I was looking at a great blog called Chroniques du Plaisir which has several features (it was my month of … or beauty of July or elegant of January) that I really like. I can’t copy it was my month of … because I am not yet adept at making photo montages. One day soon. But I thought I’d copy the idea of beauty of the month, changing it slightly and giving it a Middle Eastern slant. So, my first choice for this month is a video showing some of the best belly dancers of the black and white era (some carried on into colour films and into relative old age), including Tahiya Carioca and Samia Gamal, which I will follow up every month with a video of an individual belly dancer. I have already posted belly dance videos as a distraction from all things culinary but now it’ll become a regular feature, and a regular distraction! Hope you enjoy it.



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 As for pop music, it has been replaced by classical and opera.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.