A Night of Turkish Belly Dancing – Istanbul
This was our highlight dinner evening and we were brought to a massive nightclub which obviously caters to tour groups. We were all busy chatting away on the coach and I believe it was the Hilton Hotel that we went to, but I couldn’t be sure. The entrance to the nightclub must have been through a side entrance as I really didn’t remember going through any hotel lobby. The place looked a bit on the cheap side I thought, which gave me a sinking feeling in my stomach. Entree was quickly slapped on to our tables and included a range of the usual Turkish dishes, like eggplant dip, cheese pastries, etc. The main was a meat dish and so our local guide ordered us a vegetarian dish. There was a lengthy discussion between the guide and the restaurant staff as to what could be prepared for us and it was eventually explained to us that we’d get a plate of mixed vegetables, which was fine by us. However, when the main arrived, what we ended up getting was quite something else, i.e. a plate of boiled rice with potato chips – and that was our highlight dinner!
The entertainment began with a couple of dance troups doing their regional dances, some of which were very energetic indeed. This was followed by belly dancing performance which was the best that I’ve seen in my whole life. There were three women, doing very different styles of dances. Belly dancing is a very complex dance form and to the uninitiated like myself, I couldn’t tell the difference between Egyptian, Turkish or other middle-eastern forms. Apparently, Turkish belly dancing style comprises a five part routine. The opening is fast and exciting and usually accompanied by the dancer playing zils which are Turkish finger cymbals. The second part is often a chiftetelli, which is a slow movement which lends itself to flowing veil dances, snakey arm movements, and sensual floorwork. The third song is upbeat and lively again, followed by the fourth part which is usually a fast drum solo. The concluding part is a merry piece of music, once again incorporating the use of the zils. Next time I see another show, I will know to watch out for these parts.
Unlike the belly dancing that I’ve seen before, these three girls were young, really attractive and had trim and tort bodies. They shimmied and twirled away and they were real technicians in their performance. Their movements were so fast that from where I was, it was quite impossible to get good shots. Fortunately, Tony’s got a video recording which we hope to share this with you before too long.