I Went to an Egyptian Cabaret and This Is What Happened



I’ve been living in Cairo for a few months and now that I’m settled into my routine, I’m just starting to see Cairo for the first time, from wandering around Coptic Cairo to strolling through Khan El Khalili. And when my friend came to visit from the States, she wanted to see all the same sights, but she also wanted to see grimy Egypt and it doesn’t get much grimier than a cabaret.

sharezadeAfter much research, I realized there are multitudes of cabarets around Cairo and one of the more well-known ones is Sharezade. I recognized the name from the shitty Egyptian wine and thought, “Why the hell not?”

People had pointed out to me that I shouldn’t head to such facilities without a male escort and, being the feminists my friends and I are, we protested and demanded to know why. My fellow Egyptians had kindly pointed out that people were most likely going to mistake a group of girls hanging out in a cabaret as “ladies of the evening.” With that clear, we got two of my trusty guy friends to come with us.

After circling around downtown Cairo with six drunk people in one car, and one Egyptian and one foreigner arguing over the location of the cabaret, the foreigner managed to actually find the place. For 80 pounds, you get entrance to the cabaret and two Stella beers; ours came warm, but hey, we only paid 80 pounds.

We walked up some winding stairs — or was it down? (I was gone at this point) — to a dark, cavernous room with a stage against one wall, surrounded by small tables occupied by guys you’d see in an Oka and Ortega music video. Since we were a pretty large group, we were seated front and center. Within 30 seconds, the first one of us was on stage getting low with the bellydancer. My friend visiting from the States was next on stage; I guess the belly dancer has a thing for American chicks because she laid a big smooch on her and the crowd went wild.

Next thing you know, everyone from our table was getting their groove on. After we got tired of hizzing, my Shami roots came out and we somehow ended up leading a dabke line around the belly dancer. We would take beer-sipping breaks and guys in attendance danced around our table and made it rain fives on us (think of all the shawarma I could buy with all that money). The boys decided to have their fun and clown on each other, too, which in a cabaret meant paying the shaabi singer to call your friend the Raees of some made-up town. We danced, laughed, drank and grubbed on some nasty shwarma in the street at 3 AM.

Conclusion: Going to a cabaret is definitely one of the top five thing to do when visiting Egypt. Just make sure you go in a large group — the more, the merrier!

Originally published on Scoop Empire March 13, 2016


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