Posted on 19/02/2018 by siteadmin
Research – How important is it?? (and an update on Cairo)
Academia isn’t really my thing so the concept of research has always seemed a bit dry to me. I imagine sifting through piles of paper, reading books, surfing the net ….. none of which I am good at. I can do it but it is a chore not a pleasure. Yvette Cowles researched everything, checked her sources, gathered information and facts like a squirrel storing nuts. Whether teaching a workshop or designing the JWAAD courses, her research was far reaching and intensive. The level of detail she went into and obscure footage she sourced for the History and Culture course brought the past to life. What could have been a dry subject became a fascinating insight into past lives.
My area of expertise is ‘Cairo Today’. This is the sort of research I enjoy …. getting out and about on the streets of Cairo, chatting with people, going to different clubs. Part of what I do is take groups to Cairo and when Irene Tormo requested I do a Cairo Nightlife trip focussing on the clubs, I was delighted. Often if groups are sightseeing they do not have the energy to do many late nights as well.
We stay in a local 3 star hotel in Downtown Cairo. I have been asked to base trips at 5 star hotels but my USP is discovering the real Cairo – not being insulated from it in a 5 star hotel that could be in any country. We use taxis and the local metro system. I occasionally hire a bus for the group but for local trips we use taxis. You rarely see foreigners on the metro – often school girls or young women practice their English on us. We can practice our Arabic. Did you know the Cairo metro has women only carriages – a concept they should bring in in rush hour in the UK. Far nicer to be pressed into a bunch of women than men!!
We saw a whole host of shows ….. from Downtown cabarets with lots of reverb and a range of dancers …. but the best singer ever. He is the reason for going and the girls had a great time boogying the night away. The best night in town without a doubt is Thursday night at the Fairmont. The amazing Amthal (pronounced Amsal) sings a range of old classics and has a full band. It is worth the extortionate minimum charge just to hear her. Then Soraia Zaeed. I have known Soraia since she first came to Cairo and danced at a tiny restaurant called the Aladin. Now she is a Cairo star. Her dance show is varied, her costumes fabulous and, who knew, she can even play the tabla!! I went to her dressing room after and we caught up on gossip then she and Amthal had their photos taken with the girls.
We got to see Sahar twice. Sahar was the last Egyptian dancer in Dinas competition – she came third loosing out to Ala Kushnar and Soraya (a different one). The competition raised their profile and put Sahar into a new league. I have followed her rise to stardom with interest. She can be seen on the Blue Nile (I love this place and it is a great intimate setting for a dancer) and at the Ritz Carlton which is where we went this time. A new 5 star venue – outdoors. Unfortunately the day we went it rained. The stage was moved under cover and the show went on. A much more difficult space as the energy diffuses out of doors and it is hard to create an impact. Then I also got to see her at Randas opening show on the Maxim. She was electric. Fabulous – and some amazing costumes – 2 of them (my favourites by Eman Zaki). Her saidi and baladi sets left me speechless.
The end of the Cairo nightlife week (we saw: Brenda, Sahar, Aziza, Lucy, Christina, Soraia + several other unknown dancers), several of the girls transferred to the Barcello hotel for the Randa Kamel of Course week. I joined them at the opening and Randa was on fire. She gave us her all – she is like an animal in its prime. The power and energy behind her performance are fantastic. Then she finished with a fun fellahi set which was playful and had us all laughing out loud. Randa is a dancers dancer. She puts on a great show, has technique to die for and a great band behind her.
So, is research a chore? Not this sort of research for sure. Is it important? Vital. Whether it be historic research or current research, the more informed you are, the more depth and range you can bring to what you do. Whether it be writing and delivering accredited courses, teaching workshops, giving talks for local WI’s or performing different styles. If you are interested in putting everything into context and finding out more, join us on a History and Culture course. If you are a passionate student, this is the link for you. If you teach or are thinking of teaching, this is the link for you.
This trip included valentines day – you should see how overboard the Egyptians go for Valentine. When I get back to the UK, I’ll post more pictures. Keep an eye on the Farida Adventure facebook page