I had the opportunity to go Las Vegas and work in a motel lounge that was at that time across from the Hacienda. Sorry, I can’t recall the name, but there I met Antoine Hage. He was an excellent Oud player originally from Lebanon. After a few short months I went to San Diego with him and met his beautiful family. I worked there another few short months and returned to Detroit. Not long after I went back to Minnesota and went brain dead again and got married. I worked “George’s in Fridley” Greek night club every winter for 5 years and “Nicholas” for a year. There I gained a life long friend and dancer MaryKaye Piazza.
1977-Divorced, back on the road to Chicago, Detroit, Denver, San Diego (where I worked with Antoine again).
Denver, I met a really good dancer named Valerie and in back again in Detroit another great dancer, Rheema. And finally, San Francisco, CA. which was the nightmare of my entire career that I will pass on telling. What I will tell you is that one beautiful thing did come out of that miserable time a year later back in Detroit. Aida approached me at a party I was doing. She remembered me and we talked about what happened and still joke about it. Just a note, she had nothing to do with the event. Since, we have become life long friends. Her talents never cease to amaze me. She sings in Arabic, sings opera, has a masters on piano, plays any reed instrument, her ability to play different cymbal patterns are incredible and, as a dancer she is a master technician with all the “Chutzpah” to go with it. She is an encyclopedia of information and a loving caring giving person. If you ever have a chance to study with her, you would be blessed.
Enjoy the best Greek food in Dallas and Dallas’ favorite Belly Dancers, Neenah, Aliki and Aicha. The belly dancers and Stratos are great for every celebration. It is totally fun and festive. Every Friday and Saturday is great belly dancing entertainment with Neenah, Aliki and Aicha and every Thursday night, the Harem Jewels will make your evening a memorable one for your special event. Join us at Stratos and learn to Greek Folkdance and belly dance with the beautiful belly dancers of Dallas, Texas.
Even though I had worked my first Arabic Club with “Iklas” in Chicago, I was not use to an all Arabic band. Detroit would change that. It was certainly different from the Greeks, Armenians and Turkish that I was accustomed to. I always had a great sense of timing, a natural “beat” It was easy to feel and pick up. This kind of music allowed me to grow and again watching how the dancers there interpreted it. It was still cabaret, but not. The dancers used the same kind of costuming as in New York but the ambiance was completely different and of course the culture. I was a quick study. Although I didn’t think I could be impressed any more, I was wrong. The two best dancers in my opinion at that time, in Detroit, and still are the amazing “SHEBA” and “NOORA.” Since that time when schools started popping up they were giving names to certain movements. “The Choo Choo?” Like a train. Anyway, if you are in the business you know the movement. Let me tell you, Sheba had that down pat and was doing it back in the 60’s and the only dancer I had ever see do it ever, not even in New York. And she did as easy as we walk. She also had unbelievable stomach muscle control making half her stomach roll up separately and then down the other side simultaneously. Bitch, I love her! She was glamorous, refined, beautiful and a classic with a heart of gold. Noora, ahh, Noora did the best Belady on the face of the earth. Some movements cannot be duplicated. Some styles stand by them self. Noora on Belady was the instrument, the music. Belady and Noora are one composition. She out-shined the music. To watch her dance Belady was hearing the song for the first time. My two beloved life time friends. Unfortunately I have no pictures of Sheba, only a old video and a oil painting that Noora did of her that I will share.
Love ruins a lot of things. When your hormones kick in your brain quits. Alas, I fell in love and left for Minnesota. Needless to say, they are a lot of stories between what I write here, so I went home to Mama and reflected a lot on what I had learned. New York was music, dance, costuming & cultures. Puerto Rico was real entertainment, costumes, makeup, public relations.
Still, looking back I have to reference a few personal opinions. I worked with many, many musicians and some absolutely excellent but for me during those years the best Oud player that I personally worked with that was helpful and kind and always kept my back was Dicky Barsamian. He is still working in New York and is on you tube and has some CD’s. His Cd (The Dick Barsamian Trio). Live at the Tripple Inn has the best “Karsilama” I ever heard. The taxim is incredible.
Another favorite musician is Sudan (or Souren) Baronian. An Armenian born in New Jersey that plays sax and clarinet or anything else he can put his lips to, A jazz lover that plays Mid Eastern rhythms to jazz. He is also on you tube. My favorite CD is (Taxim-It’s about time) Try dancing on it!
I called a talent agency and went on the road mostly around Wisconsin and Illinois working week-ends here and there that had night club acts. The pay was very good especially for those years, 2 nights, $200. I ended up finally in Chicago. I worked every club there at the time and had the honor of working with “Dahlena” and “Iklas ” (Iklas was a phenomenal
entertainer and the first dancer I saw using a cape. Iklas used (rock glasses, not shot glasses) during her act and —–When I started teaching Neenah, I told her I would teach her from my memories. Some things I couldn’t personally do, but I could explain and get her to do them. This is how we came up with the shot glass idea!). “Dahlena” and “Iklas” were the only 2 dancers that had impressed me since I left New York and both of them were beautiful ladies on and off stage.