Yasmina’s B&B: A Slumber Party for Dancers in Cairo

ALL photos in this article are by Yasmina of Cairo

Hey, Lauren?” My new friend Sabrina is peeking around a fluffy drapery.

I’m sitting in a sun-dappled veranda, groggily clutching my coffee mug. It’s 9am, but jet lag has knocked me for a loop.

“Aida Nour will be here in a few minutes to give me a lesson. She doesn’t usually come to teach just one person; she’d like it better if there were two of us. Do you want to join?”

Thirty minutes later I was in the studio with Sabrina, trying to follow Aida Nour’s graceful juiciness across the floor — and that was just the beginning of my first full day in Cairo.

I was hit with this kind of dream-world question several times a day while I was staying at Yasmina’s Dancers B&B in Cairo. Do I want to go out to a club to see Sahar Samara or Dina? Do I want to join in for a baladi class with live musicians? Everyone is going to have a photo shoot in the desert, do I want some photos too?

I said yes to some things and no to others, but I never stopped reeling from the opportunities. Yasmina’s sprawling apartment is like a continuous slumber party for dancers, with a dreamy studio in the middle and a view of the Pyramids from the balcony. You could show up here alone, with no plans at all, and end up with a dance trip beyond your wildest imagination.

If you’ve always wanted to study belly dance and shop for costumes in Cairo but you were intimidated by putting the details together or finding your way around Cairo alone, Yasmina is here to make all your dreams come true.

Yasmina: The English Rose of Cairo

Yasmina has been an Egyptian oriental dancer for more than 30 years and has lived in Cairo for 24 years. She’s originally from England, but she speaks fluent Arabic and has connections at every level of the industry, including instructors, musicians, and costume designers.

In her rooftop apartment in Giza, she offers dancers a comfortable place to stay with two delicious home-cooked meals each day. She’ll also help you coordinate dance classes, shop for costumes, and organize sightseeing tours. She can also arrange an escort or driver for any activities you have in mind. The dance studio in the apartment is available for you to practice what you’ve learned, or to study with Yasmina or any of the legendary Cairo teachers she works with regularly.

Yasmina is also a talented fashion photographer, who worked with world-class clients in London. The photo shoots that were going on around me in the apartment were mind-blowing.

Imagine this scene: The living room is full of dancers in pincurls, sewing kits sprawled around them as they make last-minute adjustments to their new designer treasures.

A makeup artist has set up her makeshift studio at the dining room table and is transforming amateurs and pros alike for the camera. In the studio, Yasmina is pulling out stunning baladi dresses, veils, and accessories for the models to borrow.

Soon she’s shooting each woman in different locations — in front of the pyramids, on the curtained veranda — before the whole group leaves in a flurry of glitter and giggles to be photographed at some mysterious desert location.

Dance, dance, and more dance

Yasmina manages dance tours for small groups as well as individuals, so if your troupe or class wants to travel as a group to Cairo, she can manage all the details. Traveling alone? You’ll be adopted by new dance friends as soon as you arrive, just like I was.

This video of Shahrzad was filmed in Yasmina’s Dancers B&B, and gives you a good sense of the lavish decor you’ll find there. It’s titled “Dreams of a Dancer,” which incidentally describes exactly what Yasmina is offering.

To find out about current rates (which are very reasonable, in my opinion) and reservations, e-mail yasmina@yasminaofcairo.com or message Yasmina through her Yasmina of Cairo Facebook page.

Here are some other dancer’s experiences in Cairo with Yasmina

One day early in our trip, we planned to go shopping all day at the Khan El Khalili Bazaar, and then see Soraia Zaied’s show at City Stars. When we finished at the bazaar and were on our way in our mini tour bus, we got a flat tire in the middle of horrific Cairo traffic.
Our driver finally got the tire fixed, but we had no time to clean up and change clothes before going to City Stars. Yasmina was in contact with the restaurant manager to make sure he didn’t give our reservation away and we went straight to the 5 Star restaurant, barely making it in time for the show.
We were seated at the front table right next to the stage—in our grubby clothes and disheveled from shopping in the bazaar all day! We were so happy we made it, and Soraia’s show was so great, we didn’t care.
I’ve conducted many tours to Egypt, but the past two tours I’ve collaborated on with Yasmina have been my favorite. She’s very warm and gracious and knows how to make everyone feel comfortable and at home. It’s the best time ever for a dancer!
~ Zahra Zuhair

photo by Yasmina of Cairo

One thing that I love about Yasmina’s is that I have met dancers there from all over the world, because we all pass through there. I met Caroline Chatel from France while staying there and next week my group from the US will have a live music party with a group from South Africa.

And of course Ed and Rosie, Yasmina’s cats, make us all feel at home

~ Shannon Bishop

photo by Yasmina of Cairo

I ‘ve been staying at Yasmina’s for over a decade. When I bring people I stay there. It’s convenient, very comfortable. You can sit in the deck and enjoy the sun and pyramids and drink tea. You can wake up and stretch in the dance studio or take lessons with Egyptian teachers that are so much more valuable than the festival experience. Many local amenities are within walking distance. Yasmina herself is one of my favorite people. She’s incredibly talented and yet so down to earth.
~ Amity Alize

photo by Yasmina of Cairo

Belly dancer Rosa Noreen in Egypt

Yasmina had arranged for us to see Dina’s show in near Tahrir Square, complete with dinner, amazing people-watching, and Dina’s incredible performance. Since the event started around midnight, and Dina came on about 3:30 AM, we got back to the B&B around 5 AM… and caught the most magical view of the sun coming up over the pyramids through the living room window.
Even though we had a full day planned and coming up in just a few short hours, it was impossible not to spend some time on the balcony just taking in the experience. The city was about as quiet as it can get, not a breeze stirring, as we capped off the night with some tea and this view.
~ Rosa Noreen

photo by Yasmina of Cairo