Michael Divine

I played with friends.

I watched as the movement of suits and security closed in with closer scrutiny.

Turns out the event would be ending a bit early though we were certainly pushing it as far as we could go (the security feeling threatened by the non-denominational spirituality of these westerners). David Starfire came on and the middle eastern music continued. The event had been permitted as a wedding. Did someone get married, security wondered. Crazy Westerners!

I went to the bar to get some water. There was a wall of men watching me. I could feel their eyes on my every move. The bartender was laughing with someone. I was thirsty. I took a glass, reached back, took the water, poured, closed and returned bottled, took glass just as bartender looked up, surprised that I’d just helped myself and I walked away and I could still feel all these eyes on me. There is something to that, I think. For one, I opted for water, not liquor. But more importantly: I helped myself. I do not need permission nor do I need to be served. I can take care of myself, thank you very much. There is a sense of entitlement to that, perhaps. But there is also self-governance. The ‘I can take care of myself just fine’ belief is what threatens those who would tell us they can take care of us better, that they know better for us.

I went back to Violet and Anastajah who were laughing and smiling and playing. O those sex-crazed western women (according to Muslims). Dancing and playing and laughing and being treated as equals. Equals! As they should be. There is such freedom there, such privilege. Here we are, having shisha pipes brought. Tea? Need tea? It will be brought. A drink? Something else? Just rest your head here, do as you wish – dance and play. It is a great privilege here in to be in this space but we ourselves are also privileged to be here. We may not go home to what we feel is great wealth but it is. When I sit at home and there is heat and food in the refrigerator and the lights are soft and my streets are safe and I have no fear of being harmed and I can paint and go to the beach and laugh and dance and think as I want to… that is a great privilege in this world. And I have so much gratitude for it. I’ve seen the faces: the look of the girl in Luxor with her soccer ball and her deep ancient eyes, the women who cannot speak, covered head to toe with only a slit for the eyes, the men who long for a God who is not in this world, hungry children who are joyful for just half a pound… And here we are, throwing money away for the sake of a party but to be honest, there isn’t a lot that the money would do if you just gave it away. This is a sad truth as well. So the best we can do – the very best – is to love and be respectful.

And I can say that we were just that. Loving, respectful, and grateful.

Gaudi came on, playing his dub-heavy bass-heavy psychedelic dance funk. It was going to be a short set though. I wanted to hear him, tired as I was although it was only one am. Other friends had left on earlier shuttles but there was no way Violet and I were leaving til it was all over. We were at the pyramids – there they were! – and it was a killer party. It’d be over when it was over and then we’d leave.

‘Look,’ said Gaudi, ‘I don’t need to say much, you all know already, so there are the Pyramids and just dance.’ Because Rab had unintentionally incited such tension already. The crazy thing is – it’s not like we went into a mosque and had a party and spoke about our own spirituality. We are at the pyramids. There is no religion there anymore. The pyramids aren’t Islamic. They aren’t Jewish or Christian. They are of a rather deceased ancient polytheism. People! C’mon!

With a howl and a bang Gaudi ended. ‘Thank you.’ And with a final beat he dropped the mic and left. But it kept echoing. He returned bashfully to shut it off. It was like a final poke in the side of the security forces who were itching to get us out of there. The money was good but we seemed to be a threat though they sure couldn’t put their finger on it.

Josh (I think) of the DoLab got up on stage ‘So thank you all so much. Please don’t lag. There are buses waiting for everyone to gather their things. You won’t have a chance to come back here if you left anything. Please don’t lag.’

So we didn’t. Within a few minutes we had our things, our coats and bags, and were on the bus, sitting waiting quietly. The greatest applause, they say, is when there isn’t any. And to leave a party and get on a bus and everyone, though wide eyed and awake, is quiet… there was simply a sense of awe that had overcome us by now. The openness. The love. The tension. The ancients. The moderns. The now.

The buses pulled away and we slowly wound down off the Giza Plateau away from the pyramids and possibly the best party I’ve ever been to.

“We must be some kind of important,” I chuckled quietly to Violet, referring to the police motorcade, the lack of streetlights to stop at, the quick shuttle back to the hotel.

Once inside the walls of the hotel the flood gates broke and there was laughter and talking and carousing.

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