I’d been sucked into going to the cliché ‘Turkish Night’ on my first visit to Goreme, and had a surprisingly good time…partly due to the amount of included raki consumed by myself and my companions. I thought that it might be a fun thing to take Mum along to – while the food was pretty average, I remembered that the entertainment was pretty entertaining. Mum thought it sounded like a great idea, and we decided to invite Wendy, the American woman Mum had been chatting to on the tour, and her brother Chris. Wendy was quite eager, and Chris begrudgingly decided to come.
When we got there it turned out that it was only the four of us and a Korean couple there. We got a table full of mezze while the waiter collected our preferences for chicken or lamb. As our food came, the entertainment began and it was a little embarrassing – all these people performing for only six people. Pretty quickly, however, a few busloads of Japanese tourists arrived, as well as a small group of Turks. They’d eaten elsewhere…I wish that someone had told us that it was possible to go just for the show and not be forced to endure the worst meal that Turkey is capable of producing.
We saw appallingly poor Sufi dancing, a number of belly dancing pieces, and wonderful traditional dances between men and women. Comedic acts were included also, with two guys running around in strange costumes with their arms above their heads as hats and faces painted on their bellies. Of course, it was a show with audience participation and I kind of stood out. The crowd included only four westerners – our table – and amidst a sea of older black-haired Japanese groups my bright red hair kind of stood out. What that meant was that, despite hiding right up the back, every time the performers sought to engage the audience I was the target!
The first time I was dragged up on stage was to play the part of a bride after a dance between a group of men and a group of women. I was sat on a stool in the centre of the stage, with a square of red fabric covering my head and face like a veil, as the men danced in circles around me. Individual men came to dance before me, and the girl whispering in my ear was instructing me to reject these potential suitors with the old thumbs down, which was greeted by the crowd with roars of laughter. After rejecting a few I was danced around the circle to check out my options, before one of the better looking guys was selected. My veil lifted, I then had to dance around for a while with my new ‘husband’ as the girls pulled up more of the audience to get people dancing around. I made my escape!
Thinking that my participation was now done I settled in my seat, content in the knowledge that it would be someone else’s turn next.
Unfortunately, the guys in midget costumes with the belly-faces had marked my spot and, of course, had to bounce over to me and dance around me forever. My biggest regret is the poor quality of photos taken of this particular incident. Surely the second time in the spotlight meant that I’d well and truly exceeded my obligations of involvement.
Such thoughts were clearly a waste of time.
I’d really been looking forward to the belly dancing; there had been a simple act earlier, and I’d been hoping for more. I wasn’t to be disappointed, as an incredible bellydancer appeared and danced for almost fifteen minutes. Dressed in black, she was provocative and undeniably talented. It was mesmerizing, and yet fun at the same time.
Then she finished…sending three performers into the audience to collect ‘volunteers’. And, despite slipping down into my seat in an effort to avoid notice, I’d clearly been picked as a target for this earlier as one of the guys came straight at me.
And so it came to be that I was once more on stage, this time with a metal-adorned scarf wrapped around my waist. On the upside, I wasn’t alone – standing beside me was one Turkish woman and one Japanese man. And we had to take it in turns to mimic the bellydancer’s movements. I like to think that I managed a better job than the others – I do have a competitive spirit sometimes. As it turns out this was a bad idea, as it meant that I had to do quite a bit more dancing than they did. It was hilarious watching the man try to shake his hips. I’m hoping I didn’t look quite so uncoordinated. Overall, it was good fun. I think Mum enjoyed watching me constantly being embarrassed up on stage.
The Korean couple who were sitting on the table beside ours were lovely. Mum chatted with the girl a bit while I was up on stage, and when I returned she wanted to have her photo taken with me, and then a photo with all of us. What was really awesome about that however was that she and her partner were carrying a crazy little photo printer – it prints two-inch-long Polaroid prints and can be connected to a camera via USB. Not knowing this, I was pleasantly surprised when she handed me a mini-Polaroid to shake! She printed one for Mum and I, and one for Wendy and Chris.
Suddenly the lights were up and everyone was leaving, so Chris and I headed outside for a cigarette while Mum and Wendy were talking and packing up inside. They didn’t emerge for another fifteen minutes, and it turned out that there was another act! I felt awful, really embarrassed. I wonder why everyone left before it finished, and why none of the staff mentioned that there was still another act! Apparently it was brilliant too, so I really missed out. Regardless, I had a good night – despite the terrible food and the horrible wine. ‘Turkish Night’ is not something you do for the food!