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Welcome to August's Zameena!

(Zameenafrom Zara's Zoukaims to share LOVE, empowerment and knowledge of bellydance)

We're sure you'll agree, it's a HOT one!

As the sun continues to shine, at least here in the northern hemisphere, we hope you are enjoying the summer heat.

We have a hot potato of a topic this month as our resident writer, Cassandra Fox, talks menstruation and gives us some tips on how to manage our periods whilst dancing (or anytime really)! 
The read may help you feel less alone when the cramps and pains kick in and her 10 tips give us ways to cope.
We love her openness on this, sometimes taboo, subject and hope you do too!  Maybe it will help to breakdown some barriers.

Music Corner features .... Well I'll let you guess!.... but there are a host of special songs which are HOT favourites wherever you go to dance in Cairo right now, so get with the beat and shimmy away!

Info Spot is a celebration of "Belly Dance" festivals worldwide and features an upcoming festival here in the UK

Looking to transform your dance? We have news of a Zara's Zouk upcoming weekend dance intensive, here in London, with an admired and greatly loved Cairo star!

So, please grab a cuppa, sit back, relax and enjoy!

If reading form an external link? SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE to Zameena here
The Bloody Truth:
A guide to surviving dancing with your period
by Cassandra Fox
If you have a Uterus there is a solid chance you have had a period.

There is also an excellent chance that it has arrived with the worst timing possible.

As if your ovaries were involved in a malevolent plot of self-sabotage of their host.

It is cruel, it is unjust, but it is nature.
I know this, for some, may be a taboo topic. Many of us have been raised to stay quiet about our periods, to hide our menstrual products, to feel a certain shame about this very natural process. You might be uncomfortable just reading about it, which is why I feel the following disclaimer is moderately important.

I am uncouth, or so I have been told. I was born and raised in a farming area which blessed me with witnessing and experiencing many things from a young age and as a result my threshold for “gross” is pretty vast. My educational background is in human health sciences so I just don’t see natural body functions and a big deal, if anything I find it confusing that so many are still considered rude or taboo.  (To clarify, I get that burping/ farting etc at a dinner table is plain rude, but I don’t think it should be a big deal to excuse yourself from the table to that you can go and fart/burp lol).
I want to share a little anedcdote with you before we get into our period talk. This happened about 4 or 5 years ago, at the restaurant that I have been dancing at since the start of 2012. I had made the ever foolish mistake of eating something that I know gives me indigestion one afternoon. I had multiple shows that evening, 2 of which were at the restaurant. After my first show I trundled in to the basement where the staff bathrooms, fridges, office etc  are. This is a safe space from the public, a space for just employees. A space that when I finished my show and was coming down to change and I assumed the absolute silence of the area was a sign that I was alone. 
The ghost of my poutine (see photo) from earlier that afternoon roared out of me  in the form of a triumphant belch (because indigestion). I giggled and felt relieved but that relief was short lived as I suddenly heard someone moving. 
Out of the office stepped one of my bosses, bewildered by what he had just heard. He looked at me and looked around, all around, eyes desperately seeking to see another human, when it was evident there was no one else his eyes came back to me and he spluttered, “Was that you?”

In this moment I knew that I could have made up some weak lie,  said one of the guys from the kitchen was in the bathroom or something, but I seized this opportunity to own the fact that I too, despite my false eyelashes, bedazzled décolleté, and general aura of glitter was in fact just a human.
“Yes it was. Excuse me I didn’t realize anyone else was down here. Sorry.”
Then I started laughing.
A laugh that was a blend of a 12 year old when someone burps and the nervous laugh of having been seen unfiltered by your boss.  To my delight and possibly his trauma he chuckled too and said,
“I did not see that coming”.  The veil had been lifted so to speak.  It was actually moderately liberating, but not something I would like to make a habit out of.  My boss appears to still like me, so there is that at least.
As dancers many of us feel the need to portray this air of mystery, to be ethereal, other wordly, and endlessly classy.

Those are all fine, and if you’re most comfortable never talking about periods that is cool too. Some people enjoy having that mystery around them. If you like it then roll with it. Personally I always found it exhausting.

I have also always found it annoying that we exist in this catch 22 situation around our periods.

If we are upset, angry, or sad and someone wants to dismiss us and our feelings and reasons they may very well make that comment that most of us have heard AT LEAST once in our life:
“What is your problem? Are you on your period or something?”
“Is it that time of the month?” 
“Looks like someone is on the rag.” blah blahblah. 
Because of this many of us decline to talk about our periods or admit when we are on them for fear of the instant dismissal of our thoughts and feelings simply because we are surfing the crimson wave.

*Side eye to the patriarchy*

Conversely if you have ever been so bold as to own it and reply to someone trying to dismiss your feelings as being “PMS” and you say, “Actually yes I am on my period.” there is a 90% chance you were met with the response of,
“EW gross. Keep it to yourself. No one wants to hear that.” or
“That’s too much information.”   or
“Women are disgusting.”

*Harder side eye to the patriarchy*
Compile the above dichotomy with the all the misinformation and stigma around periods, such as that:
“periods are the body’s way of detoxifying after promiscuity”,
“periods are unnatural”,
“women on their period are actually toxic and/or unclean”
and all the euphemisms we have so we don’t have to say the dreaded word “period” (ie. surfing the crimson wave, visited by Aunt Flow, THAT time of the month, lady issues, women’s troubles) and you have a culture where we still have those with a uterus that menstruates suffering in silence. 
I am over it.
Periods can really suck. While they vary from individual to individual they really can impact your day to day life. They can impact your quality of sleep. The massive hormonal fluxes throughout the course of a month are indeed felt by many of us, but seldom talked about outside the confines of “girl talk”. We don’t want to be seen as “weaker” or “more emotional”. But why does acknowledging these monthly changes that approximately half the population goes through make us “weaker” or “too emotional”? They are literally the facts of life, and part of our biology and it's through facing them and acknowledging them that it is easier to deal with them to minimize (if possible) their effects.
This clip from South Park is one of my favourite pieces of period satire.
Realistically it is actually physiologically impressive that we can bleed for 5 days and not die. Hell I have bled for 10 days before and didn’t die. Although truth be told by day 8 I was wondering if it was going to kill me.
The truth is the fact that those of us dealing with our periods are actually STRONG and CAPABLE. We keep going and do what we have to do as best as we can; even when we are literally shedding tissue from our insides, bleeding from our vagina and crying and that Royale toilet paper commercial. You know the one, with the fluffy kittens… They’re just so fluffy *wipes tear*
Back to another anecdote, involving my same boss who heard my illustrious burp many years ago. Last year it was day one of my period. Sometimes mine literally roar in and kick off with a headache, full bloat boobs and belly, angry honey badger cramps, and rage bleeding. Many times my first day will fall on a night where I have multiple shows. It is awful. Honestly, I just want to be in bed having taken an Aleve, snuggling my cats, drinking mint tea and whimpering.  But there I am in a costume, with my bloated belly out, and my tender tatas hoisted up high, trying to be Beauty when I feel like Beast. It’s a bad time.

My poor, unsuspecting boss asks, “How are you tonight?” and in a moment of unfiltered honesty I sighed and said,
“It’s the first day of my period. I feel like crap and I am just not into it today.” Luckily, familiar with my uncouth tendencies at this point he laughs and says,
“Of all things, I was not expecting you to say that!”
At this point I was as shocked by what I had said as he was and I chuckled and said, “Neither was I.”
He laughed again and was like, “Okay let’s get started.” 

 And that is the reality of it, Period or not, the show must go on, and so you shimmy on with your enraged ovaries, the whole time wondering why do humans even have a period anyway? 
Rude nature. 

Just rude!!!

So, as someone who has shimmied on, doing performances, weekend intensive workshops, 8 hour red eye flights, and back in the day, even horse shows and all while menstruating, here are my tips for surviving dancing on your period:
1. WATER, WATER, WATER – Stay hydrated . Drink lots of water. Avoid pop, and avoid over indulging on heavily caffeinated beverages and beverages that have diuretic tendencies (tea, coffee etc). I am not going to tell you to not have ANY tea or coffee, because I am not a monster and even I can’t pull that off, but I do recommend limiting your intake.
2. Chart your cycle – Honestly, if you don’t already keep a log of cycle AND your symptoms, start doing so. Doing this has helped me a lot. I KNOW I will be at my most cantankerous and volatile mood the 5 days BEFORE my period starts, and then the first 2 or 3 days of my period itself. The cramps can start the day or 2 before the period starts and then unfortunately last the whole period.. Know your heavy flow days. Know which symptoms you do get. I also get heavy fatigue and intense headaches. There are many apps available now for logging your period and its symptoms; even the FitBit app has it. I actually really love that portion of the app. I have found it very helpful. Knowing what to expect and when to expect it can help you to prepare (and maybe even warn others lol). It can also help you to pinpoint if some things are suspicious or irregular in which case you should consult a doctor about them.
3. Invest in a good Foundation/Concealer (if you need to)  – If you are like me and many others, your period likes to add insult to injury by adding the flourish of acne to every cycle. As if it hasn’t already done enough.  Get a good coverage foundation and concealer to help cover the acne, and a really good primer to help hold it in place while sweating.  You already have enough to worry about and work through, at least give yourself some peace of mind that your inflamed pores can be temporarily incognito. 

4. Pain Killers – If you have bad cramps and/or headaches sometimes an over the counter pain relief  medication is the difference between being able to function and being found 2 days later in the fetal position with your hair unbrushed by concerned friends. I literally always have Aleve, Advil and Tylenol in my dance bag. Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. You should however take them for the first time when you have a day off to see if you have any reaction or side effects to them and find which one works best for you. 

Picture link to: money saving, sanitary products + info (UK site but ideas  transferable worldwide)
5. Keep a “Period Pack” in your dance bag – I always have a little makeup bag in my dance bag that has tampons , pads, painkillers,  and chocolate  (In the winter months at least, don’t keep chocolate in your dance bag in hot weather, it will literally get messy). 
Another great thing to have with you is a cotton bag with rice, oats or beans in it for heating up to put on particularly fierce cramps. The heat helps.

6. Chocolate – I don’ know why it helps, but it helps. My top 5 period chocolate fixes are
Lindt Milk Chocolate with Almonds, Lindt Milk Chocolate Crunchie, Cadbury Milk Chocolate with Pretzels and Peanut Butter, Swiss dark 70% cocoa Chocolate, and basically any chocolate cake someone donates to me.  #sendcakeplease 

7. Know What Fuel Works Best for YOUR Body – Periods can often make us crave foods that will make us feel good while eating them, but then feel terribe once digestion has started. For me this is salty or greasy food (ie. French fries). I feel so at peace while I am eating them, until the sodium aggravates my symptoms and  then I have worse period symptoms AND indigestion. You have to find the right balance for your body. I often ask myself, “Do I have the time to eat this and recover?" If I have time (such as a day without having to dance) then I will fall victim to my fry lust and take the temporary worsening of cramps  with indigestion in exchange for the 10 minutes of bliss while eating my fries. If I have to dance I stay away from the fries, it will only make things worse for me. Similarly making sure I stick to foods that don’t give me indigestion and that help me feel energized when I am dancing on my period is a good way to make the best of a bad situation.
8. Sometimes moving does actually help – When you dance professionally it's not really an option to opt out of a show someone has booked months in advance because you are on you period. You also can’t bow out of a weekend of teaching workshops etc. You have to show up and be professional and still do your best to give your best performance, despite all the symptoms a period can bring. It is hard but you can possibly power through it depending on the severity of your symptoms.  I get really bad cramps. The kind that take your breath away and make you feel like it is hard to breathe. They can make you light headed and make you feel like any position other than the fetal position is untenable. Having had to perform in this state I did learn that getting yourself up and moving can actually help. Maybe it is the adrenaline? Maybe its circulation of moving? Who knows? I just know that I usually feel better after moving around. No matter how opposed I was to moving at all prior to actually moving, lol. 

9. Find The Best Menstruation Products For YOUR Body and Needs  – I feel confident that I can’t be the only one who has discovered that each tampon brand has its own “shape” and "bloom” and that depending on your own personal anatomy you might find some more comfortable and less likely to leak than others.
 Maybe they all work for you?

Maybe you have had great success with the menstrual cup (I did not, but I know those who have - inc. Zara).  
Picture link to: money saving, sanitary products + info (UK site but ideas  transferable worldwide)

I use Playtex brand in my dance bag, but if I do not have to dance I use reusable period pads that are made with 100% cotton. I love mine. I have not had a major leak yet and have no skin irritation unlike with plastic based pads. Reusable cotton pads are also like a gory version of “Ink stain art”, if you’re into seeing if your blood can perhaps appear as a butterfly. 

10. Remember it is okay, to not be okay – It’s okay to be emotional, to be grumpy, to be in pain, to be not up to doing something. In the past I have been very guilty of not saying anything, trying to go along like everything was fine and thinking I was doing so successfully when really I was obviously off colour to those around me and they took it personally. I really should have just been honest and said,
“Hey, it’s actually the phase in my period where I am really grumpy and in a lot of pain so please know my leaving early, declining to come, resting b*tch face, snappiness etc is NOT personal. It’s just hard for me to get a handle on right now. Please know it has nothing to do with you.”
I have seen that since I started doing this many people (admittedly not all) have been very understanding and relieved to know that it was not about them. 

As I write this, I am 3 days pre period. I have 12 spots on my face. My boobs hurt, I am toddler level sad/tired/grumpy. It is a Friday and a long weekend here so I am booked solid for the next 3 days, but I have chocolate and Aleve. I will get through this and to anyone else working while bleeding from their vagina, so will you 💓
The end........ Until the next month's visit.. ….... 
That was a good, uplifting read on a topic
which needs to be aired more than it is.
Your anecdotes made me laugh out loud!
From all of us at Zameena - thanks again!

Well, we can't let Cassandra go without seeing her shimmy, so here she is dancing to a great favourite,    
Amya Sayad by Mahmoud El Lithy

Bet you can't help but dance along - enjoy!
And don't forget, YOU can Learn Online with Cassandra: 

For Skype Classes, email: 
Join her on Patreon:

And Learn Live with Cassandra:

CANADA, 10th August 2019 
Performing to live music with
Guy Schalom and Cassandra

BRAZIL, 30/08 to 1/09/2019
 Arabic Festival Internacional 

CANADA, 17th NOV. 2019
Cassandra Returns to Barrie

USA, 7th-8th DEC 2019
Cassandra's Caribbean Invasion
And Connect Online:
Facebook Profile

Facebook Page
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   Shahrzad is coming to London !!  
Zara's Zouk is very excited to announce that we will be hosting CAIRO SUPERSTAR SHAHRZAD for an intensive weekend of workshops and performance
April 25-26th 2020. 

We are telling YOU, our Zameena readers, FIRST before anyone else giving you the opportunity to buy the 1st Release EARLYBIRD TICKETS: which are Amazingly priced:
 but VERY limited in numbers. This is a crazy discount!

We will not be announcing these workshops on social media till next month. DON'T WASTE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO BOOK BEFORE anyone else and get the Earlybird price!
And tell your friends! 
with Zara Dance
Should I just give up and call this Mohamed Ramadan Corner?
I think so.  

I know what you are saying but I just could not ignore his new release this month.
I could mention something else,
like Amr Diab's new release, Bahebo: listen here, or maybe Mahmoud el Lithy and Bosy's new release (out yesterday): listen here. But.....I have come to the conclusion it would be doing the Music Corner a dis-service. I want readers to get a feel that they are in Cairo listening to what we are listening to here, now.

To put this all into context, on the day of Mohamed Ramadan's new release, a duo with Saad Lamjarred, an article popped up in my Facebook feed that questioned the unusual duo.  So,I listened to the song and thought nothing more of it. That very night I went to a night club/disco and the song started playing.  EVERYONE STARTED SINGING ALONG!! How did they all know it already? But I suppose I had already heard it too.

Two days later I go to a costume maker's house for a fitting. I was there a couple of hours and, I kid you not, he had this song on repeat the whole time! AHHHHHHH

Anyway, the music video is above for you  and, at a beefy 7-8 min long, it has some story at the beginning. There are English subtitles if you watch on a computer. The main line says, 'Good bye' but personally I think it sounds more like they are saying "Dubai" lol.
But don't despair!  I refuse to make this all about Mohamed Ramadan so I am going to give you THREE MORE SONGS that also got everyone singing along in the club that night. The first two are recent hits from this year and the last is slightly older. 

IF YOU ARE AT A PARTY, be it a wedding, birthday, night club or cabaret, be it with the upper classes or with the working classes the probability is that these songs will play. 
Get your CAIRO on - shimmy and improvise away:
1) The first song is Ayam Bahr El Ghadr "Days at the seaside of Ghadr"  by Ahmed Ezzat and Ali Samara. This song was released this year and despite not having a proper music video and not having featured on any music channel it shows the POWER of the PEOPLE with shaabi music. It has clocked over 50 million views and everyone knows this trance-mahragan song.
2) OMG I LOVE THIS SONG and that is saying something because it is not a Shaabi tune and actually has more of a Gulf feel to it than Egyptian. It is a cute love song by Egyptian superstar Mohamed Hamaki - definitely touches my heart. There is no music video to it but it has surpassed some of his other tunes that do have music videos, showing just how lovely and popular it is. A great song for a little Khaliji-Egyptian fusion I think.....What about you?
3) This song does have a music video and was released just under a year ago but OMG it is still such a MASSIVE hit. I have noticed that it is VERY MUCH loved by ALL ARABS. I work on a Nile cruise boat so we have lots of visitors from different Arab countries and whenever we play this song THEY ALL KNOW IT even more so than when we play Abdul Halim Hafez and Ahmed Adawaya songs. The song is Khatwa "Step by step" by Mostafa Hagag a great choice for mixed Arab audiences ... 
by Sandra and Zara
We talk Bellydance Festivals, in general and one in particular
which we have been involved in for several years now
We're taking this opportunity to voice our appreciation to and admiration of the dedicated organisers  who work tirelessly to bring us amazing festivals across the world related to this wonderful dance form which we all love. THANK YOU!!
And another big THANK YOU to all the dancers who support these events. After all, they would be nothing without YOU!! 

There seems to have been an increase in the number and quality of festivals happening across the UK. From Northern Ireland to Scotland to England there are wonderful opportunities to attend a festival with top level, International teachers. We like to take this as a positive sign that our dance is in a healthy state. 
So What Is It That Makes Festivals So Popular?
  • Being with a group of like minded people - friends!
  • The friendly, safe, supportive, community atmosphere
  • The opportunity to fully immerse yourself in DANCE
  • All under one roof so no need to travel back and forth
  • You can attend alone but you quickly make friends
  • Escaping from the everyday world into a dance dream
  • The chance to try something new
  • Lots of vendors present.
  • The shows
  • The parties, the fun and chance to let your hair down
  • You leave feeling refreshed and motivated in your dance
  • The range of teachers
  • The choice of workshops/styles offered
  • Did I mention the fun and the opportunities to  dance????
One amazing, upcoming UK festival we would like to bring your attention to:
You get all the above and more! 
It's all under one roof - in a spa hotel!
Amazingly affordable.  
It's in a beautiful corner of England, Devon, so if you don't feel like coming alone this is the ideal festival to bring along your non-dancing partner. He/She can stay in the hotel and enjoy the spa (swimming pool, jacuzzi, steam room, sauna) or go out exploring the countryside whilst you enjoy your choice of workshops.  Then meet up for the evening meal and party shenanigans - perfect!
There's ample opportunity to try a new teacher, a new dance style or a new prop or to revisit and deepen your knowledge of your favourite style. There's sure to be enough on offer to please all tastes!

Check out the story behind Celebrating Dance on their website. It, and the people involved are super special, so why not book yourself a place? 

Would Love To See You There!!!
...... Upcoming Events With Zara ......
NORWAY 18-20th October: 
Zara will be teaching 3 workshops and performing at  
Zamila Orientalske Danseforening 20 år - Magedansfestival! 
Click for more details
TORQUAY 25-27th October: 
Zara will be teaching 3 workshops and performing at
Celebrating Dance Festival(Zara's Zouk will be there too!)

Click for more details

Zara would love to meet up with you in Bergen or Torquay.

Or if you are in Cairo between now and October why not watch Zara at one of her shows? 
Message her for up to the minute info on where she is dancing in Cairo.

Stay in touch with Zara:
Zara Dance's Facebook Page   Zara Abdelrahman's Facebook Profile
Thanks again to Cassandra!

And a big THANK YOU, to you for reading
Please, do take advantage of our
1st release Earlybird tickets.
They are specially for you!!
You will not find training with Shahrzad, at this price, anywhere else!
Even if you were to come to Cairo!!  

 Till next month 💓 from 
Zara and Sandra 

(The Mother/daughter team at Zara's Zouk)
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