Before I leave my story and move on to Cleveland, I have to give note to another dancer that I worked with on 8th Ave. before and during my time there. Yildiz and I were friends and probably the sweetest of them all and a strong dancer.
Zoraida I guess is probably my fondest memory from those years. Very infrequently Buckus “owner of the Britania” would let us come off stage and talk to someone we knew at the bar but always on alert for anyone from the Cabaret Licensing Board. This one night Kazar came in and said, Hey Gyps, you should see the “faukin” (New York common slang) dancer up in the Egyptian Gardens. She’s hot shit and her “faukin” zills (finger cymbals) are “faukin” dynamite. She’s up there with those “faukin” Turkish witches and kickin ass. Too funny! Well he was right, she kicked ass. Exotic & Powerful with “faukin” zills stronger then I had ever heard, with her own individual style. Talk about dancing to your own beat! She was born in Puerto Rico with Aztec origins, raised in New York. She had that FLAMINGO FLARE oozing from every PASSIONATE-EXOTIC pore in her body. A new concept for me, her dancing had passion. She was the first & only dancer that I could FEEL her raw passion. She was an orchid among roses.
There was a club “on the east side on 50th.” called The Round Table. I heard Morocco was dancing
there and wanted to see her. The club was very up scale, valet parking etc. Alright, I
saved some money and went. What ever———I walked out of there and felt like going
home and shooting myself. I had a great ear and sense of rhythm, no formal dance
back round, but I did pride myself on being a great gymnast. Jemela was introduced not
Morocco, I cannot remember anything after that, she blew my mind and confidence. Again!
Think about doing a back bend undulating all the way down, then kneeling on one leg, the
other extended, in a back bend and pivoting at the same time. GEEZZ! Do you have any idea what power that takes? I honestly do not remember if Morocco was there that night or not.
Jemela was classy, powerful powerful powerful. A lot of Ballet training and put my
gymnastic abilities under the carpet. What a woman, what a entertainer, such class.
She danced in Beirut, Lebanon and on Broadway in N.Y. She also traveled with the
Broadway show Zorba the Greek. She is a legion personified.
We are still friends and she is still absolutely powerfully beautiful.
The Egyptian Gardens was across the street from the other clubs and up a flight of stairs. It was also different in the fact that most musicians there were Turkish along with most of the dancers. It also did not have a pull out stage. The band did sit back on a smaller platform like the other clubs but the tables were situated around a huge dance floor.
Here performing was the famous Turkish singer and dancer Saliha. She was the only dancer “ever” to dance once a night, at midnight. Everyone else did two shows.
The Egyptian Gardens is where I really learned more about that 9/8 (Karshlama) that Sabah had whipped out for Athena. All the Turkish dancers used it. I never worked the Egyptian Gardens.
Then there was Soraya Melik “Turkish” who also sang. As beautiful as Saliha was, it was Soraya that caught my eye with that special something that I wanted to capture. Pure Class on stage with a sense of rhythm. Soraya Melic taught me how to cut skirts.
These are the dancers that did work there during my time in New York and they are the ones that I watched every chance I could.
Bottom left, another top Bouzouki player John Angelou, singer
I don’t remember but middle is famous Turkish dancer Princess Nyeela,
Far right famous clarinet Costas Stavastakis. I can’t swear to the correct spelling.( We SAT!)