Posts Tagged ‘Belly Dancers’

“Ahmed Is Dying Of Love”, a short story, and a true one.

February 20, 2018

Rachel Brice doing her thang…Tribal Dance, not Classical Turkish/Egyptian stuff.


Once upon a time I was a belly dancer.  I was never a ‘great’ dancer, but I worked at it.  I met some wonderful people, men and women and especially Berbers in the cafes and restaurants I danced.  Ahmed was a sweet young man.  He and others, taught me how to play the dumbeks…drums.  There were nights I would rather play dumbeks than dance and the drummers always made room for me.

I am working hard on editing a 60 chapter novel, “Kimono” that has taken me 10 years to research and write. So, I will be doing this instead of being on this blog unless there is something I have to answer. That novel is a swamp and it needs draining.

Lady Nyo

The ney is a wooden flute, only played by men. Women aren’t to touch it.
The Zar is a trance ritual to get rid of demons. Men don’t touch it. (except to play the ney at it…)




“Ahmed is dying of love”….

I hear Hadil next to me, chanting something under her breath.

“What? Is Ahmed sick or something?” I ask, for Ahmed is a young Algerian waiter in this Lebanese restaurant. He’s a sweetheart and a good ney player.

We are bellydancers, applying our makeup in this ‘green room’ Nicola has given us behind the kitchen. An old sofa against the wall, a curtain over the doorway, and the same tray of dried fruits, nuts and bottled water on the table. Since we rarely touch it, we think he recycles it nightly. Nicola is the owner and he’s very protective of the dancers. No window in the room, typical of the seclusion of Muslim women. I hear Hadil chanting again.

“So, what is wrong with Ahmed?” I am trying to apply mascara, and since I don’t wear it except for dancing, I look like a raccoon. Leila, the head of the troupe, the uber bellydancer, insists on the heavy makeup. We look more ‘professional’ she tells us. Yeah, more professional, but what profession?

Hadil, the graceful one, puts down her blusher brush and looks at me with a deadpan expression. Or her usual expression because Hadil is languid to the extreme for a bellydancer. I always feel she should be given some catnip to perk her up.

“Ahmed has a huge crush on you.”

What?! My face reflects my amazement. I have to be 30 years older than Ahmed. He’s so sweet and innocent. Perhaps not so innocent.

“Do you suppose he has noticed my wedding ring? And besides, he’s met my husband. You know, the one who sits at a table by the door? His asthma kicks in, he says, when we dance because of Nicola’s moldy carpet.”

“Well, he’s hopeful, then.” Hadil adjusts her lovely breasts in the heavy bra. We all suffer because of the costumes, heavy and uncomfortable. We wear double bras, something soft sewn into the costume bras. The women in Turkey who hand sew these bras must be sadists looking for masochists to torture. They have found us.

“Hopeful of what?” I turn and stare at her instead of looking in the mirror before us.

“Well, you bring him presents.”

“I brought him a couple of dozen eggs. What’s so special about that?”

“Think about it, Aurora. In his country, when a woman brings a man such a valuable present, she is announcing her interest. And besides, you’re American.”

“What? Does Ahmed have trouble with his green card?”

I think over what she said. I have brought him a basket filled with my chicken’s eggs. I have done this several times. Usually Nicola grabs the eggs and says that he will make himself a six- egg omelet. I wondered if Ahmed ever got to eat an egg.

I thought about one of the first conversations I had with Ahmed. I gave him a dozen eggs, and his eyes, those beautiful black pools, grew large at the sight of them. I was touched. He explained in Algeria, in the countryside, at 11am sharp, he and his brothers would hear the hen cluck her egg-laying song and they would rush out to find the egg. Ahmed was younger than his brothers, and rarely got the egg. He would disappear from home, and lay in wait for that egg, but usually he was summoned back to the chores or the field with the others. This constant supply of eggs from my pet chickens was of value to him, and not just for the eating.

“So”, I said to Hadil, now brushing out her hair. “The price of love in Algeria is a couple dozen eggs?”

Hadil snorted. “No, it’s also because you are American.”

“And American women put out?”

She laughed uneasily. Obviously, she knew more but wasn’t telling me. Then She’nez came in, the beautiful Amazon from Somalia, and bending down, she put her face next to mine, and I saw our light and dark reflections in the mirror. Painted day and night.

“Ahmed is dying for love of you.” She chanted.

“God no, She’nez…not you too!” I was laughing, but concerned a bit about Ahmed.

“Did you see how his ney fell out of his mouth at the Zar? He saw you writhing around with your demons and the poor boy forgot what he was there for.” She’nez laughed, a deep rumble from her dark, silky throat.

I thought of the Zar. We were 12 women, dancers and students, and we were doing the ritual as a ‘bonding’ between us. We danced out our demons, drawn by our drama queen lives to the attention of compassionate hands. We twirled and jerked, our hair flinging outward with our spins, our demons holding onto the ends of our hair before we threw them off and into the waiting arms of the Sheikha. I have no similar cultural rituals and I was a bit abandoned in my behavior, but then again, I am the class clown. I have been called down for this before. I just like to make people laugh.

“Ahmed thought you really were possessed. He told Abdul that he was mortally afraid for you. He burned incense and said many prayers that night.”

I started to laugh. My antics were getting me in trouble again. I had thrown myself on my back, and wiggled like a roach dying of poison. I would be dead, only to come back to life with my arms and legs in grotesque positions, and I would do it again. I had my friends around me laughing, but we were all high on the turkish coffee and friendship. We didn’t get much chance to let loose like this. So many petty things were dissolved in that afternoon of vigorous fun. The stolen mascara, the blushers not replaced, the intentional bumps on the dance floor, the exchanged nastiness between us while smiling at the audience. It was a clearing of many problems at that Zar. Women things.

“So, Miss American Belly Dancer. What are you going to do about Ahmed?”

I thought about it. There really wasn’t much I could do. He was a man, with all the yearnings for the kindness of a woman. Even a much older woman who only gave him eggs.

That night, when I went out on the dance floor, I saw Ahmed at the other side of the room, playing a drum. I waved at him and threw him a kiss, making him blush heavily. At least a kiss, so public, from the pretty American belly dancer, would begin to repay his concern and his prayers.

I made a mental note to bring him eggs and spring plums from my trees. Let the girls talk about that! Ahmed’s concern would be repaid with this coin of friendship.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2012


(Me, sweaty from the dance.)


Witches, Warlocks and other Narcissistic beings….Plus a poem.

August 23, 2013
"Viriditas", wc, janekohut-bartels, 2000

“Viriditas”, wc, janekohut-bartels, 2000




Come to me.

Come to me,

Winged celestial beauty.

Come to me with your notched

Mermaid tail,

Your silken roll of feathers.

Fly down into my hollowed-out soul,

Fill me with your sun-warmed glory

Nestle in my arms

And bring the curve of the horizon

Embraced in your outstretched wings.


I need no white bearded prophet,

No mumbled prayer, no gospel song

No witchy woman, no charms or spells,

No hard church bench, no fast or

Festival to feel close to the Divine.



The glory of the universe,

Is embodied in your flight

As you tumble through heavens,

Ride the invisible thermals

Screech with joy at freedom

Fill your lungs with thin air

And play bumper car with an Eagle.


I, earthbound,

No hollowed bones to launch me,

Just tired soul to weigh down,

No soft plumage to feel the course

Of wind through glossy feathers

No hunting call to herald my presence.


Still my soul takes flight

The breeze lifts my spirit,

My eyes follow you,

And we will find that glory

Transcend a sullen earth,

Transcend a mean humanity

And soar together into the blue eye of God.

‘Ode To A Cooper’s Hawk’ is from “Pitcher of Moon” Poems of Gratitude and Blessings, to be published soon. 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2012-13 


Witches, Warlocks and Other Narcissistic Beings…

Recently  we were sitting around talking, a few women of an advanced  age and with lots of life experience.  We were talking about some experiences that didn’t sit well with us, generally of the religious or spiritual kind. 

Some felt battered by experiences earlier on in Christianity. One woman was a Jew and had left that faith.  One woman had considered herself a witch when she was younger and  was part of a well-known coven here.  She also left that after a decade, and we settled upon this discussion. 

Readers of this blog know that I have fled the religious fundamentalism of part of my family.  It has shown itself to be a punitive religion in the hands of people I now consider to be part of this narcissistic ball of wax.   Nothing good here, except a continuation of the power and control and contempt of the chief narcissist.  The apples don’t fall far from the tree, and there is comfort for them in this.  Ignorance and cruelty of minds, too.   I was looking for something a bit kinder, something that didn’t batter over the head.

The good news is I have found a spiritual ‘place’, not a religious place, in the writings of Caitlin Matthews, and especially her book “Celtic Devotional”, which is an approach to the spiritual through a combination of animistic spirituality of earlier times and from the Celtic  Christianity that developed out of this foundation. I have grown to understand this more, and it has become a great inspiration (or conduit) into my own nature and spiritual poetry.  A more recent beginning study of Shintoism has added to this. One must feel open and relaxed and welcomed in any spiritual study. I certainly didn’t find that in a Calvinist fundamental religion.  I felt what was intended: diminished and a particular battering.  But perhaps that is all one can expect from certain Bible wielders.

However, years ago, I did attend some Wicca meetings, travelling far out and returning in the black of night. It was weird.  Most of the witches and warlocks were garbed in strange costumes, like at some festival.  They frowned a lot.   And, they were not taking questions.

A few short years ago, my husband and I attended a Beltane festival.  We sent in our $120.00 and got our admittance vouchers by mail.  When we got there they had no record that we had applied.  This was not a great beginning, but was mostly just something to work out. It would get worse.

As we drove down the road, on our right we saw what appeared to be pale boulders.  It was a woman, probably over 500 pounds sitting naked in a field.  In a way, it was intriguing, not for her nakedness, but because just of the sheer mass of human flesh.  I hoped she was sitting on a blanket because later we found that red ants were prominent in these fields.  But this was also disturbing because it was clear she was on display.  It wasn’t her nakedness on display, it was the sheer mass of her.  But why?

The issues with this Beltane festival were to come.  I was a belly dancer and one who, along with a tribe of Urban/Rom dancers, was to dance that night. Although we have different forms of dance and very different costumes, I was excited to work with other bellydancers.  This was the positive part.

What wasn’t positive was the attitude of the Witches officiating.  There was a big area for the firepit  that night, and we were directed to walk this large circle and clean out any stones or pebbles so people would not injure their feet.  I was game, and talked with people by my side.  Immediately a witch (let me call her a bitch here) yelled at me to ‘be quiet’.  This was to be done in silence.  I thought about this and decided:  No.  It was a boring task, one I did not have to do, so I would get to know some of the other people there.  And people also felt that this witch was oppressive.  It got worse.

Obviously the witches decided that they would not mingle with us mortals…and had their own roped off showers and bathrooms.  The other bathrooms were outhouses that hadn’t been cleaned in years.  They were unusable. Disgusting.  The smell would kill you.  These witches also saw fit that they would not eat with us attendees.  They segregated themselves off somewhere else.

It became rather laughable.  They might have organized this festival, but they were clearly lifting themselves above and beyond the rest of us…and there were about 200 people there.  There were programs, for lack of anything else to call them…where the witches would choose who would attend.  They stood outside  the large tents and IF you approached, and found not on their lists, you would be rejected.  It got to be a game and we had to make a decision whether to leave or not.  It just didn’t make any damn sense.  It was all an issue of power and control of these women, and it smacked of narcissism.  We guessed this was their time to feel powerful. Ugh.  And where did they get their authority???  It was damned oppressive and just ….well, silly.

However, we didn’t leave. It was a long 2 hour trip back to our home, and we decided that the evening would have to be better.  It was, but not because of any witchy presence.  The drummers, about 15, sat up on a hill over the fire pit and were marvelous.  Pipers, tambourines,  some Spanish sounding guitarists with a lot of amplification just made the music great.  The fire in the pit was huge…we dancers danced around the fire for quite a while, but it is hard to walk constantly and dance the belly dance moves we are taught. Plus, the fire was HOT!  But we stayed, enchanted by the musicians and the nicer Warlocks.  These men were not so pompous as the witches.  They were rather sweet, interested in our dance forms, our costumes (and with some of the dancers…their LACK of costumes….).  I danced for around 8 hours, falling easily into Hyper arousal Trance.  My husband finally had to lead me out of the trance and back to where we had pitched our tent.  He saw the signs. 

We slept in our opened up sleeping bags, under a night time sky with so many stars above that I couldn’t sleep.  No moon, but I hadn’t seen so many stars before.  City lights take their numbers away, dull their brilliance, but here they were filling the bowl of night above us.  It was something I will never forget.

During that night, we heard some screams and a lot of shouting from down in the valley.  In the morning we found out  one of the main witches had a meltdown and attacked another witch.  We decided it was time to leave.  The police had been called. Rather a sorry ending for this hallowed festival of Beltane.

Even though we were now over any interest in Wicca, and we knew this  Beltane celebration was a farce,We were still uplifted by the music and stars from the night before.  We had to pull something positive out of the hat.

Lady Nyo



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