Cairo - Wedding galore

When I returned to Cairo in February 2002 I decided to be a bit better prepared than the first time.
Especially when it came to dance matters. I did quite a bit of research and flew there with an impressive list of costume shops and other dance attractions. But there are some things you just can't plan...

I had hardly arrived at the hotel and had been pleased about the fact that it was in a quiet neighbourhood, when a big noise started in front of the building. When I heard the drums playing the Zeffa rhythm I immediately grabed my camera and rushed down into the hall, where the wedding procession had already arrived.

The hotel clearly had a contract with these musicians because the performance at always happened in the same way for this wedding and the two others that I would see during the week: After the arrival of the band and the guests the wedding couple entered either through the door or down the stairs of the first floor to the sound of the Egyptian "wedding march" and stopped in the middle.

Now the first people started to dance around them - and after people had noticed how I clapped along to the rhythm with great enthusiasm, they soon shoved me to the centre to dance along.

Then it was time for the Tanura dancer who spinned for a really long time and did some tricks with his skirt.



At the end of his show, while he was still turning, he undid his turban and rolled it up in the shape of a baby, which he finally put in the arms of the groom.

The couple sat down on two chairs. Incense was carried around them and then they circled each other with the incense container.

After more music and dancing the procession went into the restaurant and the name of Allah was sung.

During all this the video camera was always close by. Some people who had sat down earlier in the restaurant watched the happenings in the hall on the screen - this way they could see more as if they had been standing in the crowd!


While the couple sat down on the kosha, a DJ played Arabic pop music. Then they offered each other a glass of juice and finally drank from the same glass. Now the husband could kiss his new wife. 

After the couple had done a wedding dance, the party really started with a lot of dancing to pop music. Interestingly, mainly the young men danced like crazy and moved their hips impressingly. There seemed to by a competition about who was the better dancer.

The girls and women mostly stood and watched. Only a few who felt more adventurous dared to go on the dance floor. Probably most didn't want to expose themselves too much in front of all the family.

However, people also danced in every corner of the restaurant. Especially the children were encouraged to dance.

Quite soon a few young girls took my hands and pulled me here and there to show me something or someone. All this in sign language of course, because my Arabic only consists of about 15 words. Only occasionally I sat with a guest who gave me some explanations in English.

If I haven't mentioned food yet, there is a reason. For about an hour after the arrival in the restaurant, nothing was served. Only then the waiters brought plates with sandwiches and cake to the tables. Everyone just grabbed something from the nearest plate. Along with this there were soft drinks and water.


The party went on with most elders sitting and talking while the young ones continued dancing.
Around midnight most guests left and by 1 am the party ended with more singing of Allah's name (from tape).

None of these weddings had a professional female dancer. Maybe for economical reasons but maybe also not to upset the more conservative guests.

It was interesting to see the difference between these city weddings in contrast with the village versions we had seen in Aswan.

Of course I also left the hotel to walk around Cairo.