Dumb Question, But I Have to Ask

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance, etc

I am neither steeped in one group's opinion nor do I see things from just one point of view.
Tarik and Kharmine are not even aware of what my personal experiences are, but have decided that I am narrow minded. I have been living with Arabs for abput 30 years on nearly a daily basis. They come from various countries and many go back. There have been some few who stay in the States, become citizens, or whatever, but many do not. The latest arrival from Egypt got here a year ago in September. He is pretty new to America and I am not "set in my ways" about how to think about the dance, but have listened to people from many countries, age groups and social backgrounds. For example, I have been friends with Gulf royalty and with Egyptians so poor that before they won a lottery to come here, they lived in a basement in one room with a sink but no drain pipe to the hole in the floor. Many assumptions are being made here that are way off the mark.
A'isha
 

Tarik Sultan

New member
I am neither steeped in one group's opinion nor do I see things from just one point of view.
Tarik and Kharmine are not even aware of what my personal experiences are, but have decided that I am narrow minded. I have been living with Arabs for abput 30 years on nearly a daily basis. They come from various countries and many go back. There have been some few who stay in the States, become citizens, or whatever, but many do not. The latest arrival from Egypt got here a year ago in September. He is pretty new to America and I am not "set in my ways" about how to think about the dance, but have listened to people from many countries, age groups and social backgrounds. For example, I have been friends with Gulf royalty and with Egyptians so poor that before they won a lottery to come here, they lived in a basement in one room with a sink but no drain pipe to the hole in the floor. Many assumptions are being made here that are way off the mark.
A'isha
Since I am the one who keeps saying, YOU ARE RIGHT, I AGREE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE YOU, I UNDERSTAND YOU, I KNOW WHY YOU SAY THAT, I'VE HERAD THE SAME, EXPERIENCED THE SAME. I think its quite clear to every one that I do believe you and don't think you're making anything up. All I am saying, is that not everyone sees things in the exact same way that you do. It's not that I am right and you are wrong, its that people see things from a slightly different perspective a lolt of the time and their opinions are just as legitimate since they, like your friends, are also members of the same culture.

You are the one who is insisting that somehow I am delusional nieve or unwilling to see the truth just because I say you ARE RIGHT, but on certtain points and under certain circumstances, many people see it this or that way. Instead of just saying, hey, you know what we are both right, you look for way to discredit anything I say, to the point where its just down right comical and at times rediculous. I think everyone who reads what I am saying, as always, can understand what I'm saying because its just so easy to prove what I'm saying, and I have been.

To verify the fact that a lot of people in the culture don't haggle over whether something is baladi or Sharki, just look on youtube at all the clips posted by Arabs and you will see that they label everything whether baladi or Sharki by the name belly dance. That is just how a lot of them see it and SO BIG HAIRY WHAT?! Just get out there, dance, make the people have a good time. If they like it, they will come back for more, and if they don't, they wonbt, no matter what you call is so.....
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance

Since I am the one who keeps saying, YOU ARE RIGHT, I AGREE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE YOU, I UNDERSTAND YOU, I KNOW WHY YOU SAY THAT, I'VE HERAD THE SAME, EXPERIENCED THE SAME. I think its quite clear to every one that I do believe you and don't think you're making anything up. All I am saying, is that not everyone sees things in the same way that you do. It's not that I am right and you are wrong, its that people see things from a slightly different perspective a lolt of the time and their opinions are just as legitimate since they, like your friends, are also members of the same culture.

You are the one who is insisting that somehow I am delusional nieve or unwilling to see the truth just because I say you ARE RIGHT, but on certtain points and under certain circumstances, many people see it this or that way. Instead of just saying, hey, you know what we are both right, you look for way to discredit anything I say, to the point where its just down right comical and at times rediculous. I think everyone who reads what I am saying, as always, can understand what I'm saying because its just so easy to prove what I'm saying, and I have been.

To verify the fact that a lot of people in the culture don't haggle over whether something is baladi or Sharki, just look on youtube at all the clips posted by Arabs and you will see that they label everything whether baladi or Sharki by the name belly dance. That is just how a lot of them see it and SO BIG HAIRY WHAT?! Just get out there, dance, make the people have a good time. If they like it, they will come back for more, and if they don't, they wonbt, no matter what you call is so.....

You know, there are an equal number of people, in fact many more, who do not see things the same way YOU do. It is not a matter of trying to discredit you. It is a matter of you needing to clarify that your position is not mainstream, but something that a small faction of people think about the dance. Many people, even in Arab countries, as we have said, do not know enough about professional belly dance to tell whether or not a person is doing Beledi or Belly dance, but dancers sure do. Many tmes they call everything belly dance because they are not aware that WE know the difference. And yes, as a teacher, I NEED to know the difference my students NEED to know the difference, and they can only learn that when they are made aware that there IS a difference. That can not be shoved aside and taken for granted.
A'isha
 

Kharmine

New member
...All I am saying, is that not everyone sees things in the exact same way that you do. It's not that I am right and you are wrong, its that people see things from a slightly different perspective a lolt of the time and their opinions are just as legitimate since they, like your friends, are also members of the same culture....
Tariq, as someone who's been through this I recommend that you cease trying to reason with the unreasonable. Your words will continue to be twisted, taken out of context and used against you no matter how sweet you try to make 'em. As tolerant as you're trying to be, there are those for whom tolerance is nothing more than part of the threat you pose.

Unfortunately, for your threat level to diminish for some folks you'd either have to capitulate and stop speaking out on what you know is true -- or vanish from the forum. Fortunately, that's not a lot of folks you have to think about, or even pay any mind to.

Even more good news: The majority of regulars on the forum are smart enough to know that what you are saying makes great good sense. And you have a very good rep on this here forum.

When it comes to researching the dance and its origins, you've walked the walk -- anybody can read Salome's interview with you and know that -- which gives you the right to talk the talk.

Don't waste the talk on those who will not hear. You can ignore those folks quite easily -- I do it all the time -- and rest assured that there are many more people here who appreciate you and what you have to say.
 
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Tarik Sultan

New member
You know, there are an equal number of people, in fact many more, who do not see things the same way YOU do. It is not a matter of trying to discredit you. It is a matter of you needing to clarify that your position is not mainstream, but something that a small faction of people think about the dance. Many people, even in Arab countries, as we have said, do not know enough about professional belly dance to tell whether or not a person is doing Beledi or Belly dance, but dancers sure do. Many tmes they call everything belly dance because they are not aware that WE know the difference. And yes, as a teacher, I NEED to know the difference my students NEED to know the difference, and they can only learn that when they are made aware that there IS a difference. That can not be shoved aside and taken for granted.
A'isha
And once again, there isn't anything you have said to me that I don't know. The only thing I would say is that since no one has taken a poll you cannot say that the perspectives I have described are a minority faction, or that they are less mainstream. It is an opinion that a large amount of people share. As I said waay before, we even see it in music, Shik Shak Shok, Ta'al wa nurus Baladi, come lets dance baladi, so why was Sohair Zaki dancing Sharki to that song? Another song sung by Farid Al Atrash in a movie and danced by Samia Gamal, Ana baheb raks il Baladi, ana baheb raks il Baladi, while Samia is dancing Sharki. Soo....with so many examples like this....I think its pretty obvious to EVERYONE, that this is not a minority opinion.

As far as lay people not being knowledgeable about the dance but dancer sure do. Rakia is very close to Morocco and consults her frequently for advise. She knowes the woman knows her stuff and from speaking with me, she knows I know my stuff too. She considers Tito's dance Sharki. She doesn't like him, but she still acknowledges that its sharki. Aidia Nour is a dancer, when I'm speaking to her in Arabic and I'm using the words Baladi and Sharki in their propper context, she knows I know the difference. I asked her, are there any men who dance Sharki in Cairo, she said NO. I asked her are there any men who dance Sharki in Egypt, she pointed to Tito and said Huwa tamil Raks Sharki, lekin ana bahebu leanu huwa raks zay RAGIL, mish zay Khawal="He dances Sharki, but I love him because he dances like a man, not like a gay. So would you really have me believe that Egyptian dancers like Aida, Lucy, Nadia HAmdi, RAkia Hassan don't know what they are talking about? That only you know what you are talking about because you "Arab" friends told you this or that, but my "arab" friends and associates, many of whom are influential personalities in the Dance world in Cairo, don't know what they are talking about? That simply makes no sense whatsoever.

This has gotten to the point where your protestations are a bit like arguing over haw many angels can fit on the head of a pin. WHO CARES how many people believe which way or not. The point is There are several views not just one. Even if you can quantify it and say most people believe this, or most people believe that, doesn't matter. What matters is that if you are going to be culturally accurate, you must acknowledge the very real fact that there are many ways of looking at the same picture and no one, not even your special arab friends from everywhere under the sun and behind God's back know everything about everything. I for one know I certainly don't which is why I never claim to be anything but a life long student and if and when I receive knowledge that shows me something I once believed is wrong, I change it.

I'll end this post by quoting Galileo after he was forced by the Catholic Church to recent his findings that the Earth moves around the sun: "The Earth is the center of the Universe......but still it moves". ...So much for the majority view.
 
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Tarik Sultan

New member
Tariq, as someone who's been through this I recommend that you cease trying to reason with the unreasonable. Your words will continue to be twisted, taken out of context and used against you no matter how sweet you try to make 'em. As tolerant as you're trying to be, there are those for whom tolerance is nothing more than part of the threat you pose.

Unfortunately, for your threat level to diminish for some folks you'd either have to capitulate and stop speaking out on what you know is true -- or vanish from the forum. Fortunately, that's not a lot of folks you have to think about, or even pay any mind to.

Even more good news: The majority of regulars on the forum are smart enough to know that what you are saying makes great good sense. And you have a very good rep on this here forum.

When it comes to researching the dance and its origins, you've walked the walk -- anybody can read Salome's interview with you and know that -- which gives you the right to talk the talk.

Don't waste the talk on those who will not hear. You can ignore those folks quite easily -- I do it all the time -- and rest assured that there are many more people here who appreciate you and what you have to say.
I do realize that. Its a shame, but like you said, I think most people have the god given common sense to know common sense when they, hear, read and see it. I think the great mystery on everyone's mind is why do I bother. I bother because it shows something very important in life. There are always differing points of view. Just look at the historical record, the greatest sientific, artistic, social and humanistic revolutions never came as a result of sticking to THE MAJORITY VIEW. If that were the case, women would still not have the vote, Christians would still be thrown to the Lions, witches would still be being burned at the stake, and I would still be getting told NIGGER GET TO THE BACK OF TE BUS! so If I look in the face of "The majority view" sometimes and laugh, its because the majority view has never been on the side of humanistic, visionary, scientific revoluitionary, feminist, balck, witches, who happen to be good christians. :think:Can all thpse things go together?

Anyway, yeah you know what I mean and you are right. I do need to pack it in now. However, being who and what I am, I will always speak truth to bullshit, or the other side of the truth to half truth or even 1/4 truth to 3/4 truth because in the end the rest of the people around me will benifit by having the WHOLE TRUTH. Some people feel threathened by that, buit that's their problem.

Blessing oh fellow delusional one;)
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance

What I notice here is that it is not me who goes around referring to my fellow forum members as delusional, or narrow minded or inflexible or incapable of hearing what others have to say. You might note that it's you two who call names, get derogatory about others and generally get upset because I do not happen to agree with you. I also don't make silly little catty remarks about either one of you on this list, or resort to childish commentary about what I see as YOUR personal character flaws. So, think about that for awhile and wonder if you are pointing fingers in the wrong direction. You both might want to really look at the fact that it takes both sides to have this discussion and that I, for the most part, have at least tried to treat you both as intelligent people who have a different point of view.... without resorting to snotty little asides.
A'isha Azar
 

cathy

New member
I know the difference between Sharki and Beledi. I do not see them as being nearly as widely separated as Saidi and Sharki, or Debke and Sharki, or Ardeh and Sharki. But as previously stated I don't see either as having a "feminine essence."

I haven't been to the Middle East nor do I have a large circle of Arab friends to consult but I will say that the ideas being attributed to Middle Easterners that all female dancers are prostitutes, all male dancers are gay prostitutes, and Arabs don't care whether a dancer is any good, only whether she or he is beautiful and sexy, and compliment her only to try to get sex, are all distasteful, even if there is a measure of historical/cultural truth in them.

I love the dance itself (Sharki AND Beledi) and I think everyone everywhere can do, enjoy, and respect it in and of itself. We can acknowledge the cultural realities from which the dance originated (and still exists) without embracing the other values attached to it. I feel pretty confident that most people on this forum are not prostitutes nor do they want to be taken for prostitutes. And I hope most would rather get legitimate compliments on their dance skills rather than come-ons.

Good music came from slave colonies too. We can enjoy that music, understand the cultural context, and still abhor slavery.

Cathy
 
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Aisha Azar

New member
Dance

I know the difference between Sharki and Beledi. I do not see them as being nearly as widely separated as Saidi and Sharki, or Debke and Sharki, or Ardeh and Sharki. But as previously stated I don't see either as having a "feminine essence."

I haven't been to the Middle East nor do I have a large circle of Arab friends to consult but I will say that the ideas being attributed to Middle Easterners that all female dancers are prostitutes, all male dancers are gay prostitutes, and Arabs don't care whether a dancer is any good, only whether she or he is beautiful and sexy, and compliment her only to try to get sex, are all distasteful, even if there is a measure of historical/cultural truth in them.

I love the dance itself (Sharki AND Beledi) and I think everyone everywhere can do, enjoy, and respect it in and of itself. We can acknowledge the cultural realities from which the dance originated (and still exists) without embracing the other values attached to it. I feel pretty confident that most people on this forum are not prostitutes nor do they want to be taken for prostitutes. And I hope most would rather get legitimate compliments on their dance skills rather than come-ons.

Good music came from slave colonies too. We can enjoy that music, understand the cultural context, and still abhor slavery.

Cathy
Dear Cathy,
I do not think that I have ever said that I embrace these truths about how the people feel about the dance. But... my feelings do not enter into it, just as my feelings about my grandson's great-great grandfather being a slave do not have any effect on his heritage. It is what it is and it has nothing at all to do with how I might feel. My feelings do not rule the situation. I know that I am not a whore, nor are most other dancers, at least in the West. I know that all men who dance are not gay. I have not been talking very much about my own feelings, but about what I have heard, witnessed, and continue to hear and see for the past 33 years.
This dance is NOT all about what I want. There are things that go on outside MY needs and desires for the dance and for myself and my students. To deny those things is to deny part of the cultural heritage of the dance itself. I can find those prejudices and ugly things as distasteful as I want, but that does not change the realities of the dance and its cultural environment. When I write about the dance here, what I think and feel does not enter into it unless I specifically state that these are MY opinions, which I do when that is what I am relating. Most of the time, I report what has been told to me by natives, or some experience that I have had or seen others have. I have not made it my personal mission to be contrary, but I also feel that we have to look this dance square in the eye and take the good and bad together if we are ever to get a real picture of it. These experiences are just too different from what Tarik reports for me to just take what he says as whole cloth, especially in light of what I know firsthand about how Arabs are with people they do not know well; how far they will look the other way in order to make a guest comfortable, how far they will go when talking in order to make nice. I believe that Tarik legitimately believes what he believes. It is simply that in 33 years, i have seen a very different picture from the one he paints about the acceptance of men as belly dancers in the Middle East. I also feel that since you are a student of his, you may be too easily willing to look at things from his view without taking in the whole picture. (My students are often the same and I have to remind them that this view is different from other peoples'.)
I wish I felt that I have the luxury of saying that I don't like this or that, and then ignoring it. For me, being a Middle Eastern dancer is like being in a marriage. I have been married to the same man for 35 years, and dancing for 33, so I am capable of looking at the warts and still seeing the beauty beneath them in both cases. However, to deny the warts is to deny a whole heritage of what makes the dance (and my marriage, for that matter!!) what it is. Both are strong partly because of what they have weathered.
Again, this is not now, nor has it ever been about ME. If you are willing to REALLY LOOK at what I have been saying, you will see that very clearly.
One more thing. I have never stated that ALL compliments are insincere, or that there is absolutely no way that any compliment Tarik received was phony, but in general the idea is that one should be skeptical, because usually there IS an ulterior motive when a belly dancer gets a compliment from a Young Arab male. Believe me, it would be nice to be able to fully believe all of the nice things I have heard from Arab guys over the years, but it is wise to take it all with a very large grain of sea salt. If you don't believe me, ask any Arab that you know well. Both Tarik and I can only speak in generalities and I would think that most people on the forum would recognize that.
Regards,
A'isha
 
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Tarik Sultan

New member
What I notice here is that it is not me who goes around referring to my fellow forum members as delusional, or narrow minded or inflexible or incapable of hearing what others have to say. You might note that it's you two who call names, get derogatory about others and generally get upset because I do not happen to agree with you. I also don't make silly little catty remarks about either one of you on this list, or resort to childish commentary about what I see as YOUR personal character flaws. So, think about that for awhile and wonder if you are pointing fingers in the wrong direction. You both might want to really look at the fact that it takes both sides to have this discussion and that I, for the most part, have at least tried to treat you both as intelligent people who have a different point of view.... without resorting to snotty little asides.
A'isha Azar
Its not what you say, but how you say it and the way you go about twisting things and making insinuations. For the record, I do respect you on a lot of levels and there are things that I do like about you, that has not changed. However, I do feel that there are certain things that you are just as stubbern as a mule about seeing.

I know I can be sarcastic and irreverant, it usually comes out when I feel that all apeals at logic are hopeless. There is nothing you said to are about me that has made me angrey. Amused, astonished, surprised at the way you can distort even the tinyest most innocent situation into something sleazy, perhaps, but not angrey. Frustrated that my attempts to communicate and be understood on even the tiniest point, perhaps, but not angry. Passionet about the way I feel about certain things, but not angrey.

If I wanted to feel insulted, I could have jumped on any number of things you said to me which were demaning or depreciating. I'm not an Oriental Dancer, which implies that after 20yrs of experience, I don't know what I'm doing, which by extension would mean that I'm not a good teacher-that could have been insulting. The fact that MY Arab friends are not really my friends because they won't be honest with me -which implies that if they pay me a compliment, they really don't mean it. That if an Arab man pays me a compliment he must be after a slice of ass - Which implies that my dancing is obviously not on the artistic or skill level that I think it is, because no real Arab man could ever find my dancing entertaining.

The diffeence between us, is that I don't beat around the bush, I let you know exactly how I feel. As the situations above show, you are not all homemead bread and appl pie. You do have a very cutting side to you and you use it liberally when you feel like it, but you do it with a side step rather than doing it directly. I'm more to the point. If I think your being rediculous, I'll let you know, usually in a humerous and sarcastic way. If I think a situation is unfair, I'll tell it like it is, even if it means stepping over the threshold of propriety to say 'DAS SOME BUWLLSHIT!

Sorry if I offend, but honestly, the only reason I have continued as long as I have, is because you are unwilling to just say, okay, I see you point, PERIOD. Instead, you have to attempt to belittle them in any way you can, It's the minority view, they're not sincer, that doesn't mean anything, you're being overly inclusive yatta, yatta, yatta. Sweetie, this is a public forum and other people have pionts of view to share, perspectives and experiences, which are just as valid and valuable to any discussion as your own, the validity of which I have always and still do acknowledge. But what I will not abide from you, or anyone else is anything that even hints at an attitude that ONLY YOU know the whole truth, because ONLY YOU have enough knowledge or insight to speak on any given topic as it concerns dance or culture in the Arab World. You want to claim that crown for yourself based on the special relationship ypu have with you "Arab friends", who for some reason are more knowledgeable about all things dance, than even the leading dance authorities and performers in Cairo. With all due respect 'DAS SOME....just refere to the above. and for the record my use of full caps is not an expression of anger, I use them to emphasize a point.

Over and out.
 

Tarik Sultan

New member
Aha moment

A'isha:These experiences are just too different from what Tarik reports for me to just take what he says as whole cloth, especially in light of what I know firsthand about how Arabs are with people they do not know well; how far they will look the other way in order to make a guest comfortable, how far they will go when talking in order to make nice. I believe that Tarik legitimately believes what he believes. It is simply that in 33 years, i have seen a very different picture from the one he paints about the acceptance of men as belly dancers in the Middle East. I also feel that since you are a student of his, you may be too easily willing to look at things from his view without taking in the whole picture. (My students are often the same and I have to remind them that this view is different from other peoples'.)

Tarik: So that's it. You think I'm trying to paint a picture that says male dfancers in the Middle East are accepted? For the record, is that what I think, that I as a man am accepted? HEEEELLLLL NOOOOO I DON'T! Why do you think Tito is dancing in Sharam and not Cairo, why do you think that as good as she thinks I am, Rakia's never told me I should come to Cairo to become a dancer. :wall: You see, this is just what I mean about the way you spin things. How could I possibly say, I AGREE WITH YOU, I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE SAYING, I KNOW WHY YOU SAY THAT, if I haven't heard and experienced and continue to hear and experience the exact same things you do? I am just ading that with certian things, I'm yelling this time, CERTAIN THINGS, get it? CEEERRRRTAIIIN THIIIINNNNGS - a lot of people have a different point of view, not everyone, just A LOOOOT OF PEEEOPLEEE, NOOOOOT EEEVEEERYYY OOOONNNNEEE! It still reflects a reality that exists and I am telling the truth that that alternative view exists.

Yes, NAdia Hamdi considers me an ORiental dancer and not a baladi dancer. How do I know, because she was the one who helped me with my concept of my Baladi dance with the Shisha. She explained to me what the differences were. What was the difference in the way the street dancers danced, from upscale night club dancers, from the ordinary people in the streets. She is the one whoe told me such a thing as the Shisha wouldn't go in an oriental dance, that's would be more of a Baladi thing. Further more, as much as she liked my dancing, she was clear as crystal and to the point that as a performer, I would not be accepted in Egypt. So What is it that you think I don't know? I also see that even girls who litterally only took three classes don't have an air for the music, nor get the same amount of applause from an audience as I do are working a hell of a lot more than I am, so what don't you think I don't know? I have had countless times, the owners of Arab establishments tell me they would love to hire me because they think I'm a great dancer. They come to see me whenever I have a show somewhere, but they don't think their male customers would like it and unfortunately the majority of their audience is male. So, What don't I know? This is an example of what I find annoying when it comes to speaking with you. That I can over and over and over again tell you yes you are right on this point, yes, I have experienced that too, yes I have heard that too, and you still think I don't know how things stand just because I mention the fact that for example, a lot of people don't differentiate betwen Balad and Sharki, or that the Egyptians I have encountered, who hire me to dance at their weddings, parties galas, and come to my shows, who tell me why they like my dancing, must be "being polite". Well if being "polite", means more gigs, then HELL BE MORE POLITE!

What I relate about the level of acceptance I receive as a male dancer is what people have told me they like about my dancing. When I spoke to RAkia, she was very blunt about it, she does not like to see a guy acting sweet and sassy on stage like a woman, no matter how good he dances. When she see's a man, she wants to see someone who projects the image of manliness. What she liked about my dancing was that I do this. Does she think I would find acceptance or work in Cairo, I'll tell you what she said to me, THIS WILL NEVER BE ACCEPTED IN CAIRO! I think that's pretty clear don't you? I have never implied otherwise.

Now the fact is that Tito, does not work in Cairo, for MANY REASONS, but he does work in Sharam. Is he accepted by the nightclub establishment in Cairo, HELL NO! Does that mean that all Egyptians hate him? NO. Just judging from the responses from Egyptians to my clip of him, they either love him or hate him. I've received more positive than negative comments from them though. That a lot of people love his show is evident that they go to Sharam to see him dance and many of them, like the guy I overheard go back more than once. So yes, a lpt of people hate the idea of a man dancing, but because he is dancing, and dancing very well, people have gotten the chance to see him and some hate his guts like there's no tomorrow and others can't get enough of him. If you are going to gauge the reaction to male dancers in that society, then you have to take all these details into consideration to get the full and accurate picture. Just looking at the dissenters is not accurate, just looking at the supporters is not accurate, looking at both sides, as well as the context within which he performs, does!

Like wise, when it comes to the success or level of acceptance I have gotten from Arabs or Middle Easterners in general, the same applies. Does everyone like my dancing? I know for a fact they don't because they have told me to my face, many, many times and they didn't give a damn about my felings. That however, does not negate the fact that a lot of them do. Do they like male dancers in general? I think it would be dishonest to say that, since to the best of their knowledge, I'm the only one they know of. Just like because people liked Nat King Cole didn't mean they loved all Balck people. If they see another male dancer and he's good, they may like him too, or they may not, who knows.

So I hope this last rant has finally opened your eyes to what i am really saying and believe on this issue. However, given prior history, I doubt it. Hey, do something nice, SURPRISE ME!
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Whatever

And once again, you make it all about YOU, rather than taking a look at the long view. YOU are insulted when I say that Arabs are usually after a piece of ass if they approach a dancer. I do not "twist things or make insinuations" Instead I make a statement in general, that YOU take as meaning YOU, rather than looking the whole picture.
I am not sure what you mean about distorting something into something sleazy. If you are referring to the pick-up thing. I do not really consider that to be sleazy behavior. If you do, that's YOUR issue, not mine. I consider that a thing where boys will be boys and it is not offensive or sleazy to me, just suspect when it comes to handing out compliments to dancers. And yes, forgive me for being so very bold, brash and seemingly to take the theirword to heart, but I do indeed trust my Arab friends to know and understand their own cultures. Whether I like what they know is another story that has no relevance here. I know that you know Arabs also, but sometimes it seems to me that YOU twist things to suit your own agenda, which is legitimizing male belly dance at all costs, regardless of what the realities are. Since I see it as legitimate already within the boundaries of the meaning and purpose of the dance as it was developed from folkloric dance and other environmental elements, I do not have to struggle to accept its legitimacy as. I never have to refer to your view as "bullshit" or call you narrow minded just because you do not see things the same way as me.
There are also things that I consider YOU to be stubborn about. It is not that I do not see your point, I just happen to disagree with you presenting it as a general Arab attitude, and since THAT seems to be the real problem, there is nothing I can say that will fix that for you. I find it really weird that you have continued to discuss this with me just so that I will eventually say that I see your point?? Since I am obviously just too stuck-up, too off base, too full of bullshit to deal with, why do you bother? For me, I am arguing points where I have seen and heard things that do not mesh, as a general rule, with what you are saying. THAT is why I am still here. I see that there is discrepancy in our views that has little to do with me, but that can potentially lead to some real misunderstanding of the dance as it is viewed in Arab countries, for students and observers. It is not about ME. It does not matter whether I think you're stubborn, or self serving or any other thing I might think about YOU personally. You keep taking as a personal affront things that are general. You keep leading it all back to YOU. This is not about YOU. It is about the dance and Arab perceptions of the dance.
I have my own ideas about whether or not you are belly dancer. Clearly I would be very hypocritical if I thought that someone who believes that belly dance is a masculine art form, performs it from that viewpoint, etc, IS a bellydancer, since my whole premise is that this is a feminine essenced dance form. I believe you are a good Beledi dancer. Since you do not seem to see a difference between the two, how is that an insult to you? I would think you would have seen it as a compliment. I have also never said that your Arab friends are not your friends; only said that it takes a long time to become friends with Arabs and that many people will tell you what you want to hear because that is the socially right thing to do; a thing that you seem to ignore. I have the same thing happen to me all the time, so I know it is true. If you look, you will see that I did not even mean specifically YOU. You seem always to relate this whole issue back to Tarik, rather than seeing the general situation. "Real Arab men" might find anyone's dancing entertaining. I have also seen them walk out in droves on some very great male dancers; their loss. I have also seen the looks on their faces and heard their comments when they stay. Among them very few are accepting of male dancers, whether or not you are willing to acknowledge that. This does not mean NO males like male dancers, just that most do not. We both can only speak in generalities, as I have said practically every time you try to relate it all back to YOU. Most Arab males and for that matter women, think I'm for sale, too. The difference is that I accept that and see it as a cultural reality of the dance instead of getting all bent out of shape if someone say it to me. It's what us girl belly dancers deal with all the time so get used to it. And that WAS a snotty comment on purpose.
A'isha


PS: This post was written at the same time you were writing your last post, so I did not get to read it before I wrote the above. I do appreciate that you are saying in this last post,that your viewpoint is not the general viewpoint of the populace. You have really not said that before in spite of the fact that your have said you see my points. Perhaps we are finally coming closer to seeing the way the other person views these issues.
 
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Tarik Sultan

New member
How To End This Conversation

Simple. A short statement like, "This is my perspective based on my experiences and observations, but I understand your point of view as well."

Such a stament allows one to retain the integrity and validity of their point of view, which does not invalidate the point of view of the other party. Its what is called a win win situation in the art of effective communication. The moment you begin to attemt to qualify or quantify the experience of the other party by shrugging it off as yeah but that's only the view of a few people, you force the other party to write long annoying letters full of sarcasm and snotty comments because they are tired of not being heard after trying to explain in great agonizing detail.

For the record A'isha. I DO ACKNOWLEDGE AND RESPECT YOUR EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE and even though it doesn't seem like it, there is a lot that I genuinely do admire about you. On certain issues I do think you are narrow minded and just as stubborn as any barn yard animal....because you are, but that does not negate your positive qualities.

You are still the same person i defended to the hilt when she was attacked by the Coptic Nazi from hell, and the same person I have compliments and felt honored to count as a collegue because in the end, we both want the same thing for the dance. But realizes that like now, there are bound to be times when we dissagree. For myself, I" would hope that instead of trying to discredit or invalidate me, you listen with objectivity to see the whole truth of what I am saying. I may be 10yrs shy of you in this dance, but thsat does not mean that I do not know what I know, haven't sen what I have seen, heard what I have heard, or experience what I have experienced. They may be slightly different than what you have seen heard and experienced, but they are just as real, valid and true none theless. And in the end, that's all it means, I have experienced some thing different. Not that its better, or more true than you won, just that it is different and just as true and real.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance, etc.

Simple. A short statement like, "This is my perspective based on my experiences and observations, but I understand your point of view as well."

Such a stament allows one to retain the integrity and validity of their point of view, which does not invalidate the point of view of the other party. Its what is called a win win situation in the art of effective communication. The moment you begin to attemt to qualify or quantify the experience of the other party by shrugging it off as yeah but that's only the view of a few people, you force the other party to write long annoying letters full of sarcasm and snotty comments because they are tired of not being heard after trying to explain in great agonizing detail.

For the record A'isha. I DO ACKNOWLEDGE AND RESPECT YOUR EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE and even though it doesn't seem like it, there is a lot that I genuinely do admire about you. On certain issues I do think you are narrow minded and just as stubborn as any barn yard animal....because you are, but that does not negate your positive qualities.

You are still the same person i defended to the hilt when she was attacked by the Coptic Nazi from hell, and the same person I have compliments and felt honored to count as a collegue because in the end, we both want the same thing for the dance. But realizes that like now, there are bound to be times when we dissagree. For myself, I" would hope that instead of trying to discredit or invalidate me, you listen with objectivity to see the whole truth of what I am saying. I may be 10yrs shy of you in this dance, but thsat does not mean that I do not know what I know, haven't sen what I have seen, heard what I have heard, or experience what I have experienced. They may be slightly different than what you have seen heard and experienced, but they are just as real, valid and true none theless. And in the end, that's all it means, I have experienced some thing different. Not that its better, or more true than you won, just that it is different and just as true and real.
Tarik,
When it is my opinion, I have stated so. Much of what I say is NOT my opinion, but I have certainly used words like "in general"?, "usually", etc., as qualifiers for what I write about. I do not think of myself as THE big authority on everything Arab, but neither am I a person who does not know the situation of males and females belly dancing. In most cases, I rarely even state my own feelings and opinions, which at times differ greatly from what I relate in forums unless I specifically say I am speaking my opinion.
If you CHOOSE to write "long, annoying letters full of snotty comments" please do not foist that off onto me. That is your decision. I have refrained many, many times when I could have gotten very ugly about it. I usually try to be polite, stick to the subject and go out of my way not to refer to others' personal characteristics that bug the hell out of me. I am not always successful but I try really, really hard.
Frankly, until you qualified your statement by saying that your thinking on the subject was not the general or popular view of what the dance is, in countries of origin, I did not find your point valid, so there was no way for me to feel okay about giving it validation. I was left with the impression that you were saying that male dancing is generally accepted, that it is a male essenced dance even if it is seen as female work, etc. Your agreement with some of my statements made no sense to me in that you had not clearly stated that there are some people who see the dance as fine for males, but that the general consensus does not lean that way. I was not trying to invalidate YOU, I was trying to say that this is simply NOT the way this issue of males dancing is generally seen in the Arab world. It had nothing to do with YOU. ( This is one thing that becomes frustrating for me in our conversations. ) We can all only speak in generalities. I did not hear you talking very much about any negative responses you get for being a male, so I was left with an unbalanced impression of what you meant.
Now that I understand that you are fully aware that this is a minority viewpoint and stating it as so, I am easily in agreement with you on some of your points. I am very used to holding and attempting to defend the minority viewpoint and can totally relate!!
Regards,
A'isha
 

Tarik Sultan

New member
A'isha: PS: This post was written at the same time you were writing your last post, so I did not get to read it before I wrote the above. I do appreciate that you are saying in this last post,that your viewpoint is not the general viewpoint of the populace. You have really not said that before in spite of the fact that your have said you see my points. Perhaps we are finally coming closer to seeing the way the other person views these issues.[/QUOTE]

Tarik: Well its about time God damn it! s for your snotty comment, loved it, have gotten use to it a long time ago. As for taking things personal and things being general, they intertwine, which is why I keep coming back to myself. Since there are so few of us out there, for the sake of the contexts I'm speaking in, I have to come back to myself. For example, Rakia's comments, she told me how she feels about the subject in general and why she can accept my dancing, but it would not be accepted in Cairo. So right there we've gone from the general to the personal to the general again.

As for your concerns that I not present a distorted image of the acceptance of male dancers in that society, no need to fear. As I've been sayimg all along, the situation is what it is. However, the thing about people not wanting to see men act womanly is a general sentiment, likeing the fact that I don't act that way, brings it back to the personal.

Most people in Egypt will find the idea strange because to them its a woman's job. I didn't see the need to be any more specific than that because it sort of speaks for itself. With the issue of male dancers, no one is going to wake up one day and say "You know what? I want to see a malke dancer". People don't ask for what they don't know exists. for it to gain acceptance, there has to be visability. They have to see one first and he has to be good in a way that tey consider good, meaning he has to in someway reflect in the dance something they can relate to and recognize as having a spirit of their cultural character. Then and only then will an audience begin to grow. Tito has been able to do that. Does he have 100% acceptance? No, Its still too new, and he is still too few.

For it to gain accpetance, it has to grow. There have to be more like him coming down the pike and there has to be enough customer support. Only then will the clubs in Cairo take note and invite them in. It hasn't reached that water shed moment yet, but Tito's success is showing that the potential is there. Like I said before, whether or not that does indeed happen, only time will tell. So that's where things stand concerning male dancers over there at the moment.

Reagarding male dancers over here, in the West, some have gained quite an acceptance in their communities. Amir Thalib has a very strong following in the Arab community in Argentina, however, once again, no one went out looking for him. He went out and did his thing, people saw it and they liked what they saw. Getting back to the personal, my experience has been that the majority of the people who have seen me, liked me. Does it mean everyone who clapps for me or even gets up and dances with me supports me, no. From time to time this happens out of a spirit of mockery and I know the difference between the two. I either turn the situation to my advantage, or I move on because the fact is, there are always far more people in the room who do like my show. I have had all types of reactions, good, bad, and mixed. What that tells me beyond their feelings about me personally, is their feelings about the situaition in general. Its a complex issue, and I have merely been attempting to reflect that complexity. If I use myself as reference, its not to toot my own horn, but out of necessity since there are so few of us out there. In New York, at the moment, I'm the only one who is working regularly and making a full time living at it. I wish that were not the case, but that is why I have to keep coming back to myself. I'm the ugly duckiling who hasn't yet found the fellow flock of swans, or should I say, they haven't been hatched yet.

I am well aware of it and also aware of the fact that no matter how many male dancers existed prior to the 20th century, its a history that has been erased from the memories of most Egyptians, therefore with Raks Sharki, in the 21st century, we are sort of reinventing the wheel. What has probably complicated things is the fact that in addition to this, we've been simultainiously discussing other issues. However, as I've been saying, I am fully aware of the situation as it exists at present by the culture. If things were the way I would like them to be, I would be working in Cairo and wouldn't have time for this, (who are we kidding, I'd probably try to start a social revolution on some issue and get kicked out). Like you, I base what I say, not on what I want or I wish, but on what I have seen and know to exist in the culture. The fact that people like my dancing does not negate the fact that there would be a lot of people who would freak out over it. I think its my conviction which gives the impression I am anaware of this. I'm just stubborn, not unaware. As the underdog, I have to be as does any male dancer. Or any artist who goes against the grain of convention. When Badia put girls on stage in those outfits she was creating a scandal. I'm sure she heard a lot more nastier things said to and about her than either one of us will have to endure. The point is, like a mule, she stuck to her guns and that is why we are even having this conversation. Just like Tito, who can only work outside of Cairo, there was a time when Oriental Dancers were not permitted to perform in the city of Cairo and were thus forced to relocate waaaay out in Giza on the Pyramid road. The city has since grown to surround it, but that does not change the history that once upon a time, this sort of entertainment had faced very stiff dissaproval from the majority culture and that to this day, there are significant numbers of people who find it haram and would ban it altogether if they could. The sitaution we as dancers face within that society is a very complex one indeed.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Dance, etc.

Dear Tarik,
Yes, dancers, regardless of gender, do have very complex societal situations in which they do their work.
Regards,
A'isha
 

Kharmine

New member
Tariq, there's a Biblical proverb about not offering pearls to swine that is appropriate to remember here. :pray:

All your attempts to be reasonable and fair, to explain clearly and respectfully, to bend over backward, to even be helpful and mindful of your regard for others, are not being reciprocated with any graciousness by those you are hoping to reach common ground with on this issue -- and will not be so long as you don't capitulate.

I speak from experience, here and elsewhere. :wall:

Truth is -- whether we are talking about issues of academia, science, religion, politics or the arts -- someone claiming to be an expert, rightly or not, puts him/herself on a pedestal. The risk of doing so is that there will always be others who have quite different experiences and observations that may appear to challenge his/her position. The pedestal may then feel a tad wobbly.

A confident and well-balanced expert will use the opportunity to expand his/her own knowledge and will admit that he/she is really still a student, too -- advanced, but still learning. He/she will acknowledge that he/she may have a few pieces of the puzzle, but not all, and other pieces are welcomed from others outside their own circle to help form a more complete picture.

The more threatened an insecure expert feels, the harder he/she will work to undermine an perceived challenger so others will not regard them as being on the same level of credibility and respect. The more threatened an expert feels, the more he/she may dig in his/her heels and insist that he/she already has all the relevant pieces and needs no more. The picture is already complete and needs no correction or addition, now or ever. :mad:

And when an insecure expert starts spitting scorn and insisting that the challenger can't be trusted to know for sure what he experienced and any attempt to defend what he knows is, therefore, just being insulting to the expert -- well, at this point, you're in someone's Twilight Zone and you need to exit to a healthier destination. :rolleyes:

We're always gonna meet folks like this. Best to ignore 'em, get off the threads they're hammering on, don't even read their posts, and move on. I, for one, am moving off this thread as it's getting pointless. :whistle:
 
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Aisha Azar

New member
Dance, etc.

Tariq, there's a Biblical proverb about not offering pearls to swine that is appropriate to remember here. :pray:

All your attempts to be reasonable and fair, to explain clearly and respectfully, to bend over backward, to even be helpful and mindful of your regard for others, are not being reciprocated with any graciousness by those you are hoping to reach common ground with on this issue -- and will not be so long as you don't capitulate.

I speak from experience, here and elsewhere. :wall:

Truth is -- whether we are talking about issues of academia, science, religion, politics or the arts -- someone claiming to be an expert, rightly or not, puts him/herself on a pedestal. The risk of doing so is that there will always be others who have quite different experiences and observations that may appear to challenge his/her position. The pedestal may then feel a tad wobbly.

A confident and well-balanced expert will use the opportunity to expand his/her own knowledge and will admit that he/she is really still a student, too -- advanced, but still learning. He/she will acknowledge that he/she may have a few pieces of the puzzle, but not all, and other pieces are welcomed from others outside their own circle to help form a more complete picture.

The more threatened an insecure expert feels, the harder he/she will work to undermine an perceived challenger so others will not regard them as being on the same level of credibility and respect. The more threatened an expert feels, the more he/she may dig in his/her heels and insist that he/she already has all the relevant pieces and needs no more. The picture is already complete and needs no correction or addition, now or ever. :mad:

And when an insecure expert starts spitting scorn and insisting that the challenger can't be trusted to know for sure what he experienced and any attempt to defend what he knows is, therefore, just being insulting to the expert -- well, at this point, you're in someone's Twilight Zone and you need to exit to a healthier destination. :rolleyes:

We're always gonna meet folks like this. Best to ignore 'em, get off the threads they're hammering on, don't even read their posts, and move on. I, for one, am moving off this thread as it's getting pointless. :whistle:


Yes, it certainly IS pointless to make ridiculous statements like those in the post above, where the ONLY point is to cast aspersions and hurl insults at others.
A'isha Azar
 
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