Restaurants in SD with Dance Performance/Open Dance

topic posted Tue, March 18, 2008 - 7:24 AM by  JimBoz
Howdy gang

As you know, my travel schedule takes me away from home too often. I'm completely out of touch with what restaurants have dancing. I was wondering what y'all thought were places with good Arabic music & dance, and if any offer open dancing in the later hours. mmmm

Keep in mind, looking for *good* dancing (preferably Arabic style) and *good* food. I often host professional dancers from out of the state and country and I really would like to take them someplace.

As an addendum, list student shows you know of - be sure to label them as such. It's important in the community to support student performances!
posted by:
San Diego
  • Best restaurant dancing I have seen is at Royal India, but that is not Arabic obviously.

    Okay food and good dancing at Rannoosh but you should try the food for yourself since I have heard other people say it was really good. Maybe I just only like Thai...

    Student showcases

    Gypsy Night is on the first Friday of every month at 8pm at the Other Side with student and pro musicians as well as recorded music, no cover

    Saraswati has a showcase at Egyptian Tea Room on the second Saturday of every month at 9pm with student and professional musicians as well as recorded music, no cover, good food!

    Heather Stants and Urban Tribal host an evening at the Kava Lounge on the second Thursday of each month at 8:30 pm Student showcase as well as guest pro dancers. $5 cover, organic beverages at the bar

    Pro showcase

    The Shimmy Sisters have a professional Nomads show with guest pro dancers at Portugalia with Danyavaad playing for them, but they wrap it up with open dancing, lots of fun. Good Portuguese food. Also the second Thursday of the month at 8pm. $10 cover

    I try to go to all of these and would love to hear about more!
    • So, it's come to this: we have no more places with Arabic dancing?!?

      Oh, sad day...sad sad day.
      • Zorba's, Troys, and Greek Town also have dancers. You can check with them for scheduling.
        • Well, you will probably only find open dancing with live music. In restaurants with cds, when the dancer is done, she's done. Although I'm sure we all try to involve the audience, but it's not the same.

          There's a new restaurant in the works that will have open dancing with dj, and later on live music, I'll let you know when it's happening.(soon)

          However if you are to come to Greek Town and bring some friends (I'm there on Fridays) you are more than welcome to let me know, I'll make a longer cd with upbeat songs at the end and that will allow for "open dancing", if the other options are exhausted.

          Hookah lounges such as the Zodiak will have more upbeat, danceable songs throughout the night, but they're not exactly restaurant-environment. (18 and over)
          • as long as there's no sword dance to Om Koulthoum, k? ;)

            Is the food at Greek Town good?

            I'm getting tired of having to fly to Canada for good Greek Food. They know me at a restaurant in Toronto now - they give us Ouzo and play Arabic music so that we'll dance! LOL
            • I don't remember ever dancing with sword or candles to Umm Kalthoum - unless of course that's what the band had played at the time, which I had no control over.

              I think the food is good - they also have awesome kabobs /a la carte/ - it's not in the buffet, you need to order it, but it's sooo yummy!
              I believe they have beer and wine, but no ouzo (no hard liquor licence)
              • NO OUZO?!?!
                Okay, count me out! LOL

                Yeah, you balanced a sword to Ana Fintazarak at Zorba's once. I remember because you did a lovely balancing act on one foot sticking the bottom of your feet at the audience. :) (ask Nahllah about sticking the bottoms of your feet at people)

                I know - I heard that the band at Zorba's plays what they want - but someone should have a serious talk with them that Om Koulthoum with swords is just not done. I made a comment about it to someone and they said no one would do that again. So I brought a friend of mine from Egypt there and lo and behold: someone did sword to Enta Omri!!

                I know that at restaurants they like what Americans think is spectacular: balancing, 'in your face' excitement, etc. I'm hoping to find good Arabic dancing (professional, not students) I can take visiting professional friends. I'm sad to see that American pop culture has overshadowed the rich cultural expressions that have drawn me to this career. Perhaps we have to travel to LA?

                Interesting similar note: I was just at Rakkasah and for being a Middle Eastern Dance Event (one of the largest if not THE largest), there was a noticeable dearth of Middle Eastern Music. It made me pine for tabla, riqq, kanoun, oud and ney!


                *please?* ;)

                Okay, I'll check out the kabobs at Greek Town sometime.
                Do they let you dance Arabic or do they make you cater to the American taste?
                • Well, as far as doing sword to Ana Fi Intizarak... like I said I had no control over the band, didn't I?? I never used Umm Kalthoum on any of my cds.
                  Countless of dancers did and are still doing candles and swords to that song as well as Inta Omri, etc. When you're coming out with your sword / candles, the band will play a song which they will decide upon. Good luck asking them not to play a song. You may request one, and they will play it for you, but I don't even think they will play each and every song you want.

                  As far as musicians in general go: They are very talented people and usually have a high ego (which is in part, justified, in my opinion, but only in part). If you, or any belly dancer (usually in their eyes a "nobody") try to educate them about Middle Eastern music, culture, what songs should be used, they will think you're an idiot, and will talk bad about you, and will probably play bad for you. Especially iif they're Middle Eastern, but even if they're Greek, Turkish, etc, and you're Western.
                  The best thing to do is to be nice to them, appreciate them, perhaps suggest / request some songs, but if you try to be a know - it all (even if you are right) you will lose them right then and there. Trust me.

                  Doing balancing on my feet. Yes. I always tried to turn so that my foot is looking at the wall where is only 1 table, and usually regulars sit there, whom I know well. My foot was never intended to be directed at the audience, instead up in the air. Maybe it didn't make it up there that night? :)
                  ... and other dancers are sitting on the floor, have one leg up in the air, holding it with their hand, showing their dirty foot. Or just basically laying around, rolling around on the filthy floor while balancing stuff. Yes, we're all idiots for doing floor work while balancing, and you can criticize us till you fall asleep. A local well known/ well respected teacher told me that I can do a Turkish drop facing the audience, because it's already pretty bad that I am on the floor with my legs slightly open, so who cares which direction I am in. On a side note, I have never faced the audience with a Turkish drop even after his suggestion.

                  restaurants will want you to do certain things, some of that you may not completely agree with, or not fond of. It's nice if you have artistic freedom. At Zorba's they always wanted the "Harem scene" I didn't like it, it was funny, yes, but also cheesy, and sort of played off of the Hollywood fantasy. The owner said, it HAD to be done. They also always wanted props. Towards the end of my days there it was like a circus: we each did a different prop to the suggestion / request from the owner.

                  At greek Town I dance to whatever I want. He never complained about my music. Sometimes I used Greek, but 98% of the time I use Arabic. I often do sword, but sometimes I don't do any props, and I think they others dancers are similar.
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
                    Ok , so there is a new restaurant with open dancing.
                    It's downtown, large restaurant, with large dance floor, live Arabic music Fridays and Saturdays. Sometimes they might have DJs, but most of the time so far it's live music, with singers.
                    The food is delicious, they have beer and wine, and also a hookah patio - so basically, they have just about everything. They just opened a month ago, so some nights it's slow, some nights it's busy, but that's just how it works.

                    I can't guarantee good dancing though :) since it's good ol' me. I just dance,and everyone can decide how they like it. But seriously, it's fun. The audience is mostly Middle Eastern, so it's even more fun.

                    But really Jim, I must warn you, you might not like it (but if anyone else wants to check it, we'd love to see you!) because there are so many musicians there, I often don't know what to expect. I try to talk to them, request some songs, (but not be too annoying) and they agree, and then some of them play something weird.
                    For example for my sword, I asked for something nice, slow but not boring. What did he play? Gana Al hawa !!! It definitely was not a good choice, didn't even go with it, either way. When I asked him later, he said on the Lebanese tv channel that's what the girls would do - do sword, or wings to songs like this. And he is Iraqi, and a well known musician in San Diego. So go figure.

                    there's more info on my site at

  • Unsu...
    In the time since Bonnie's post, alas the student show at The Other Side Cafe is no more, they had a change in ownership and a change of plans. But Juliet's student show at Egyptian Tea Room is still going.

    I think there's belly dancing at a Moroccan place in Hillcrest, but I don't see it on their website, We ate there not long after it opened and the food was marvelous, but they didn't have dancing yet.

    Does Meleah still perfrom at Marakesh in La Jolla and in Carlsbad?
  • Saw this post by the beautiful Dilek in another tribe and thought I should add the info here:

    Arabina Dance Company performs our regular choreographed show at Zorbas Greek Restaurant. Awesome buffet, live music, Greek singer, ouzo dance, Greek folk dance. Our choreographed shows include entrance, veil, drum, two solos and finale; most choreographies are influenced by Suhaila Salimpour so you can see some various changes... RSVP 619-422-8853
    100 Broadway, Chula Vista, CA 91910
    • Thanks darling....
      Yes Zorbas have regular Fridy and Saturday will give you the scheduled dances at Zorbas and other venues...but we are also starting July 20th, third SUndays showcases at if you know a talented dancer that would like to sign up, let me know...
      July 20th theme "props" Sabrina Fox, Ana, Kysha, Magdalena, Dilek and Heather....
      August theme is All around the world; burlesque, hip hop, fusion, gypsy
      Sept. Gypsy, tribal....I am open for signups....thanks,

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