Tuesday November 1st, 2012 / DAY 13
What an interesting day. Started slow with Walid and I taking a walk so Icould take pictures. Did not get far as a lady approached us and wanted to know who we were and why we were taking pictures. Turned out of course that Walid knew her and we ended up visiting and having lunch with her and several other old friends and families. We paid a short visit back to Yvonne to return a tray and cups that had been sent earlier to us by Sophia. These people are all heart. That was for us to have coffee out back of our house with Michel. Talal Itani caught up with us at Marie’s house (the lady that wanted to know
After we changed we went to Talal’s house to meet his lovely wife, Hoda. She is such a sweetie. They have a lovely home. At 5:30 we piled into his car and drove to a building in the Hamra area. At first I thought it was a mistake. Looked like an empty building. No, at 6pm all the lights came on and yes it was an apartment building. There was a short Zeffet at the home of the bride. This consisted of tar, katam, derbecki, tubl beledi, and mizmar. All entertainers were in red. That took about 10 min. The groom arrived and they were escorted to their car.
We then met at the Opera Suites. A huge place that caters to wdddings in Beirut. It must have 10 ballrooms on 4 different floors. We were in the lower level. There was another wedding going on in another ballroom so we had the pleasure of seeing the beginning of their zeffet also. They brought the bride and goom down this fantastic staircase. All the entertainers were in white. Quite a large group of performers maybe 12 people.
Then, it was Talal’s group turn. According to Rula one of Talal’s girls. She has been with him 17 years. Talal was the first person to have a zeffet group in Lebanon, Beirut. Now Margo Kelfayan who worked with Talal as her drummer for 25 years also has her own zeffet company. Believe she started it with Francois Ramy. It was such a wonderful experience to see these performers.
Six guys had long trumpets. For this first part they were all in blue.They formed an arch towards the beginning of the hall. Very Romanisque in style. Now, the big zeffet started. A tall man entered with bakour (incense). He was fantastic. He purified and blessed the air and the room until he reached the center of the stage. Then performed a whirling dervish. Talal told me later because I asked why he did not have a traditional dervish skirt on that for the skirt alone is another $250-. After this 4 boys and a girl entered. The boys had a huge white square silk veil
that Rula danced under. I got all of this on video as we were given a front spot to see. It was so exciting. Then the big moment arrived. More people with derbckis and tabl beledis entered with another girl. The did a debke and then escorted thebride and groom into the room. This all took about 20 minutes. Ran out of space on my camera and finished up with my phone. It was all so exciting. They did the chair thing which I love and am used to. This ended up with everyone dancing debke around the bride and groom while lifted in the air on the chairs.
After all was over we went back to Talal’s house for dinner and conversation. Love the family atmosphere. Got back to our house in Bkeshtay around 1:30am or so. What a marvelous treat we had. I will never be able to thank Talal enough. It was something that will stay with me forever. I decided I have to interview Talal about his career and all it involves. I would also like to interview Rula. Maybe next time we are here. This zeffet I needed to see. I received such inspiration and ideas. This alone was worth the trip. Wonderful! We need to plan new zeffet and promote it the right way. This needs to be written about. Dancers in San Diego have no idea how to present a zeffet.. They think if they dance at a wedding that is a zeffet. It is all about the music first and the dance second. In Lebanon it is about rhythm, drumming and debke with a touch of fantasy. It was a perfect day. I will remember this day all my life. So many wonderful memories.