With the help of Singers, Musicians and Dancers I have been able to compile some clubs and restaurants where you can hear good live Arabic music, and see some live belly dancing.
We have even been able to give you a rough cost guide as well.
The London scene has changed enormously over the past five years, and sadly some of our favourite places like Cave de Roi and Abo Hammad, where you could hear great live music, and dance all night long, have closed down.
There are still many places to go where you can see belly dancing in London, but the turnover of dancers, especially over the Summer season is quite high. Also restaurants like to have plenty of variety so dancers will change. There are quite a few foreign dancers eg Eastern European or Latin American, and you will also find British girls trained by leading teachers holding sway.
You will find dancers in many establishments eg: Arabic, Persian, Greek and Turkish restaurants, so try your local directory and ask. There is a cover charge which will include entertainment, normally an org player, another instrument-perhaps guitar, and a drummer as well. Ask about cover charges in advance to save embarassment when the bill arrives. It is also a good idea to look at the menu to know the going price for food and drink.
Sometimes in the more upmarket places you will find a singer as well, or perhaps if you are really lucky, several!!! The Summer season is the best time as Arabs escaping from the heat of the Gulf arrive in London and entertainment is created especially for them, which influences the selection of singers and music on offer, so expect to hear lots of Gulf rhythmns (Khaleegy).
Our American cousins might be surprised to hear that there is plenty of shisha on offer, and all night long the scent and smoke of hubbly bubblies pervade the air. If you are allergic to smoke this is something to bear in mind!
Note: It is now illegal to smoke in public bars and spaces, so shisha may be an outside only experience!
What you will see at the local restaurant may be very different to what you will experience at the top end of the market, but there is something for every purse and wallet. If you see a dancer you will notice her working the crowd as she collects tips so you could show your appreciation as well. Dancers can come on stage quite late in some places so make sure if you are going to see a show that it is at a time that you stay up for, but watch out if you are a visitor in London, that you don't miss the last train home. There are night buses for those watching their pennies, so check up transport links in advance.
Most places encourage the audience to join in when the band plays, but not when the dancer is doing her show! Unless she invites you of course!
Some of these venues/clubs have live bellydancer and/or live music. If this is important to your visit please check beforehand.
Read suggestions and ideas from Johara
Please also check Oriental bars
I have compiled a list of places to see live belly dancing with the help of musician friends and some of our performers who dance in them. Go and have fun!
21 Edgware Road
Tel: 0207 723 0773
Lebanese food, very expensive, entertainment every night. Live music
17 Garrick street
Tel: 0871 3327460
Iranian food, expensive. Friday and Saturdays only dancing
561 Kings Road
Tel: 0871 075 6897
Algerian food, average price. Fridays and Saturdays only dancing
65 Edgware Road
Tel: 0207 262 7262
Lebanese food, expensive. Live music. Fridays and Saturdays
58 St James Street
Tel: 0871 332 7780
Expensive. Tuesdays, Thursdays, Friday and Saturday dancing.
37a Curzon steet
Tel: 0871 0759150
Very very expensive. Every night dancing.
Restaurant in Soho, which is mixture of Spanish and Arabic cultures.We have live belly dancing every Friday and Saturday and sometimes in the week
Others we have been told about
Nouras A chain of Lebanese restaurants: Belgravia, Knightsbridge, Picadilly and Mayfair
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