About 5 or 6 months into working the “Club Istanbul” on a night off, I ventured down to the other end of Greek Town to the Grecian Gardens where I was promptly offered a job for $5.00 more. One of the 3 owners, said he saw me dance at the Istanbul and wanted to hire me. I was making big bucks for the time period ($20 a night_Secretaries at the time were paid $45.00 a week!)
In New York on the Avenue at that time, there were 8 clubs in a two block strip. Each club had 3 belly dancers and a live band. The belly dancers came and went. The owners sometimes kept a dancer just to fill the stage but only the best stayed. At this point in my belly dancing career, I had no idea if I was a stage fill or what. I was clueless.
Filling the stage! Now that is more trivia. We all had to sit on stage because of the “Cabaret Law” We had to have a Cabaret License to work in New York City. You know the license Billy Holiday had revoked because of felony charges. Watch the movie “Lady sings the Blues.” During that time, there was NO talking or fraternizing with customers and NO going around for tips. You could have your license pulled along with the owner, fined or both.
Years later “The Rat Pack” Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop were directly instrumental in getting the “Cabaret Law/License” thrown out.
Grecian Gardens was the second club I worked. I left very soon after because of reasons I will not disclose, but as much as I loved belly dancing, the harassment and unethical behavior that existed at that place was unbearable.
As I was walking down the Avenue “jobless” carrying my pitiful costumes and in a funk, I see three men, standing in front of the Britania. They were the Britania owner “Backus,” the musician “Eddy Kojak” (know as “Eddy “The Sheik” Kojak”) and a customer that was always around the clubs, “Kazar.”
I said “hello” and they said “hello.” I told them I was looking for work as a belly dancer, and I was hired. Wow! I was so “Blown Away.” I felt like I just graduated from something. Backus, Eddie Kojak and Kazar became so instrumental in my belly dancing career.