The very first night in Beirut we went to a music festival in Achrafieh. Najwa Karam was singing at the festival. I had never heard of her before, but one of the members of our group had several of her CD’s. At the mall a few days later, I actually bought one of her CD’s. My roommate and I have listened to it several nights! The best part of the music festival was all of the people dancing and singing along to Najwa. Another group member blogged and pointed out something that I found very interesting. Generally when Americans think of a large group of people gathering in the streets in the Middle East, the Western mentality automatically assumes it is a riot or a protest. However, this was a large gathering of happy people dancing and singing in the streets, which served as a great contrast to the media portrayal of the Middle East.
The other night we went to the Music Hall. At the Music Hall we saw numerous performances. Each group only performed 3 or 4 songs and then there was also music in between. The music in between was generally American top 40 hits. The performed songs varied from traditional Arabic to Spanish Salsa to American rock and roll. All of the performers were incredible and I would have enjoyed listening to any one of them the whole time. It was a big surprise to sing along to a performance of The Village People’s “YMCA” and Aerosmith’s “Dream On” in a Music Hall in Beirut.
Another night we went to see Caracalla perform. Caracalla is an international dance group that is a unique blend of Western and Oriental dance styles. The best part about the show was that it was performed at Beitedine, a historical palace that we toured earlier in the day. A live orchestra performed all the music for the show and it was incredibly well done. There were about four parts to the show and only the final act had singing along with the orchestra. The singing was breathtaking! Some other group members were able to get photos on their fancy cameras, so hopefully I can share those with everyone soon.
Finally, last night we went to Skybar. Skybar is one of the top clubs in Beirut. Usually you need a reservation nearly a month in advance to get in, but our generous hosts (The Lebanon Renaissance Foundation) got us a reservation! The club was a ton of fun and way more exciting than any bar I’ve ever been to before anywhere in the world. I was surprised that the music at Skybar was basically the same as what you would hear in a US club, lots of Top 40 hits from America with a few Spanish songs mixed in.