Three Reasons to Shimmy Down to the Cabrillo Recreation Center for Moon Over Morocco

The definition of a lucky number may vary from place to place; think of the Chinese government scheduling the start of this year’s Olympic Games to fall on 08-08-08. For Middle Eastern dancer, dance teacher, event producer, and artistic director of the UCSB Middle East Dance Ensemble Alexandra King, seven ought to prove to be her lucky number. This year marks the seventh Moon Over Morocco, King’s explosive festival celebrating the history, rhythm, music, beauty, and culture of Middle Eastern dance. While the tradition is often best known by the sensual and sinuous belly dance, it also includes folk and line dancing, with different regions employing diverse rhythms, steps, and variations on the theme.

Moon Over Morocco VII began with a belly dance camp on August 18, but during the upcoming weekend (Aug. 23-24), the doors of the ballroom at the Carrillo Recreation Center (100 E. Carrillo St.) will be flung open to the public for two days of events straight out of One Thousand and One Nights. For those who want to partake or just watch, the schedule of drumming workshops, participatory line dancing, belly dance classes, and the evening concert extravaganza are all available online at Not convinced yet? Then check out a couple more reasons why you should go.

1) Seeking Out a Souk: This may be one of the few souks (the marketplace indigenous to the Middle East) that you can visit without needing to pack your passport, fumble through a phrase book, or exchange your currency. Wander through the tented aisles to run your fingers over hand-woven rugs, samples the spices and flavors of Middle Eastern food, try on some jewelry, or offer up your skin for an impermanent henna tattoo.

2) Get Your Groove On: Throughout the weekend there are opportunities for both novices and experienced dancers to show off their moves. Scarves and bells may strike your fancy, but if you’re thinking that shimmying, shaking, and showing your navel may not be for you, both the Saturday and Sunday afternoon programs feature line dancing. Yes, line dancing. It’s really more than cowboy boots and checkered shirts-and the opportunity to try out this group dance is a blast, even for those who think they have two left (or two right) feet.

3) The Saturday Night Concert: Middle Eastern dance is without a doubt one of the most inspiring, sexy, and enticing dance forms around, and the sensuality displayed onstage is a joyous, life-affirming expression that crosses cultural boundaries. Be there Saturday from 8-10 p.m. for a concert unlike any you’ve ever seen.


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