Arts + Culture

World's Sexiest Dances

by Beata Loyfman

The dance: BELLY DANCE

Where to see it: Egypt and Turkey

Sexy factor: Undulating hips and plunging necklines—if you're into that kind of thing

The moves: In fact, Shakira did not invent belly dance. Her admittedly fine hips are amateurs compared to the erotic pelvic swivels and jaw-dropping stomach palpitations of true Middle Eastern practitioners. The first Westerners to see Raqs Sharqi ("dance from the East") were Napoleon's troops when they invaded Egypt in 1798. But Egyptians aren't alone: Belly dancing is also big in Turkey, where skimpier costumes and more overt sexuality is allowed.

The stage: The annual Ahlan Wa Sahlan Festival held in Cairo's Mena House Oberoi hotel. Thousands gather to see legends like 35-year dance veteran Khairiyya Mazin perform the Ghawazee dances that enraptured the French. In Turkey, Istanbul's Kervansaray Restaurant & Night Club has been serving dinner with a side of hip thrusts since 1949.

Do a little dance: After a few lessons at Raqia Hassan's Cairo-based school, you too will rock the casbah. Or try a weeklong seminar on Turkey's Aegean coast at the Gokpinar Music & Dance Center; it even includes accommodations and dining in a traditional Turkish village house.

Ahlan Wa Sahlan Festival and Raqia Hassan Private Dance Lessons
Tel: 202 74 823 38
Festival dates: June 27 to July 3, 2007
Two-hour dance class, $30 per person

Kervansaray Restaurant & Night Club
Tel: 90 212 247 1630

Gokpinar Music & Dance Center
Tel: 866 966 3166
Weeklong accommodations, lessons, and meals, $850 per person

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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