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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

From Badia's at El Giza to Rode El Farag:
Backstage At The Summer Casinos


Translated by Priscilla Adum





A newspaper reporter describes his visit backstage at several nightclubs during the Golden Era.

Unfortunately, the copy of this article used for the translation did not come with identifying information about the publication it appeared in or the date.

Caption Under the Picture

Madame Badia Masabni in between the two dancers Khayria Sadki and Soad Abdou.




Backstage at the Brentania


This week I was backstage with the new troupe. That's backstage at the Brentania Theater where Fatma Rushdy's troupe works.

[TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: The theater commonly known as the "Brentania" Theater in Cairo, where so many famous artists used to perform, is actually named The Printania Theater. However, in Egypt it has always been pronounced Brentania.]

We entered just after the end of Part One and we ran into The Poet of the Young, El Oustaz Ahmed Ramy who had come to congratulate Fatma on her success. We asked el Oustaz Ramy, "Is the play good?" 

Ramy: Very much so.

Reporter: Does this mean you have no criticism of it?

Ramy: No, I customarily like to watch good things. I don't watch anything that isn't good; otherwise, I just pretend I didn't watch it.

ABOUT THE PHOTO: The photo shows Fatma Rushdi.

Fatma Rushdi



Backstage at the Blind Bridge Casino

[EDITOR'S NOTE: The Blind Bridge was one of the names people used in reference to Al-Galaa Bridge. Badia Masabni's summer casino in Giza was at the location where the Sheraton Cairo Hotel stands today. This was next to Al-Galaa Bridge.]

Backstage with Badia's Troupe at the Blind Bridge Casino, we overheard Khayria Sadki say to Gamalat: "I've never seen anything like it before! I bought a pack of cigarettes and now I find there aren't any cigarettes left in it!"

Gamalat: When you buy a pack of cigarettes, do what I do. Hide it behind the mirror, and if you need a smoke during your break, you'll find that a lot of people will offer you a cigarette." 

Then Taheya Carioca came backstage and found that the technician Khalil had cooked some foul [beans], so she approached him and took a spoonful of foul and then said to him in front of all the other artists:

Taheya: Listen to me Khalil.

Khalil: Yes m'am

Taheya: All this foul is on my tab. [*meaning she's buying for everyone]

And Soad Abdo was saying to Fathya Mustafa "I feel sorry for that girl named Houriya Mustafa, they make her dance every day in the ___ [*word is unclear] until she's so exhausted, but she acts happy about it and she just can't say no."

At the Wednesday night performance, the theater manager Ahmed was screaming left and right and someone asked, "Why is Ahmed doing that? It's not like him to act like that!"

There's a saying that goes "When the cat's away the mice will play," and tonight the cat is in Alexandria, so the mouse is playing in Cairo. And by "cat", I mean Badia Masabni!

Speaking of Badia, one of the nights this week, she said to Taheya Carioca and Gamalat, "the blonde Leyla and Titi are the ones who will dance tonight so there won't be any need for you to dance." Taheya objected to this and said "How come Madame Badia? The dances that audiences applaud for are better than the dances that the waiters applaud for." [NOTE: "The blonde Leyla" was Badia Masabni's adopted daughter, Juliet, who used the stage names Leyla el-3amriya and Leyla al-Chakraa.]

ABOUT THE PHOTO: The photo shows Khayria Sadki.

Khayria Sadki



Backstage at Rode El Farag

We moved from backstage at Badia's on to Rode El Farag, backstage with the troupe of El Oustaz Youssef Ezz el Din.

What caught our attention was the dancer Ragaa Tawfik, because she did something that no artist has done before in any troupe. She brought a sepertaia (a type of coffee maker) from her home, and she sent her brother out to buy her coffee, sugar and tea. Whenever she wants coffee, she makes it herself backstage. The reason she does this is because she used to get her beverages from the coffee vendor Sayid. However, she noticed that he liked to make mistakes with her bill, and he'd always demand payment in front of people. This surely embarrassed her. So she found that this was the way to get revenge. 

See you again, at the backstages!

ABOUT THE PHOTO: This advertisement promoted a show at Youssef Ezz el-Din's nightclub in which Ragaa Tawfik was one of the performers. The people in the photos are Mary Ezz el-Din on the left, and Youssef Ezz el-Din on the right. Click here for the translation of this ad.

Casino Ezz el-Din Ad



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About the Translator

Priscilla is a dancer of Lebanese heritage who enjoys researching the Golden Era of Egyptian dance. She owns a collection of more than one hundred classic black and white Egyptian films which is continually expanding.

Priscilla has also gathered a large library of dance related articles and clippings from Middle Eastern magazines and newspapers, many of which she has translated from the original Arabic to both English and Spanish.

Priscilla currently resides in Central America where she is a dance instructor. 




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