance, all killer boots, bustly skirts and attitude. LOVED it – and what great facial expressions MORE MORE MORE!
From a pure spectacular, choreographical marval and just “I can’t take enough photos but want to watch without my camera” front, hats off to Negoum El Leyl’s dance – a riot of colour with Isis wings, fluffy peacock fans, silk veils, fan veils, candles, all, somehow moving and spinning and whirling and twirling in UNISON. Wonderful, spectacular, and completely and utterly prop-tastic!


So with Part 3 comes my new bellydance crush – Sundara ATS – I LOVE these girls – doing American Tribal Style dancing with their fierce makeup and amazing hair and costumes, just a feast to look at and that’s before they start dancing. Their movements were sublime, they melted into the floor and moved with real style and grace, I was completed bewitched and just was thinking the whole way through “I want to dance like this, I need to dance like this”.. and so, I need to get some tribal in my life.. any suggestions gratefully received! (I quite fancy Tribal Fest in Cali..). Not only did they execute a hipnotising dance, they then rocked out to Personal Jesus, which nearly bought the house down (or the front row, at least!) Great stuff… And then, to close the show, Hathor pulled one of their usual crowd-pleasers out of the bag – putting more energy than I thought was possible into the Flo-Rida track Club Can’t Handle Me – the front row was literally jumping out of their seats with excitement!!


I’ve been going to Hathor now since 2004, and it’s amazing these days just how much variety and creativity the dancers put into their acts, which is something that seems to increase each year – back when Soleil d’Egypte started performing, there weren’t many times in a Hafla when dancers did something unexpected, but these days each time a group/dancer comes on stage, you don’t quite know what to expect and I think that the Hathor Hafla really embraces that, which I personally love and encourage. Another great vintage Hathor – lalalallalallalalallla! (my online version of the zaghareet).

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