This month has gone by very quickly and before I know it, it is time for another belly dancer. My choice on this sunny autumn morning is a very pretty and nubile Soraya Salem who I featured recently albeit with her name spelled differently. Here she is leading newly weds, Sabah and Anwar Wagdi, who hate each other and are hurling insults at one another in a funny exchange that is sadly lost on non-Arabic speakers into the main drawing room where their guests are gathered then back to the bedroom where I imagine they will be at each other’s throat instead of falling into each other’s arms. Anyhow, back to the very young Soraya and her beautiful gracile body. The film is from 1953, the golden age of Egyptian cinema, and it must be one of her very early small roles as her cinematography starts in 1954 and finishes in 1966. I absolutely love her, her movement, and her costume; and if I were to get married, which is highly unlikely, I would also want her to dance at my wedding!



This month’s belly dancer is almost as vulgar as last month’s, especially when she sticks her tongue out and Rushdi Abbaza (who married 5 times including the two greatest Egyptian dancers, Tahiya Carioca & Samia Gamal, also Sabah before she became scary!) tries to take it to put in his mouth. Yuk. Anyhow, the clip is of a very young Nagwa Fouad (before she started to look like a transvestite) dancing rather well I have to say, and being quite progressive in her movements. I particularly like how the cardboard figures of musicians and supporting dancers become animated every now and then. Perfect entertainment for a cold, wintery Sunday!



I was exchanging tweets with Heidi Leon about belly dance — she has just taken it up — and I thought I’d tell her about Nadia (actually I meant Samia, see ps below) Gamal, possibly the greatest belly dancer of her era, perhaps of all times, and my favourite. I also have a weakness for Tahiya Carioca if only for the name which always made my sisters and I giggle when we were young in Beirut. She was our reference for anything vulgar. Am not sure why. She wasn’t, as you can see from the video below. We must have been stuck up bourgeois girls.


In any case, I googled Nadia and found various links and videos. I like this one best. She is still very young and gorgeous, slim without being skinny; and as a bonus there is also Sabah in the video, also still very young and pretty.

In my days, there were two singing divas in Lebanon. Feyrouz, a heavenly voice but ugly with crooked teeth, and Sabah, a glamour puss with a sexy voice. Both are still alive and are old versions of their young selves. Feyrouz less scary than when she was young and Sabah still trying to hold on to those gorgeous looks with some help, and not from her creator! Watching Nadia and Sabah reminded me of my youth in Beirut when I hated both Arabic music and belly dancing. I only liked western pop music and to my shame, it was mostly French pop. Now, I love Omm Kulthum, Nadia Gamal, even Sabah but only when she was young and many others. As for pop music, it has been replaced by classical and opera. I wonder if I should look at myself closely in the mirror to see if I have aged like Sabah! As for gorgeous Nadia, she died quite some time ago, without I think turning into a caricature of herself. Have to check on that. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this snippet of Egyptian high life when it was gay and sophisticated.

Ps. A Lebanese friend drew my attention to the fact that the dancer I am thinking of is not Nadia but Samia and here is a video of Samia Gamal. I can’t work out if the first video is Samia or someone else who’s almost as good but called Nadia. perhaps one of you will be able to tell me.