The Oud Couple

I was on my way to a belly-dancing party in Spring Valley while talkinq to a friend on my cell phone who said, "I would drive to Reno to see a bunch of hot belly dancers." As it happens with many parties I crash, the house was easy to find because, while looking at road signs, I could hear the music from the street. But instead of following the usual hard rock or hip-hop sounds, this was Middle-Eastern belly-dancing music.

There was an air-hockey table inside the front door, and when I noticed several people in the kitchen watching the belly dancers in the adjoining dining room, I said, "Why is everyone in there when there's this great air hockey game in here?" A petite Iranian woman jumped up and said, "I'll play you a game." (It's not important who won, as my basketball coaches taught me, but I realized she'd obviously never learned to be a good sport as she gloated.)

After air hockey, I went into the dining room where there was a table full of ethnic foods (Italian food was represented by Little Caesar's pizza). The kitchen island was filled with alcohol and soda, but the kitchen was crowded with people watching the belly dancers, so I grabbed a Coke and headed to the back patio. There were young kids running around the back yard, one putting ice down another kid's shirt. A six-year-old belly dancer was getting ready to perform. A few teens flirted with each other. The middle-aged guests were more interested in the food and dancers than in courtship rituals.

It was a big house, and all its rooms were utilized. Upstairs, the dancers changed clothes. And downstairs, there was plenty of food, drink, and entertainment. One woman said to me, "Have you ever seen more desserts in your life?" I felt bad when I saw a carton of ice cream melting, so I grabbed a bowl and a brownie and made a sundae.

As I watched the dancers, I heard someone say, "I think a few of the dancers have been eating too much of that ice cream. There are a few big ones." His friend said, "So what. They come in all shapes and sizes."

These guys and I tried to talk, but with the band playing, it was difficult to hear. I asked a few people the name of an instrument that one of the guys was playing and discovered it was an oud. I had never seen an electric one, and a lady nearby said, "I've never seen one so rounded." When the band finished, I asked the guy playing it, Al, the difference between an oud and a guitar. "The oud has 11 strings instead of 6. It also doesn't have any frets on the neck. It originated around 1350 B.C." As Al and I talked, hip-hop played on the stereo, and we saw a few people belly dancing to it. I noticed that one of the dancers had a tattoo. I assumed that in the belly-dancing world the body was considered a temple, that tattoos were a no-no.

It was hot in the house with all the people packed in, and I moved nearer to the front door. A cop sauntered in, and I said, "You aren't here to break up all the fun, are you?" He smiled and said, "No. I just heard there was food and belly dancers." He walked in and talked to our hostess, Ana, and watched a few dances. Why can't more police officers be like that?

Ana, who moved to the U.S. from Mexico when she was seven years old, told me that many of the dancers were from Tijuana. She teaches several of them. I asked what age her youngest student was, and she said the six-year-old.

The air-hockey lady came over to gloat some more, and I gave her a hard time about the nail she chipped where the puck hit her. One of the musicians came over to talk to her. He played a percussion instrument. It seemed he had had a few beers, and from banging on those bongos, he was a little...aromatic. Of course, he was one of those guys who had to put his arm around me as we conversed.

During their performance, the musicians would chant for someone in the crowd, and that person would have to start dancing. When the belly dancers returned, I watched as several people in the crowd tried to mimic their moves. I made the mistake of telling a woman next to me that belly dancing looked easy, and she lectured me for 45 minutes.

After escaping her, I looked at photos of Ana and her husband. They had been married for several years, and I know it's bad manners to ask a woman her age, but Ana looked great for someone married for "a very, very long time." I discovered that belly dancers don't reveal their age because older belly dancers aren't as desired, and it's more difficult for them to find work. I also wanted to ask Ana if her beautiful long black hair was real. I'm not sure if that's an appropriate question -- I mean, it's not like asking if another body part is fake -- but I refrained.

When a busty belly dancer started dancing, I noticed the men watching and the women scowling.

After midnight, a blonde woman named Alexa started flamenco dancing. She brought a board to set down on the tile floor. Earlier, when she was sitting outside with a guy, it looked as if she was about to fall asleep, and I told someone it looked as if he was boring her to tears. Turned out he was her husband, and once they started dancing, they came to life. Their dance was exciting, and as they hopped around on the board, I kept an eye on the ceiling fan, which seemed rather low -- a disaster waiting to happen. When Alexa's feet stomped in succession, I asked the woman next to me "How many pairs of shoes do you think she goes through in a month?"

"I don't know," she responded, "but at least she has an excuse as to why she buys so many."

Crash your party? Call 619-235-3000 x421 and leave an invitation for Josh Board.

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This is 7 years old and posted as current news. Why is that?

And why would it be something from Josh "the Toad Board, of all people??

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