In Tahrir Midan, the Picadilly of central Cairo’s circuses, after a long, hot, dusty day spent being shadowed by touts and hissing men, we searched for dinner, for a beer, for a rest.
But trouble in Arabic was brewing above a teahouse on the corner and robocops were filling the side alleys. We hadn’t the language to ask why. Men were shouting from a balcony, displaying photos of people we didn’t recognize. Loud, distorted arabesque music was blasted into the streets. Days later, we learned that Lebanon had been bombed. People were not happy to hear this.
We searched for somewhere open for a cool drink, somewhere uncreepy, somewhere mellow. We walked out of one deserted place because it was too deserted. We were back out in the hot, heavily policed street, standing in front of a closed door contemplating our next move. The closed door opened and a hand beckoned. Someone inside said, do come in.
We tentatively peeked in. There was live music, a handful of silent, sullen, drinking men, and a dozen fat bottomed women belly dancing between the tables. They pulled us in and sat us down at a table. One of the women brought us two beers and insisted we dance. We declined politely, trying to get our bearings in the gaudy Christmas lit long room full of jiggling bosoms and shimmying bums and wailing singers. We were in a brothel.
We sat at our table, sipped our wonderful cool beer, negotiated our bar tab, and giggled with the girls who danced with fat hip gyrations so fierce they were nearly dislocated.
I’ve never seen such large breasts bursting forth in a shimmy.
We were offered the services of one Sapphically open-minded sparkling woman. The boyish pimps giggled and danced and chatted with us until we finished our beers.
We paid the bill (cheaper than anywhere else so far) and bade them all adieu.
We stepped out of the whorehouse and into the bellowing, sultry robocop night.
Men were still shouting from the rooftops.
Cairo still roared.