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London is full of magical Middle Eastern restaurants (such as Souk Medina, pictured right), clubs & bars where belly dancers perform regularly - for instance, check out the area around Edgeware Road for Arabic, Stoke Newington for Turkish & Finchley for Iranian venues - you just have to be there are the right time of night to catch their performance!
If you especially want to see a belly dancer, call the restaurant to check what time the shows take place; or restaurants can often hire a belly dancer for your party when you place your booking
Alternatively, you can arrange for your own belly dancer to come to the venue for your special event (though you should let the venue know in advance, so they can make any necessary practical arrangements)
Here are some of the many excellent venues where belly dancers (& sometimes also musicians) perform regularly ...
Central London ...
AYOUSH - Marylebone (58 James Street W1U 1HG, tel 020 7486 1552) -restaurant & private dining club with belly dancers - "fantastically fun & buzzy high-quality north African restaurant / bar with casbah-style decor & themed 'caves' downstairs" - a lovely friendly atmosphere!
DAR MARRAKESH - Piccadilly circus (Trocadero Centre W1D 7DH, tel 020 7287 0479) - "This Moroccan cafe restaurant serves delicious food, drink & shisha in a beautiful atmosphere. There's great music & belly dancing."
EFES II (left - belly dancer Giselle performing) - Fitzrovia (175-177 Great Portland Street W1W 5PA, tel 020 7436 0600) (pictured left) - "One of the best deals in town, the freshest food at very reasonable prices. The atmosphere is very friendly & buzzy, & the restaurant is beautifully decorated to reflect true authentic Turkish style. Most nights the club entertains customers with live Turkish music & belly dancing. Sit down & enjoy the dance or try your belly dancing skills when the dancer mingles with the audience."
ISHTAR - Marylebone (10-12 Crawford Street W1U 6AZ, tel 020 7224 2446) (Turkish singing superstar Tarkan is pictured at the restaurant, right) - "Step into the warmth & style of Ishtar, a modern Turkish restaurant & bar in Marylebone." "Upstairs a restaurant, downstairs more of a classy bar/lounge restaurant with Turkish music playing in the evenings, with live singers & special live music events," plus belly dancers
ISIS restaurant & late night bar - Mayfair (50 Dover Street W1S 4NY, tel 0871 223 2990) - "Located in the heart of Mayfair, Isis is a stunning Lebanese restaurant & late night bar. As you descend the candlelit solid brass stairs, the décor is middle-eastern with decorative hand carved panelling, brass ornaments, lanterns, seductive draping & scattered cushions. Enjoy a relaxed, informal meal of delicious meze & grills. Belly dancers perform on Wednesday to Saturday evenings, & resident DJs continue the night until late."
KASLIK (right) - Soho (58 Greek Street W1D 3DY, tel 020 7851 1585) - "Named after an enchanting & attractive town in Lebanon, Kaslik brings the authentic taste of the famed ancient Lebanese cuisine to vibrant Soho." "A fabulous choice for group meals & celebrations. Not only is Lebanese cooking perfect for sharing, but this restaurant has great space for parties & dancing & the downstairs room, hung with rich colours & furnished with cushioned benches, low brass tray tables & leather footstools, can be reserved for private parties."
LEVANT - Marylebone (Jason Court, 76 Wigmore Street W1, tel 020 7224 1111) - classy middle eastern meze bar & restaurant with belly dancers, "Incense, candles, rose petals floating on water & nightly belly dancers are all cited as reasons to cram into this popular basement sibling to Levantine ... a place to cherish for its atmosphere." Spectacular nightly shows with several belly dancers
MAISON TOUAREGUE restaurant - Soho (23 Greek Street W1D 4D2, tel 020 7439 1063) (right) - "Allow Maison Touaregue to transport you from the heart of Soho to the southern Sahara desert. Sample the delights of north African cuisine prepared by our Lebanese & Moroccan chefs. Settle in admist the candles & cushions." Open to 3am, belly dancer on Friday & Saturday nights
MAMOUNIA LOUNGE - Mayfair (37a Curzon Street W1J 7TX, tel 020 7629 2211) - "The Moroccan sanctuary - expensive bar, lounge & restaurant, dancing every night", "Mamounia's allure is its luxuriously elegant decor that lets you retreat to the far land of Morocco. The decor is crushed velvet pillars, silk cushions & low level seating with candles & incense."
MOMO - Mayfair (27 Heddon Street W1B 4BH) - north African restaurant, tea room & bazaar (based on a Moroccan souk), & kemia bar (Arabic tapas served to a backdrop of progressive world music), "its unique, heady atmosphere ... coupled with the highly reputable cuisine have contributed to the success of this restaurant, now hailed as a London institution"
SIMURG - Covent Garden (17 Garrick Street, tel 020 7240 7811) - small Persian (Iranian) restaurant in the heart of Covent Garden serving authentic food, with belly dancers Fridays & Saturdays
SOUK BAZAAR - Covent Garden (27 Litchfield Street WC2H 9NJ, tel 020 7240 1796) - north African tea room/bar/restaurant with belly dancers, "experience the best north African cuisine in London", "a fun atmosphere for a thoroughly enjoyable & memorable time", "fantastic north African food at great value prices", sister restaurant to Souk Medina below
SOUK MEDINA - Covent Garden (1a Shorts Gardens WC2A 9AT, tel 020 7240 1796) (pictured at the top of the page) - see Souk Bazaar details (above)
EL CANTARA - Soho (45 Frith Street W1D 4SD, tel 020 7734 6868) (left) - "Bringing you the best in north African & Spanish cuisine to the heart of Soho. Belly dancing every Frday & Saturday - you can either get up & dance or watch as the dancer performs." Plus Spanish classical guitarist on Sundays
Central - Eastern ...
DARBUCKA - Clerkenwell (182 St John Street, EC1V 4JZ, tel 020 7490 8295) - world music bar & gallery bistro with belly dancers, hosting regular & one-off world music events & club nights, including the spectacular monthly Planet Egypt showcase
KENZA - Liverpool Street (10 Devonshire Square, EC2M 4YP, tel 020 7929 5533) - "Kenza is an ode to refinement & luxury. Be charmed by middle eastern hospitality & relish the richness of homestyle Moroccan dishes." DJ & spectacular nightly shows with several belly dancers
Central - Edgeware Road area ...
ARIANA - Bayswater (108 Bourne Terrace W2 5TH, telephone 020 7266 9200) - authentic family Afghan/Persian restaurant in Bayswater with Arabic singers, musicians & belly dancers, friendly service, good food & great family atmosphone on Friday, Saturday & Sunday night
HAFEZ 1 RESTAURANT - Bayswater (5 Hereford Road W2 4AB, tel 020 7229 9398), Persian / Iranian restaurant with live music & belly dancers at weekends
LEVANTINE - Paddington (26 London Street W2 1HH, tel 020 7224 1111) (above right) authentic middle eastern/Lebanese restaurant with belly dancers, "a recipe for seduction",
MAROUSH & RANOUSH restaurants Marble Arch (pictured left) - "a taste of Lebanese luxury in London", the famous group of restaurants centred around the Marble Arch area, open to 5am most days, with live music & Lebanese belly dancing every night - expensive, but worth it!
MAWAL - Paddington (65 Edgeware Road W2 2HZ, tel 020 7262 7262), Lebanese restaurant with live music & belly dancers
ROTANA - Paddington (11 Sale Place W2 1PX, tel 020 7706 0022) - "Rotana cafe & lounge bar uses the finest ingredients to prepare traditional Lebanese cuisine, accompanied by excellent service in a stylish setting," shows with live music & belly dancers
TARBOUSH II - Paddington (143 Edgeware Road W2 1DW, tel 020 7706 9793), Lebanese restaurant with belly dancers
Central - south of Hyde Park ...
AMNESIA - Clapham (5 Lavender Hill, SW11 5QW, tel 020 7228 8775) "A stylish Moroccan-themed bar with belly dancers & authentic nibbles. With regular DJs playing old & new House on Fridays & Saturdays, & live music on Sundays, Amnesia certainly isn't one to forget!" Serves Moroccan & Greek snacks & finger foods.
AZIZ (left) - Fulham (24-32 Vanston Place, SW6 1AX, tel 020 7386 0086) restaurant & Mediterranean market place (Del'Aziz) - "Aziz is an elegant exotic space, a contemporary take on an eastern souk. Enjoy morning Moroccan teas & breakfasts, light lunches, mezze & cocktails, bar bites & weekend brunches to 3-course lunches & candle-lit dinners."
COUS COUS DARNA - South Kensington (91 Old Brompton Rd SW7 3LD, tel 020 7584 2919) (pictured right) - "Feel the heat of the Moroccan desert at Cous Cous Darna - the fire of the people, the warmth of the hues & the passion in the cooking ... an authentic outpost of North Africa in the heart of South Ken. Don't miss the shisha pipe. Belly dancers at the weekend."
ISHBILIA - Knightsbridge (9 William Street SW1X 9HL, tel 020 7235 7788), "Ishbilia serves a variety of Lebanese dishes & can cater for private parties of up to 100 guests. Live music & belly dancers every Thursday, Friday & Saturday," performances every day in summer
MEDEA brasserie - Fulham (561 Kings Road SW6 2EB, tel 020 7736 2333) (pictured below right) - "Relax & let us take you to the land of mystery & exotic flavours, & sample the delights of Moroccan cuisine, famous for being healthy & wholesome." Belly dancer Fridays & Saturdays
MIMOUZA - Shepherds Bush (21 West 12 Shopping Centre, Shepherds Bush Green W12 8PP, tel 020 8743 2200) - "The real taste of Moroccan cuisine. Visiting Mimouza is an experience that will leave an ever truly lasting impression on all our guests who will enjoy the lavish atmosphere, wonderful cous cous & tagines, not to mention the ambience & spectacular performance of Gnawa UK & live belly dancing. In Mimouza restaurant, we exhibit a wide range of Moroccan handicrafts, the works of the greatest master craftsmen in Morocco."
PASHA - Kensington (1 Glouchester Road SW7 4PP, tel 020 7589 7969) (right) - "a Moroccan oasis in the heart of Kensington", "Sexy, classy, wow!... Pasha easily inspires compliments. Colourful lanterns, sweet incense, Arabic music, silk cushions galore, curved stucco door frames, and candlelit alcoves make for a gorgeously opulent Moroccan space ... Beautiful belly dancers entertain Pasha's posh crowd every evening." Spectacular twice nightly shows with several belly dancers
North London ...
GALLIPOLI BAZAAR - Islington (107 Upper Street N1 1QP, tel 020 7226 5333) (pictured right & below left) - cafe/restaurant serving Lebanese, Turkish & Mediterranean cuisine - "Gallipoli Bazaar's exotically decorated cosy interior with low lighting, low tables & cushions conjures up an Ottoman coffee house. They usually have a DJ playing a selection of background music. Food is great," sister venues Gallipoli Again & Gallipoli Cafe
GALLIPOLI AGAIN - Islington (120 Upper Street N1 1QP, tel 020 7226 8099), see details for Gallipoli Bazaar (above)
GALLIPOLI CAFE BISTRO - Islington (102 Upper Street N1 1QP, tel 020 7359 0630), see details for Gallipoli Bazaar (above)
HAFEZ 2 - Finchley (559 Finchley Road NW3 7BJ, tel 020 7794 4179) - Persian / Iranian restaurant with live music & belly dancers at weekends
Tas Magara ('Stone Cave') - Stoke Newington (111 Kingsland High Street, Stoke Newington E8 2PB) - north London Turkish restaurant, "A cave-theme restaurant (you'll either love or hate the fibreglass rock formations) which specialises in Turkish folk song (türkü) but usually with a bigger band than Türkü Cafe Bar (below). The musicians are pretty talented, but the music can be a bit loud!"
Türkü Cafe Bar - Stoke Newington (79 Stoke Newington Road, N16 8AD, telephone 020 7923 1961) - north London Turkish bar, "Small bar with wooden/natural decor specialising in Turkish folk songs (türkü) using saz & guitar. Friday & Saturday nights usually see a small group of musicians & vocalists. Great to sit back & enjoy with some drinks."
THE TRIANGLE - Stroud Green (1 Ferme Park Road N4 4DS, tel 020 8292 0516) Moroccan restaurant & bar, "fantastically decadent", "one of the most original venues in north London", "an absolute gem of a restaurant ... the moment you walk through the door, every sense is stimulated ... art forms from all over the world, lush plants, fountains in the windows & an exquisite garden," with belly dancers at the weekends
Further afield ...
DAR LATIFA restaurant - Middlesex (76 Milton Road, Hampton TW12 2LJ, tel 020 8941 4056) - "A unique Moroccan experience in the heart of quaint Hampton village. Authentic traditional Moroccan & Lebanese cuisine, together with a friendly & casual atmosphere. Latifa was taught to cook in her mother's kitchen in Morocco, recipes passed down from one generation to another. There are a wide variety of Moroccan artifacts on sale."
KOSEM - 500-504 Hertford Road, Enfield EN3 5SS (tel 020 8804 9055) (updated August 2008)
SAFIR - 116 Heath Street, Hampstead NW3 1DR, tel 08713 325 062) (pictured above left) (updated August 2008)SALAMIS (pictured right) - 279 Green Lanes, Green Lanes N4 2EX (tel 020 8880 2260) (updated August 2008)
SHEHREZADE (pictured left) - Kensington (346 Kensington High Street W14 8NS, tel 020 7371 1919) - Persian cuisine in Kensington, Shehrezade restaurant was known for live entertainment by musicians & belly dancers - now closed (updated October 2008)
ZAYTOUNA - Soho (45 Frith Street W1D 4SD, tel 020 7734 6868) - north African cuisine & belly dancers -under new management, renamed El Cantara (updated October 2008)