Sunday Belly Dance Night at the Middle East – One Great Show!
Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub (The Corner) – This past Sunday evening (2/1) I and four companions enjoyed great ethnic food topped by a fantastic belly dancing display. The performance, which usually begins at 9:00, didn’t actually get underway until 9:45 which was a little disappointing as this meant that some of us, including myself, had to miss the second half of the show. I was, however, glad that I made it out to Central Square, nonetheless!
I got there quite early, so I had time to sit a bit with a glass of wine and just soak in the atmosphere. This place is definitely not fancy, but has a rather nice casual, cozy, neighborhood kind of feel and I like that. The eclectic crowd spans all ages and interests, but everyone seems to somehow fit in, even while socializing in their own little niches.
We came for dinner and the show, but the bar is quite popular for those who just want to grab a drink and some conversation. One thing that really stands out about their menu is that while it is filled with tempting Middle Eastern cuisine, it also hosts a number of selections of American fare as well, so as to please those who would choose not to indulge their appetite ethnically speaking. I enjoyed the Pumpkin Kibby Labanieh (ground pumpkin, cracked wheat, and seasonings, with a center of sauteed onions and nuts) topped with yogurt sauce and Middle Eastern spices and accompanied by rice pilaf- very yummy! I had trouble deciding between this dish and the Msaah (baked eggplant, caramelized onions, tomatoes, and chickpeas, with a special sauce) also with rice pilaf in addition. My entree alone was more than enough food for me, but their appetizers which include stuffed grape leaves, amongst other treats, and desserts, such as chocolate Baklava, also looked promising, if only I had had more room. Well, maybe in my case, this was a good thing as I am currently keeping a close eye on my weight, but I would encourage you to check out the rest of the menu as I have only given you a brief introduction to the Middle East Restaurant’s fine cuisine.
And now for the height of the evening- belly dancing! Our first dancer, Susi, was a true professional and extremely entertaining. She danced for what seemed to be such a long time to be able to keep-up with all of that energy she was emoting. I’d say at least 20 minutes or so. I was mesmerized the entire time and definitely disappointed when her routine had to end. I could have easily, quite happily watched her dance all night long!!! Aside from all the extraordinary energy and choreography which she displayed, there were other little interesting extras included in her routine, such as quite effortlessly balancing a small jug on her head while she continued to dance and the use of finger cymbals, always a favorite belly dance feature of mine. A rather nice aspect which I enjoy in cafe-style performances such as this, is the intimacy between the dancer and their audience as they weave in and out amongst the tables displaying their craft. As an observer, you get a much truer feel for the intensity of the dancing and can really take in more of the finer details of the performance, as well.
After a short break, they hosted their usual “open mic” session. The dancers were of various levels and appeared either as a group or solo, performing a brief (5 min. or less) routine. While obviously not near the spectacle of the featured act, they were nonetheless interesting to watch and added variety to the evening. Part of the “stage”, if you could call it that, at the Middle East Corner is its storefront window area. Many of the open mic participants partook of this venue, thus displaying their skills to pedestrians as they strolled by. They managed to capture quite an audience and it was amusing to see the local crowd’s reactions to this rather unexpected impromptu form of sidewalk entertainment. All appeared to be getting into the show and having a great time.
Another break in the action was taken before the next featured act of the evening was to commence. Sadly however, my evening ended here as I and some of my companions had to leave for home in order to be able to get up for work sensibly the next day. I especially wished that I could have stayed to see Sabrina, the other principle dancer for the evening, as I had seen her act before and just loved it. Two of my lucky companions did stay for her show and I was assured later that she was indeed fabulous!
I know that I haven’t said a word about the music at this point, but it was recorded, so what can I say except that it was a bit too loud for my liking. Too bad they can’t host a live band to accompany the performers on Sunday as they do on the Wednesday Belly Dance Nights. Oh well, I just love Middle Eastern music anyway! All in all a great evening.
Here is the weekly schedule for Sunday and Wednesday Belly Dance Nights at The Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub’s Corner, which is located on “the corner” of Mass Ave. and Brookline Street in Central Square in Cambridge. The show is free, which is a really nice extra. Get there well before the first performance in order to guarantee yourself a good table from which to enjoy all the action.