Letters to the Editor

Email the Snake--editor@gildedserpent.com

November 1999- Febuary 2000



Hello Lynette:

Many thanks for your recent e-mail. Your site and information is fabulous. Many thanks for contacting us.
We hope to be corresponding with you in the near future.

Best regards - Annette and Angeline


Hey somehow I got this weird and wonderful email from SnakeByte [
ed-our email announcement of new articles posted,send us a note to get on the list!] with an Islamic greeting that caught my attention. Did you know that in Kiswahili from the Arabic coast of Kenya--where I lived for 30 years--the greeting is "Shikamoo" and the reply is "Marahaba"? Shikamoo is a very courteous
greeting especially for elders and it means literally, "I kiss your feet." "And I return the blessing," is the reply! Lovely, thanks for making my day!

Daniel Kilonzo wa Kyalo



Hi Lynette, I just left your site, I found it to be quite remarkable, colorful as well as useful. I'm very impressed with your video collection. I read about Latcho Drum and plan to buy it along with some
other videos. Keep up the fantastic job your doing.

Betty aka (Saudia)



Hi, just completed your survey, and I wrote some comments in the feedback section. I hope you get to read them because I really enjoy both your websites. If you don't get to read my comments, I'll repeat some of them here. I really like the fact that you honor your family on your website. I too have an extremely supportive, wonderful husband and family.

Anyway, I also dance with a snake. I'm not sure there are many of us out there that do that. There is a few other people in my area who do, of course, Eva Cernik and another dancer out here in Denver (I'm based primarilly in Boulder, but of course go to Denver), whose name is Siovanna.




Dear members of the Gilded Serpent,
I believe
Shira's advice to "Offended" was very good. (Offended, of course, was the student who watched a dance teacher try to steal another dance teacher's students.) However, I think Shira forgot one thing. I believe "Offended" should have written or called the unethical teacher and pointed out that her slimyness was noted and unappreciated. A lot of dishonest people will change, or at least be more careful, when they are caught. It is embarassing to be caught in deception or poor ethics, and I think it will make a good lesson for this teacher to know that she lost potential customers because of her actions. Belly dancing is, in America, a very small business, and it has a better chance of survival when the dancers stick together rather than stab each other in the back. Maybe some one should say to this woman's face (better it be a customer) that she was wrong.

Perizada Tylwyth



Hi there,

I finally found some time after this busy holiday season to sit down and read some of the great articles on the site. I plan to read on, but today I only got through the collection by Najia I sincerely loved them. I especially liked the one called;
Be Careful What You Wish For. I am in total agreement with her stance. Bravo!
Send me gildedserpant cards and I'll include them in all our out going
video and audio orders!




My name is Antoinette, I was reading the article about
Dahlena when I saw my name mentioned, I too worked in 12 Adler place in the very early 60's. I met Yousef Kayoumian when I started dancing in the Fez in Los Angeles, before he went to San Francisco and then I met Jamila who invited me up to San Francisco to dance. I, too, was among the first dancers in Southern Calif. and had the advantage of being an Arab to boot!!

Dahlena and I did dance together in Las Vegas in '63, however we were not pregnant then :) The son I had in '65 is now married to Jamila's daughter Suhaila who is quite well known now. All the dancers Dahlena mentioned I either knew or danced with myself. It was interesting reading the article.




I love your site. It's interesting and extremely cool. You can count on me to contribute whatever it takes to make the next segment work. I think you are getting at the source of what they call "modern belly dance." Watch it; you are walking on hallowed ground! There are people who think it came to them in a sweaty dream or the gods' ordinate it down to the style of underpants. Well, enough of that.

I can help with that transition period in San Francisco's North Beach area, (the time between non-naked dance and fully naked dance). Belly dancers who ate glass as part of their act, and those who left their
costumes at home. and then, of course, those few, small Arab clubs with live fresh-off-the boat guys, and the dancers who grew in that environment. This was also the time of the punk rock explosion at North Beach's Mabuhay Gardens. Life was a cycle of going to work (the night shift at the discovery
book shop) a store which really was an institution, located two doors from City Lights Books and next door to Vesuvio's Cafe. We sold only used books and the emerging 7 inch records: Devo, Trax, P. Ubu,
crime, and of course, my own group, Destry Hampton.

With all that activity, sexual and otherwise, I never once met Amina. She was the little girl that stayed in her dressing room. On the BoHo end, at that time a lot of really famous folks were still kicking, like H. Miller, Kaufman, and that dense Romanian, Codrescu was around touting his stuff. I could also connect you with Lewis Collins, who, if he would play ball, would have great insights to that particular period and area, (although, he looked at the literary content, and I was in the clubs, so we have a split judgement).

The best to you,
Gregory Burke.



Hi, Lynette! I am Faten, Nadia Elias's sister and George Elias's-the owner of the Bagdhad, NOT "the trouble maker's"-youngest daughter. It was very interesting to actually see everything written on screen about the "old days." Amina-you are SO funny! My uncle Yousef HAS to read this somehow! He would probably laugh. I didn't remember ALL the craziness back then, but I remember a lot, just like it was yesterday. I can't believe the pictures, even of Jimmy the bartender! Although my dad was tired from the business, he always loved his music. I still remember him playing the oud in the living
room at home. Anyways, I also have to stick up for Yousef and say he really is so sweet, and all artists are moody-so that will be his excuse from me-for now. Hee!Hee! I can't wait to see what's next.
God bless you,dad. You are always in our hearts........
Nadia, Mona, and Faten Elias


Hi! I just wanted to say that I truly enjoy your site it is fascinating. Well, I would like to tell you a little about me. My name is Nadia Elias and I have been dancing for a little over two years now. I just started performing only a couple of months ago, so I still consider myself a beginner. My father used to own the
Bagdad on Broadway in the 70's he was a well known musician named George Elias. He had bought the Bagdad from my uncle Yousef Kouyoumjian. I take lessons from Amina Goodyear and occasionally dance at El Valenciano. My regular dancing job is at the restaraunt called The Pride of the Mediterenean, on the corner of Fillmore and Sutter. Well, I am writing to you just to let you know that ther is another middle eastern restaraunt with belly dancing in the city, so if you wanted to put that on the list go ahead and do so.
Sincerely, Nadia Elias


Lynette -- thanks for the e-mail. I know the hype is "millenium" -- however, as the decade, the century, the millenium, don't end this Dec. 31 -- but on 12:01:01 January 1, 2001, the hype does seem a little premature.

Don't believe everything the media spits out. Check your facts.

Kat Lebo

[Dear Kat,
You must be kidding! We here at GS take our fun wherever and whenever we can find it. For instance, we learned that we could celebrate two Christmases--December 25 with the rest of America, then we can also celebrate it (and hang our Christmas stockings an additional time each year) on January 7th with the Greek Orthodox. Imagine, Santa twice! Finding this to be a pleasant and profitable endeavour, we have added the Canadian Thanksgiving to our calendar as well as the Winter Solstice and Bert Baladine's birthday--both falling on December 22nd this year. When we cannot find a religious or secular holiday we resort to mad hatter parties and unbirthdays. Yes, ma'am, life is just a chair of bowlies here at the GS offices.
Join us in a toast to the New Year or the Unmillennium...!
Love from the Snake ;^)


My deepest thanks to you, as a belly dancer and as a librarian, for the work you're doing with the "
North Beach Memories" series. It's already showing the outlines of a crucial period in the evolution of Raks Sharqi/belly dance in the U.S., and I look forward to its growing richer and deeper as more dancers and teachers come forward with their stories.

You could do the dance community an even greater service by alerting these memoirists -- and all your readers -- to San Francisco's Performing Arts Library and Museum. PALM preserves and makes accessible materials about the performing arts, with a special emphasis on the San Francisco Bay
Area's rich and diverse performing arts heritage, through a huge collection of books, videos, costumes, set designs, playbills, oral histories and personal papers of artists.

But they don't have much on bellydance -- yet. Apart from interviews with
Jamie Miller (Sabah) and videos of the Baptiste's annual contest and the Ethnic Dance Festivals, there is -one- book. For the city where bellydance as we now know it first took shape, and the birthplace of American Tribal Style, this is pitiful.

PALM can be contacted at info@sfpalm.org or by phone at 415 255-4800. They're physically located in the Veteran's Building at 401 Van Ness at MacAllister, 4th Floor, and in cyberspace at www.sfpalm.org (check the catalog and "Dance" section for a sense of what's there already: lots of ballet, some modern and jazz dance, not *nearly* enough med-dance). It's a great resource for the performing arts in general -- it CAN be a resource for ours.

Thanks! And tell'em Jo sent you --

Jo Falcon, MLIS
aka Ma'Aleesh of the Gondora Sisters


Hi Lynette,
Thanks for the update. I've just finished browsing/reading the "
North Beach Memories" pages and wow what a trip down memory lane...and I wasn't really a part of the scene except for one
Moon Festival at the
Casbah as Aida's student and some visits over the years between 1978 and 1984/5. I do remember the steep decline in "safety" in that area during that time period. Toward
the end I rarely went because of that added on to the long drive and awful parking situation.

I loved the photos of
Fadil...Nader looks SOOOOOOOOO much like him!

I personally don't really have any stories to tell about the "era", except for the fact that at both places belly dance students got 50% off drinks at both the Casbah and the
Bagdad, although we were still required to have at least two.

I can probably get hold of Aida El Adawi's phone number for you if you'd like to interview her. She was a big part of the scene then, dancing at the Cashbah,
Greek Taverna, occasionally at the Bagdad and who knows where else?! I was in her class in San Jose for 4 and a half years and heard some of the stories, rumors, dirt, etc., but remember very little about the details.

Picky point: Aida's name is misspelled in the
Najia interview. I won't quibble with what was said about her, though. At that time, I know she had a "big" attitude, mostly instilled by Jamila, which she(Aida), thank heaven, finally "grew" out of when she left Jamila's circle. She was, in any case, a wonderful
teacher and a great inspiration for those of us in her class and I ended up loving her dearly and deeply regretting her move to Dearborn, MI.

Somehow, I'm sure George Dabai would be glad to do an interview. I played cymbals with him, Linda(tambourine), Fuad on qanoon, Khalil on vocals at a wedding a couple of months ago. George
made a comment on how the 3 of them (the Arabs) were playing again just like on Broadway in the good ole days. I have his phone number too if you like. Actually, Linda probably has just about everybody's phone numbers and probably knows a lot of good stories.

Thank you to you and your coproducers for undertaking this project. It's a real contribution to the MEDance scene. I really like the way it's set up, with opportunities (in true WWW style) to wander off occasionally onto the "side streets".

Hope you have a wonderful holiday season!
Leyla Lois



Hi, just a little input about North Beach. Gosh, I remember going to the Casbah and Baghdad clubs to watch the dancers. I would drive up from Monterey, take the Thursday nite class at Jamila's studio above the Casbah (Rashid usually taught), and stay over to catch the show. My absolute favorite dancer to watch was Rebaba (now a Hahbi-Ruette). At that time she was very cabaret, and a stellar dancer, as she is now. She commanded both the audience and the musicians. My ex, who is now deceased, hung at both places seven nights a week, he refered to them as his "living room," since
he lived in the area, and being of Arabic blood, felt at home in the surroundings with the music, etc. He told me many stories about the dance community at that time, but they border on gossip, so my lips are sealed!




Hi Lynette,
Thanks for that great update. Makes me wish I'd been here during those
North Beach years. I was in Philadelphia and NY--not much help there. But I'll read it all with delight!
Blessings to you on these holy-days!
Karen Andes



I love your online magazine and find it quite informative and have been reccomending it to my students. One of them brought in the copyof "
Holding onto integrity" She had many valid points, but we were all shocked at the prices dancers settled for. Years ago there were dancers for $30 or $40, but in Miami, the dancers no longer accept such pay because no dancers of any other dance forms do..Ask Flamenco dancers in tablaos or anyone in any other dance field. The cheapest student dancer might command $75 for two 10 or 15 min. show on a weekly basis. The pros get $150 for 2 20 min. shows on a weekly basis. If the gig is not weekly, the restaurant pays $150 for 25 min. Now a lot of parties pay $200. When you look at how much more we spend on our dancing than other dancers, how can we accept so much less? That is a nationwide problem among middle eastern dancers and only we can change it...Beleive that we can ask for more,and restaurant owners will pay. If not, they can't afford entertainment. In Puerto Rico, dancers in restaurants get up to $100 for one show. It is up to us. Whoever asks for more $ gets more respect. I teach my students never to accept less than me. They are the future of this dance. Several times they ask for more, get more with no questions asked, despite less experience, because they expect to get paid what they ask for and they get respected. It has made me think twice about being timid when it comes to money.

Tamalyn Dallal, Director, Mid Eastern Dance Exchange, Miami Beach, Fl.


forwarded to editor]

Dear Najia:

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Aziza and I live and perform in the greater Sacramento area. I have been dancing on and off for about 20 years. But enough about me; my purpose in writing to you is to tell you how much I appreciate your viewpoint.

I have thoroughly
enjoyed your articles presented in the Gilded Serpent and as well, Habibi magazine when you had a column during the 1980's. Your writings are intelligent, thought-provoking and at the same time, convey the beauty, drama and passion of "belly dance". At times when I feel most discouraged by lack of appreciation for this dance, I can turn to your comments as a "home base" for why I have stuck with this dance form for so long.

I was also wondering about your classes, i.e. the location, cost and any other details you could provide. Will you be performing at Rakassah this year? If so, I look forward to seeing and possibly meeting you in person.

Please continue to provide the dance community with your insights and observations. I have benefited greatly from your comments, as I am sure others have too.

Yours in dance,


Sacramento, CA



I've checked out your website a few times to find out
where the oriental dance clubs are at in San Francisco. My friend and I are aspiring dumbek players who want to learn from the variety of talent in terms of drummers and dancers. Our goal by next summer's Mendocino's Middle Eastern Music & Dance Camp is to be good enough to be in Souhail's intermediate/advanced drumming class. This is all
pretty new to us, but we're highly motivated and having fun along the way!

On December 5th a few of us will be going to
Sausan's new restaurant to watch Mark Bell perform, so your article about her and her restaurant was most interesting. I'm sure I'll be getting to the other articles as well.

So take care and thanks for writing.



Hi Lynette!
I check in regularly--have you in favorite places. You've done a great job! I nread it mucho. Thanks for the e--
blissful dancing!!!


Dear Friends,
Am looking for info on 'facial' tattoos, as seen on tribal fusion styles like Fat Chance Belly Dance. Are they Henna? they don't look like it. i know some tattoos indicate what tribe a person belongs do but how about for those who just want to use them theatrically? Are there any sites
w/info on how and or why? i've been searching for days and am hoping you or other readers could help me.
-Thankfully yours, Lisa
my e-mail is wild_free_dreams@hotmail.com



Hello, this is Zaheea.

I am a big
supporter of your site. As soon as I find a studio to teach in I would like to take out a banner. But in the mean time you can add me to you list of supporters, if you like. my URL is: http://www.geocities.com/zaheea

Look for me at Rakkasa, if I can get through the phone lines:)
Thank you,

[Hi Zaheea, thanks for your letter! I will indeed look for you at Rakkasah. Please look for us also! I hate to disillusion you, but the supporters are actually people who have contributed to us financially. I really do appreciate any and all support of any kind, but to get listed there you'll need to contribute $20 or more per year. Not much eh? Consider it a magazine subscription or equivalent to a contribution to your local public radio or tv. Your Banner Ad will be most welcome too! Let me know if you need any help designing it. Thanks again! Lynette ]


Hello to you all,

Lovely the Gilded Serpent. I am Spanish but live in Belgium, and I enjoy a lot reading about MD. I know the Gilded Serpent many months ago and since then I take a good care to read everything you publish. May I ask you to put my name in your list?.

Congratulations to
Rhea for her article on the Pharaos' Festival in Egypt. I was there and it's true that the organisation was awfull and each one of the participants might add something to it. I can say, for
instance, that when I asked about Nagua Fouad's absence, I was told that she had broken a leg while performing.....(¿?).

And the last day in the Sinai, nine of us being hosted in the Holiday Inn, after checking out of the hotel at 5 a.m., were forgotten by the organizers, who drove the participants from other hotels to Cairo,
exception made of us....

By other hand, it was the first time I met Rhea: I was impressed to see her beautiful performing of turkish dance. I shall never forget it in my life and I wish I could see her again dancing. Chapeau, Rhea!



Dear Lynette
Please delete my address from your mailing list as I am not American and not interested in your site.
I hope you enjoy your thanksgiving with hormone injected turkey and gene modified vegetables. Do the world a favour and protest against this silliness (greed).

Matthew Syson [matt.syson@zen.co.uk]




I just love your online mag. I put its link on my web page! It is one of the most comprehensive sites Ive seen yet. Wonderful job!

I just wanted add a little something. My name is Zaheea (Ana) and I dance at
Marrakech Moroccan Restaurant in Sacramento. I go by Zaheea now:) It took me years to find a dancing name I prefered. The other dancers names there are Jovan (Joann) and Maishana. I also dance at El Morocco in Pleasant Hill every 2nd and 3rd Saturday of the month. I wanted to thank you for adding Marrakech to you site. I've been the head dancer there for almost 7 years and it is, in my opinion, the best 0Moroccan restauarant for dancers in Sac.

Check out my site if you get the chance.




Find the newest letters here

Older Letters  

Archives Pg 17- January through December 2007!
What's in a name, self acceptance, Men in Belly dance, Yasmina's new column, MECDA Ellections, Tajikistan, AWS fest, Arabic Idioms, Professional Presence, Suhaila in Phoenix, Music recording, Vegas IBDC, Egyptian Code, Jodette, Journey to Womanhood, New York Dance Scene, Amy Sigil, Tito Seif, Arab Defamation, Gothla, Neon's Keeping your mouth shut, Valizan Ozgen, Toronto IBCC, Burlesque, DVD purchasing, God Bellydanced, North Beach Memories, Princess Farhana fan article, Cabaret to DJ by Nina, Raqia Hassan, Serpentessa, Cover-ups, Criticism, John Bilezikjian, Certificaation, BDSS, East too West?, Vendor's View, Lynn Zalot & Habibi,

Archives Pg 16 -June 2007 through December 2007
Tatseena's Belly Bully piece, Amina's writing, IBCC coverage, Review on Tirbal DVD's, Barbary Coast and Bellyqueen, Cover-ups, Non-Profits, lifting the Veil by Yasmina,
Mona Said's letter, Music Copyrights, Ethics of Fusion, Egyptians being too Western?

Archives Pg 15- December 2006 through June 2007
Interview with Nakish, Sashi-kabob, How to charge what yo'ure worth,Tribute to Rhonda, Marliza Pons, Party booking, George Elias, "I dance you follow". Ethics of Fusion
Archives Pg 14- June 2006 through December 2006
Ethics of Fusion, Queen of the Bay, Territorialism Undermines Event Sponsor's Efforts, Greek Flavor, What ME Audiences Expect , Taxsim, Gothic Dance, Gyspy Dance, Sashi Kabob, Wierd Rituals

Archives Pg 13- November 2005 through May 2006
BDSS, Burlesque, Gig rates, Sashi's piercings, Sex shows on Rakkasah Fest stage, God Bellydanced, Sima Bina, Devi Ja's passing, Jamie Miller's Passing, BDSS reviews and Mile's reponse, Michelle and Sandra's Adventures, Turkish Baths, Muslim Cartoons, Working together, Review of Shareen El Safy's DVD, Spokane's Festival Coverage, Articles by Keti, Michael Baxter, Zar article and racism, WHEW!

Archives Pg 12- May 2005 up through October 2005
BDSS, Burlesque, Gig rates, Competing Cairo Fests, Israel Fest, Untaught Teacher

Archives Pg 11- December 2004 up through April 2005
Copeland, BDSS film and auditions, GS kicked out of Rakkasah, Zaheea's dancing for the blind, Christian dancer, the THONG, Luxor club review, Miles vs Horacio

Archives Pg 10- May 2004 through November 2004
Mena in Iraq, AWSF, Desert Dance Festival 2004, Biblical Accounts of Bellydance in Ancient Near East, Bellydance in Israel, Festival of the Nile review, Suhaila’s Sheherezade review


Archives Pg 9- December 2003 Through April 2004
Myopic view of BD by Sadira, Belly Bus, Queen of Dance Contest, Rakkasah West photo teaser, Comparing and Contrasting, Jillina DVD review, Dancing inside out

Archives Pg 8- May 2003 - November 2003
San Leandro Fest photos, Reflections on North Beach, BD and healing from sexual trauma, Dina in Dallas, Searching for your new dance teacher, BDY pageant

Archives Pg 7- October 2002 - April 2003
Najia’s Real Critic article, Back in the Holy Land, Glass dancing, Casbah and Bagdad Club, Reflections on North Beach

Archives Pg 6- March 2002 to September 2002
Vendors, Dance certification, BD and strippers, Jamila Al Wahid video review

Archives Pg 5- March 2001 - March 2002
My uncle Yousef, BDY pagent 2001, Dancer attitudes - BD gossip and back biting

Archives Pg 4- November 2000 - March 2001
Criticizing and reviewing events, “Where’s the hook when we need it?” Desert Dance Festival review

Archives Pg 3- March 2000 - October 2000
Entertainment or art? Sicilian bellydancers, Rhea, Review of Giza Academy Awards

Archives Pg 2- November 1999 - Febuary 2000 you are here
Living Goddess review, Fred Glick travel, Fanana of Bellydance

Archives Pg 1- Febuary 1999- September 1999
Shira’s advice to “Offended”, North Beach memory, George Elias & Bagdad Cafe


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