Restaurant Marrakesh at Epcot-May 4, 1993

Nemo Aladdín

New member
As promised, here is my favorite video in my collection, the belly dancer I believe is named Houda and it's my understanding that she has been performing there for many, many years possibly ever since the Morocco pavilion along with Restaurant Marrakesh opened in 1984 and still performs there to this day! However her hair is now shorter and straight instead of the long flowing locks of wavy hair she used to have as you will see. The performances back then were much better and seemed more professional and involved than how they are now which is a very watered down performance. The costumes were also more beautiful and elaborate. What I think might have happened is it was tweaked over time because of idiotic parents complaining of it being too risque for their kids or something, causing Disney to tell Restaurant Marrakesh to tone it down. The musical set up is also different now. There are so many things I have been wondering all these years about it like what is the performance style and the song being played which I know is difficult to identify. Without further ado, here it is:

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Greek Bonfire

Well-known member
Wow, this style I absolutely adore and also what I always aspire to. Many of the costumes I have worn are along this style and at many events, I am almost the only one dancing this style and with a similar costume style. Plus I'm usually the sole zills player. To me, this is so classic and never should be considered "out of date" because much of the modern style is not what I would call a Middle Eastern style by a long shot. Thank you for sharing.

As far as being too risqué, I think those people who feel that way are nuts!
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Active member
I'm sorry I don't recognize most of the music, but I'm thinking the live drumming at the restaurant when it was taped could have interfered when you tried using song-identification software. Not all older recordings made the transition to the digital streaming world, especially imports (old cassettes with no English writing on them) and small-pressings (Who remembers the not-Gallagher-brothers' Oasis band from Wisconsin before they were cease-and-desisted into oblivion?). It's also possible that this music was some sort of Disney-proprietary arrangement or a re-recorded suite courtesy of the Moroccan government (apparently the Moroccan Pavilion is the only Epcot entity not sponsored by a corporation), so maybe it wasn't commercially available, although that seems less likely than the "digitized versions simply aren't in any streaming/MP3 databases for the software to compare it to" theory.

I'm pretty sure the song that starts around the five-minute mark of the video is an instrumental bit of "Aba'ad" ("Abaad," "Ebaad," "Eba'ad," etc., AKA "Leyla Leyla") by Mohammed Abdo.

This would have been the most widely known and used Khaleegi (Gulf) song for dancing in that era. Abdo's recordings have vocals, and often audience noise, so I don't think it's his version unless it was surgically edited, and it's not Setrak Sarkissian's version, because Setrak's is more electronic sounding. Maybe someone else will know if there were other records of it in circulation back then.

It looks like Radio Bastet has withered on the vine (last FB post in 2017, last podcast in 2011), but you could try contacting Marisa, since she has expertise in retro belly dance recordings. I think there also used to be a vintage belly dance group on Facebook, so if they're still active, they might be able to help you find this music.


Active member
Most of the dancers here probably recognized this, but since you also mentioned wanting more info on the style of her dancing, the part I'm talking about is the music where she starts rhythmically swishing the panel of her skirt from side to side. This is not random swanning about--it's an intentional reference to the way women in the Gulf dance using the fabric of their clothes. The traditional way would be to swish or "roll" the front of a heavily embroidered, T-shaped, caftan-type overdress called a "thobe al-nashal," but since this style of dress is not as common as it once was (and wouldn't have been an option for a performer who couldn't change costumes mid-gig), dancers will improvise the movements with whatever they are wearing (modern dresses, long tunics, decorative scarves, unwrapped hijabs at a women-only party, etc.). As oil money skyrocketed and the Gulf took off on elaborate modernization projects, these thobes began to fall embarrassingly out of style and wouldn't have been taken seriously outside of historical/theatrical contexts and grandmothers' closets, but they've had a bit of a hipster/fashionista revival within the last few years. Also, I can't easily trace back to the clip I uploaded on Bhuz since the site died, but somewhere on YouTube is a "Jalsat Wanasa" (MBC TV show) video of a guy doing this move in a plain man's thobe. The move is generally associated with women's dancing, so it seemed a bit weird to see it pop up on a show aimed at an audience that holds very rigid gender roles (although maybe not as weird as the time a guy improvised the ladies' hair tossing move with his keffiyeh), but apparently men occasionally do something similar to the clothes-swishing move, too.

I can't pin a name on the other melodic parts or the drumming in the clip, though. I've barely scratched the surface of Moroccan music, and there are lots of classic songs and legendary singers in every country of the Middle East. The first song could be by someone like Ahmed al-Bidaoui and it would sail right over my head. The only Moroccan singer I have much familiarity with is Abdel Fattah al-Grini and he would have been a little kid when this video was made.


Active member
As far as the general concept of her performance (music, dancing, costume) going out of style... The purpose of children is to make their parents obsolete, and the entertainment and fashion industries are always chasing new and different things. There's nothing wrong with the older styles, except that they're old to younger people. I'd be happy to rant about how I think the influx of Eastern European dancers to MED after the end of the Cold War has shifted indigenous dancing that was refined and emotive into something physically aggressive and exaggerated, or that mahraganat music is cacophonous, crude, and repetitive instead of sublime, or at least clever and catchy, but nobody cares what I think. The world keeps changing anyway.

The previous monocultural environments where, for example, Egypt screeched to a halt to listen to Umm Kalthoum's radio concerts lost to an interconnected world where Egyptian kids can easily switch between streaming Mohammed Ramadan, Drake, and BTS on their mobile phones, but the old music never went completely away. It still sets the standard for reality talent shows like the Arabic franchises of "The Voice," "Got Talent," and the various "Idol" incarnations. Umm Kalthoum didn't go away. Here's Cairokee, one of Egpyt's most popular, socially conscious, Western-style rock bands sampling "Ansak" on a record that came out a couple of months ago...but, yeah, not the same thing. Time marches on.

[the video contains a strobing light effect so if you are highly photosensitive, please don't watch]

Cairokee "Kan Lak Maaya"

Okay, enough rambling for today...