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Egypt Diary: First Night in Luxor (June 2014)

The Nile Valley was celebrating on the eve of the inauguration of their new president Sisi. I saw Cairo celebrations June 3 and then on June 7 I saw the celebrations in Luxor. We were staying on the west bank of Luxor at Gezira Gardens Hotel, heard the mizmar and walked over. It was a great first evening in Luxor. Video by Sahra ¹

Egypt Diary: First Night in Luxor (June 2014)

Even though I had specifically traveled to Luxor for the events surrounding the Abu al-Haggag Moulid, it was my good fortune that there were other celebrations going on as well. To make sure we would be able to observe the full Abu al-Haggag moulid we arrived a couple days early and would stay one and half days after. As politeness dictated I traveled with another person and I was very happy that my dance colleague and friend, Simone Gerstgrasser from Italy, could meet me in Luxor.

Our first day in Luxor was spent doing a couple interviews (which I will present as part of the Journey Through Egypt Dance Archive) ² and asking various people what, when and where moulid events would happen. Very few people agree on the timing of events and there is not one central source of information. This confusion was even more complicated because at least three different moulids were happening in the same week, and not everyone was aware of all of them but often speak of them interchangeably.

One event we could get information on was the two evening celebration (tonight and last night) leading up to the inauguration of the new president Sisi tomorrow morning. One big subject of conversation was a concert of a popular “Qaf” singer, Rabi el Baraka, the night before. ³ The consensus of most of those we talked to was that of disappointment, not disappointment of the quality of the show, but that he only sang for one hour. They took this short concert as an affront.

They are normally informed of the start of a concert or celebration by hearing the music, often at that point the person will start getting ready to go, make preparations for walking over, which often may include going to other homes to meet family and friends in order to walk over together. For the concert to be finished in one hour, many people arrived as the singer was finishing.

This night’s celebration included a Sa’idi mizmar band, dancing horses, a demonstration of tahtib, and then to our delight the children were encouraged to dance. Normally I am careful about filming females dancing, but many people had video cameras out in plain sight and the fathers encouraged the girls to dance.

Notes below are for video at the top of the page:

:00 The evening featured a mizmar band: with “tabl baladi” drum and three Mizmar musicians – here they sit on a “dikka” bench on a transportable stage made from a flat-bed truck.
:29 A better view of the stage, Egyptian flags and the posters advertising the occasion of the inauguration.
:43 The music changes for the horse dance. Notice the subtle direction by the rider, this is an experienced horse he doesn’t need much direction. I have seen horses respond to this music without a rider. 4 Also notice the man in the grey galabeya walking at a distance keeping a quiet control.
1:22 Tahtib demonstration; normally this is more of a contest and a Tahtib event would have other contestants waiting for their turn.
1:37 A clearer video of Tahtib, and of the children recording it on their phone video.
2:04 Girl’s dance,
2:50 a clearer video of the girls dancing. Their style is a fusion of female homestyle and of female professional performance style they may have seen in person or on TV or video.
3:13Baladi, Baladi” (“My Homeland, My Homeland”) the Egyptian national anthem (played for this occasion).


¹ My apologies for the uneven quality of filming, the only light was the strings of light bulbs and a couple strong direct spotlights.

² Journey Through Egypt Dance Archive is a monthly service that will be starting later this year. Through this service you will have access to clips directly from my research footage from over 20 years of study. You can read more about the program and sign up for the waiting list here :

³ The subject of Sa’idi “Qaf” singing, music and dance will be discussed in a future blog.

4 Video of horse dancing, an evening which also shows off the new ingenue colts and horses will be shown and discussed in a future blog.

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