Walid, Zahra and Fadil
all went to S.F. State college Walid and Z became romantically
involved. She wanted to get married. She changed her name legally
and converted to Islam. Walid then left for Kuwait and married
a girl picked out by his family. Zahra then married a Jew and
had a mixed ceremony with both a sheikh and a rabbi and moved
to Los Angeles.
The End of Bagdad and the Man Murdered in the Fall of 1983
Kathy Trewin-Azhar was dancing on stage. Amina was in the dressing room, Stephanie (aka Stefania) was in the audience (who else? Jalil Khoury). the musicians on stage were- Fouad Marzouk, Jad Elias, George Dabai, and Jimmy was the bartender .
Jimmy used to own the Jazz Workshop which was next door. He raised guppies and gave Amina 20 very fancy guppies. His wife ran a series of Chinese restaurants that failed. He wore a toupee, worked at the Holiday Inn in Chinatown during the day. The bartender at Casbah, was Goli's husband, an Arab from Tunisia ? not sure-(Goli is now a flamenco dancer).
3 guys came in to Bagdad from Puerto Rico, they really liked the music and stayed late on this weeknight.They tipped everyone. They bought Amina a drink, she talked with them in her limited Spanish. She left them when it was her turn to get ready to dance.
She heard from the dressing room the ZING,ZING ZING from Fouad's kanoun. She was worried that Fouad had had a heart attack- he had just had a heart operation. She looked downstairs to see one guy stabbing another guy who was trying to protect himself with a chair but was being restrained by the third guy, pushing him further into the club. They left the guy dead on the ground and took off. Who was the doorman? (Mike? The guy with the sword cane) The guys were not caught. Everyone at the Bagdad was in shock and all had to go to the police station to make a report. Joe (Jalil) Khoury (who later became one of the owners of Shaharazad Restaurant), who was thought by some to be occasionally a jerk, helped everyone that night keep it together. He calmed everyone down. He's actually an okay guy.
Rumor on the
street was that the murder was over a drug deal gone sour and
it was a set-up. The Bagdad was picked because there wasn't many
customers in there that night! Jad's lease was due for renewal
and he chose not to renew. The club closed on New Year's a couple
months after the murder. Nobody would talk about the incidents.
Fadil & Walid wandered in about 15 min later. "You're late, you're fired." They had a lengthy discussion in Arabic. Yousef ended up crying, throwing ash trays, breaking everything. He fired everyone and said the place was closed. Fadil whispered, "I'll show him. I'll open a place next door and put him out of business!" After Yousef had calmed down, he hired everyone back and bought everyone a drink.
Fadil opened his place next door a few months later. He got Walid and Kamel and another brother from Washington DC to lend money and help open the Casbah. Mostly the audience went back and forth, but there also seemed to be a tendency for the Moslems to go to the Casbah and the Christians to the Bagdad. Nobody really liked Yousef. Everyone liked Fadil. Both clubs existed side by side for 15 yrs. Yousef eventually sold the place to George Elias who became his brother-in -law, marrying his sister- Arousa. Then Yousef became friends with Fadil again. Arousa now lives in Sacramento. George Elias and Fadil feuded over parking places, "your car hit my car". George had heart problems. He sold life insurance during the days, drank coffee all day and worked each night at the Bagdad. He sent for his brother in Detroit, Jad. Jad took over and George opened a liquor store on Mission Street and gave up the night life. You could visit him at his liquor store and he would say he didn't miss the club at all. He got into motorcycles and bodybuilding.
Fadil then created the El Morocco in Concord and sold the Casbah to people who were rumoured to be the North Beach Mafia. They own a lot of strip clubs there. It then became another strip club.They have since called Amina for dancers. Anke did a party there last year as a regular belly dancer, not a stripper. She was paid alot for 2 or 3 very short sets at $50 each. Jalal Takesh first played at the Bagdad as a drummer. Then at the Casbah. Jalal brought in a santour and began to play it. Fadil didn't like it-"take it back!" Then he came in with a kanoun. Jalal was living in a basement and going to school. Andy/Saida & Ahmed came to town after a show in Las Vegas. They began working at the Bagdad. Andy and Jalal began dating and married. He wouldn't let her dance anymore (ed-Saida disputes this) . Jamila used to be part owner of the Bagdad. Vince and Naji said she was just hired there. But Amina saw a sign on the window when they were changing the liquor license and it listed her as an owner along side Yousef Kouyoumjian. Yousef was Turkish and Armeninan from Bagdad, Iraq.
When Amina first went to the Bagdad, Jamila was dancing there. Stationary in the middle of the stage, big black dress on and playing zils. Ask Arousa in Sacramento, but it was rumored- Yousef and Jamila were engaged but then Salim Salimpour and Jamila ran off together and got married. Jamila and Yousef remained friends. Yousef now lives in Spain.
Evening Show Schedule at Bagdad
Back to schedule of show--- 1st dancer dances x ~45 min, one song between, then the next dancer, etc..The musicians never took a break except for one section of a dance to go to the restroom. It was like musical chairs. Yousef always wanted an act on stage.
The singing bellydancer-Najma Salim, Short, legally changed her name to her stage name., She started by singing "Ouloulee Asmaranee" and did a finger cymbal solo at the end instead of a drum solo. (no connection to Jamila) Amina was the first to play the mother goddess role for Jamila. The Bal Anat troupe was first started in response to Jamila being asked to do a lecture at the Milberry Union at UCSF. She wanted to do the whole chronology of the Mother Goddess thing. Amina was known for her bellyrolls so Jamilla asked her to do the birth dance. She wanted Amina to do it topless, but Amina refused. So she did it in a flesh colored leotard. Amina wasn't part of Jamila's group, just filled in for that part. After the Ren Faire, Amina remembers that Jamila would do "Moon Festivals" at the Casbah which were student nights.
Dancers at Bagdad and Casbah never had contracts. When Yousef sold the Bagdad to George, Yousef told George to keep Amina on. Amina worked longer than the others but was told by Yousef, if she didn't change her act regularly he would change the face (replace her). She did Whirling dervish, Salome's seven veils (never striped to naked!) using neon veils and a 7 panel skirt (that stayed on) that glowed in the black light. The dancers all bought the day-glo fabric at Dance Arts on Powell.
Yousef tried everything--
The Snake Dancer
Akef- Amina's teacher after
on the Edge by Amina
North Beach Memories