The Latin Quarter is a famous chain of nightclubs in New York, Boston, and Florida owned by Lou Walters. Lou Walters is the father of Barbara Walters.

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Rated: NR
Starring: Leslie Caron, et al.
Director: Joshua Logan

Order Fanny Today!
A remake of Marcel Pagnol's trilogy about the girlfriend of a sailor who finds herself
pregnant after
he returns to sea. She enters into a marriage of convenience with an
older man that matures into real love. Then, of course, the sailor returns. This version is
lovingly photographed, beautifully scored, and contains a newsreel and coming
attractions for 1961.

Dahlena at the Bagdad, backed by
Lemi Pasha, Vince Delgado, and Walid Shahin
early 1964

The Gilded Serpent Presents...
The North Beach Memories of

Middle Eastern dance first became popular in the Boston and New York clubs. First in the ethnic communities, then Americans, too, came out of curiosity stimulated by such things as the play, "Fanny", featuring Nejla Atesh in NY.

The Latin Quarter started featuring Belly Dancing. The New York Latin Quarter and the Variety clubs around America noticed what was happening in Paris. Then Americans also joined in. The New England night clubs had variety shows featuring bellydancers quite often. Also, in the Catskill Mountains they had regular singers, bands and dancers.

Smart people opened places for the tourists; they knew Americans would come. Greek towns sprang up (usually in run down areas with cheap rent). They didn't even fix up the places, but people came anyway, even famous people! One of the most run down places was the Egyptian Gardens in New York City. The ethnic people as well as wealthy and famous people came there.

"The Kismet", a club in Chicago was run by a Jewish man with a partner who was a woman with "The Gaslight Mailing List", which represented a prominent group of people. It opened in a trendy area, equivalent to North Beach in San Francisco. It was in the Rush street area and catered to tourists mostly. It was very much the same as it was in North Beach, before "topless/bottomless" clubs began.

What kind of people came to see Middle Eastern dance; who was in the audience?
At least one quarter of the audience was college students from the Middle East, other ethnic people, and some older people. The development of entertaiment, and the people attracted to it, were similiar to that in San Francisco.

The same thing happened in Chicago. In Chicago, Rush Street was like North Beach. They had legitimate entertainment: jazz, Dixie, singers, Vic Damone- type singers, as well as other famous singers and musicians, such as the Ama Jamal Trio, (a Chicago jazz group which was touring in San Francisco when I was there--just a few doors away)!

In San Francisco, the Middle Eastern scene started on Broadway. Italian people opened the first venues; Italians wanted to attract the tourists. At that time, North Beach was a tourist area--not a stripper area. It was hard to walk on the sidewalks in the summertime because they were so filled with tourists. The topless/bottomless craze was just coming in when I was leaving in 1965.

An agency in New York was looking for Middle Eastern dancers. They liked us because we were young and thin, while most of the good dancers were older and heavier. Princess Yasmina, and the Jamal twins worked in Europe and New York. We worked out of the same New York agency; we worked together in Chicago too.

I [Dahlena] came to San Francisco in 1962 from Los Angeles to work at "12 Adler". I went back to Southern California and gave birth to my son. From there, I went to Las Vegas, then back to San Francisco where I worked at "The Bagdad", then "Gigi's". I became pregnant again, left once more to Oregon where my daughter was born. I came back to Sam Francisco again and worked in "Gigi's". In 1965, returned on to Chicago.

Before 1962, I worked in Hollywood, with Helena Kalinotis (she did wild crazy things on stage). Jamila saw both Helena and me in Hollywood. Jamila told Yousef, who asked, "How could a blond know how to dance?" Bob Mackey and his wife, Lulu, came too. Lulu was a dancer and Bob Mackey got his start in costuming by first designing Lulu's costumes. Lulu told Jamila that I "didn't do anything on stage"! This was a compliment to my way of thinking, since the Americans were all running around the stage, "over-dancing"! We were a product of the Boston clubs. We worked in Hollywood at "The Torch Club" and "The Grecian Gardens". They played Greek, Turkish and Armeninan music there, until the Cypress war, when they refused to play Turkish music anymore. Yousef brought us both to San Francisco in 1962 to the "12 Adler".

In 1962, I worked at "12 Adler" and "Gigi's" for about thirty-five American dollars per night. The only dancer around now that was there then, on Broadway, before me was Jamila Salimpour. There were other dancers, but they aren't around now, for example, the Algerian dancers.

Perhaps Yousef opened "The Bagdad" in 1963... I remember Fadil playing on the stage there in 1964. Yousef got the musicians; his personality changed when he became a club owner! Before "The Bagdad", when he was only a musician at "12 Adler", he played the violin on stage. He would stop the music and wag his finger at me if I flirted with members of the audience!

Also there were Fadil, Vince Delgado and Lemi Pasha. Charles Shulltz (and his wife), who wrote the "Peanuts" cartoon strip was another famous fellow that hung out in the Arabic clubs, and that famous pop-artist of the day who painted little girl faces with big eyes, Walter Kean. Another lady who does artwork of dancers-Artemis Clark (I think) --made paintings of dancers; she would sketch while sitting on the balcony in "Gigi's

". You can find her listed in the San Francisco phone book under "Artemis".


In 1964 Vince Delgado played at Gigi's and/or "The Bagdad Cabaret". Sophia (Carol) was a friend of Dahlena's, from Boston. Sophia and Dahlena were neighbors, as were Jamila and Tahia, for a while upstairs at the New Rex Hotel. A lot of the performers that worked at "Gigi's" and "Bagdad" lived at different apartments in the New Rex Hotel, on Broadway. It was just across the street, toward Casa Madrid, and kitty-corner from a strip club. Below was a nice supper club. After moving out of the Rex Hotel into a nice apartment in same building as Ronnie Kerby, the drummer, at "The Bagdad", Ronnie's wife babysat for my children, even when we performed at different clubs.

The Condor was a Jazz club, and it had a piano player who told jokes and sang. They had many different entertainers touring though there. Performers on Broadway would all visit each other. Some of the clubs, one Sunday per month, had a breakfast show to which the entertainers came after working all night. They would see each other perform. On Sunday nights, each club took turns having a late show for us performers so we could see each other; they called them "Breakfast Shows". They were held at "The Condor", one at the Spanish club, one at the Arabic club, and so on.

Another person who got dancers started was Naji Baba, the very first one, actually! Jamila's student Carla still lives in the Bay Area. Carla and I worked together at "Gigi's". Who was it that came and danced on stage in her nurse's uniform? Fatima, the Algerian dancer!

Emar Gamal had an electric personality on stage. She was a bit older, also from Boston, she was Greek but setted in Boston and worked thru the agencies. Tabura worked at "Gigi's", and Dorthea ("Kismet") from Chicago worked through the agency at "Gigi's" too. Rema worked on the weekend. We all learned a lot from the Algerian dancers too. They taught us how to do more extensive floor work. We learned by watching them balancing pots on their heads. All our sword routines came from watching those Algerian girls balancing their pots! (The Cousins, Yasmin and Lido were in a show together; one was crazier than the other; she once chased Antoine through the club with a butcher knife! She was asked to leave.) This was the first time I had seen people roll around on the floor with stuff balanced on their heads; no help just their fuzzy heads!

Antoinette, a dancer who lived in Los Angeles, and I were in a show together in Las Vegas. We were both pregnant at the same time when we worked at the Bagdad. I was pregnant with my second child, Angelina. Antoinette is now the mother-in-law of dancer Sulhaila Salimpour, Jamila's daughter.

Patrick Au at Costless Imports has lots of pictures from this era: Aset (a Turkish dancer), Imar, and Dorthet for example. (Costless Imports is a well known bead and costume vendor on University Avenue in Berkeley, California.)

Cabarets and clubs always had a doorman/bouncer, a body guard but no barkers when I was there. The cover charge was about two dolloars at the door. No one danced around the tables for tip money at "The 12 Addler" or "Gigi's" or "The Bagdad" at the time I was there. [Dahlena left in 1965.] When I returned, girls were making less in wages and they were dancing around the tables for tips!

We had a union at "Gigi's" and "12 Adler" and in the beginning, at "The Bagdad". In those days they used an agency. At "Gigi's", most dancers were "on the circuit". There were more dancers later and the clubs didn't need the agency or union anymore. The pay dropped.

I really like working with the musicians at all three places I worked in North Beach. The music was always good. I really enjoyed my time there in North Beach!

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