Forsoothsayer turns 23, derides Arabophiles

Posted on March 14, 2006


Last night I finally yielded to pressure and accompanied my friend S, a belly dancer and dance enthusiast, to an Arabic dance night at Gypsy Co-op on Queen West. Getting dressed, I debated whether to dress in any “themed” manner, but on trying on a red gauzy top with copious gold spangles (yes, I own such a garment) I decided that it did not sufficiently showcase my charms and went for something more obvious.
I got off the subway and having forgotten to take a transfer, was too cheap to shell out another $2.50 for the streetcar. So I walked. Residents of Toronto will know that Queen West “Soho” – as it has the audacity to call itself – is an area of outstanding sketchiness and faux bohemianism. As you walk west, you first pass chic boutiques, but then you get to tattoo parlours, shops which cater to the gay community (and the sex trade), Goth clubs etc. And Starbuckses of course. It is a neighbourhood where one might hear a teenage boy say to another, “For a crackhead, she was pretty on point,” – and indeed I did. In addition, no less than two men sexually accosted me on the street. For Canada, that is an enormous number. And no, it wasn’t because I had all my goods in the shop window.
5,391 blocks later I found the place. I liked it immediately: I love places with orange lighting and low couches and tables. The music was astronomically loud, though. There was a guy playing the 3oud and two guys on the tabla. In a few minutes the belly dancer came out. She was super hot (see picture – I leered at her large and perfectly natural breasts for some time). She really brought it – she pulled out all the stops. She danced with the veil, the 3asa, and the head candelabra. I’m pretty sure no one in Egypt has done that in decades. Her bum alone was mesmerizing. The band played old and familiar hits (to me) – I looked around to find that besides the singer, I was the only Arab person in the place. My friend pointed out to me various females who were members of her belly dance troupe – they had names like Mary and Melissa. It struck me as ridiculous that all these people who claimed to feel and love the music had no idea what was being sung. They couldn’t feel it either, as far as I could see; these other girls had a lot of technical control, but there was a certain amount of jerkiness. It wasn’t sexy (and they were all too thin).

Two other people were singing along besides me. On closer inspection, these two guys were most certainly Egyptian. They were square, they were balding, they had dress shirts tucked into their jeans, they wore glasses, they were dancing and clapping in what the Western world assuredly thinks is a gay manner (as do I). It involves waving your hands from side to side, tilting your head, and shaking your shoulders. In short, they were common-or-garden fobs. Plus they were eyeing me with that look.
I eventually, and under the influence of only one drink, went out there and shook it. I can’t dance at all, but I had fun anyway.

It is my birthday today. Twenty three years of unmitigated nerding have elapsed. The day started off with every indicia of badness, starting with the customary ill omen of losing my left contact lens in my underwear drawer. Luckily I located it, but then I went downstairs and saw the weather and went back upstairs to change my shoes. Evidently I am not conversant with the Weather Channel’s notion of “light drizzle”. I forgot my umbrella of course and as a result, water was streaming from my eyebrows by the time I boarded the bus. Even inside the bus, water was somehow dripping on me. I smelled exactly like a wet dog. Then my boyfriend called to say Happy Bithday, which I’d forgotten about, and I cheered up.
Eventually I made my way downtown to the site of my new internship, at the Immigration and Refugee Board. I won’t bore you with details, but suffice it to say that I fulfilled the following dream: in true George Costanza-like fashion, I actually….wait for it….TOOK A NAP UNDERNEATH MY DESK. Oh yes I did. It was lovely. I also pursued the usual female birthday celebratory traditions: I bought a new pair of boots, and I ate a chocolate cheesecake. I don’t even like cheesecake, but I felt like I should, you know? More celebrations forthcoming on Wednesday.