• by Zara Dance

The power of the mind – Bellydancing with Mahmood El Lithy


Mum often shouts at me, “YOU BROUGHT THIS ON YOURSELF WITH YOUR NEGATIVE THOUGHTS.”

Or mum moans at me, “DON’T THINK LIKE THAT. Be careful of what you attract. Stop dwelling on the bad things and imagined wrongs in your life because that’s like putting out a call to the universe and the universe will hear and send you what you’re thinking about.”

She is adamant that I bring on to me whatever I think. Sometimes I agree that our minds are powerful things. But as much bad stuff as I bring on to myself, I am lucky enough that I bring on good stuff too.

I dance once a week in a lovely, modern lounge bar along the Nile. They have an “Oriental” night once a week with a belly dancer. Sometimes I dance to CDs and sometimes I have a tabla player to accompany me. It is a lot like dancing in the West but more fun as the people know all the songs and sing along. I noticed they go for wild for Mahmood El Lithey (a popular Shaabi singer). I was making the play list for another night at the lounge bar and was looking up Mahmood El Lithey’s newest songs. Out of the 8 songs I was going to dance to, 5 were by Mahmood El Lithey and I thought to myself, not for the first time, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if I could just have Mahmood El Lithey come and sing for me?!”

Anyway, I go to my gig at the lounge bar that night and everything goes well. Everyone goes wild for the songs and sings along. At the end of the gig my manager comes up to me and tells me I did well and that we are booked for next week and that Mahmood El Lithey will be singing live. I’m like, “Are you JOKING??!!!”

Anyway, the week goes past and I tell him not to mention the gig as it may get cancelled and I don’t want to get too excited. They may even book another dancer and it’s not 100% that I will get to see him because he may not be there at the same time as when I dance. But, I keep imagining it!

The day comes. It starts off badly. The Pope is in town and is driving down the road where my first gig is situated so all the roads and the clubs have been shut. So, my first gig is cancelled. It doesn’t matter. We continue to our next one and the one after. Then we have my 1.30am gig at my regular club. I hear my manager talking to the organisers at the lounge bar, “Yes, we will be there at 1.30am.” But surely we are not going to the lounge bar? We must go my regular gig. I know that under no circumstances can I miss my slot at my regular gig. If you miss your slot once you are off their books. My manager prioritises this over everything as I dance there regularly twice a day and it makes up a big wedge of my pay. It’s 1.30am and I’m at my regular gig, not the lounge bar.

After I finish, I come down and meet my manger, “We are going to the lounge bar”

“But what? Haven’t we missed it? Aren’t we too late?”

“Nah the star is always late.” Was he talking about me or Mahmood?!

We turn up and Mahmood El Lithey is still on the stage. He had started late. I was later. The organiser was there, “Get changed quick Zara. I talked to Mahmood before he started and showed him your pictures and he said it is ok for you to perform with him for his last two songs.”

“You’re joking!”

I whipped on my costume and went to the stage. Hundreds of fans were surrounding him. There is little space. He looks at me. I say, “Ahlan wa sahlan!” and together we finish the last two songs of his set with a BANG!

The power of the mind!?

(though I have to say I didn't vision my self late and still sweating from the previous gig LOL )


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part of the Zara's Zouk family
Photography by Evie Kalila
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