It is the end of May!  My how time races by in the Bay Area.  We are almost halfway through the year 2013 and so many wonderful things have come and gone, but have no fear there is plenty more coming up in the next few months!

One of the things I love about living here is the diversity of really talented people doing really amazing things.  There are many treasures of the Bay Area and the Ooh La La Bellydance troupe is definitely one of them.  One of my first and favorite memories when I arrived here in the East Bay was seeing this group perform.  It was a magical experience because their performances  are simply stunning.  I was super excited to be able to sit down this week with Shabnam (founder) and Heaven (executive director) to talk a little bit about Ooh La La and the Shabnam Dance Company.

Miz Chris [MC]:  Where are each of you from?

shabnamShabnam Shirvani [SS]:  I am from the SF Bay Area . I’ve spent half my life in San Francisco and half my life in Oakland. As a child I briefly lived in Iran with family. I currently reside and teach Bellydance in Oakland.

Heaven Mousalem [HM]:  I grew up on the East Coast and I’ve lived in Oakland for ten years. My family is from Lebanon, so that is why I got into bellydance.

[MC]:  What was the catalyst that created the Ooh La La belly dance troupe?

[SS]:  I created the Shabnam Dance Company to expand my artistic vision of Bellydance and Near Eastern dance and elevate it for presentation on a theatrical stage. This dance form is commonly thought of as the sister of strip tease or an over sexualized seduction type dance. Bellydance IS very feminine and sensuous but I always saw it as an Ethnic Dance form.  With my company I  have been able to progress Bellydance and take it out of the hookah bar and restaurant  by incorporating unique staging and  artistic concepts to create a broader vision of the dance. All my company members are students whom I’ve trained, some with no prior dance experience. I teach them technique, the intricacies of Near Eastern movement, musicality and for our newest dance Arba’ah that will premiere on June 15 at the SF Ethnic Dance Festival,  I taught them how to play the drum and dance at the same time which was very challenging and extremely rewarding once we all got it!

heaven[HM]:  I joined Ooh La La Bellydance in 2008 as an apprentice. I was so impressed that Shabnam had single-handedly built such a successful and innovative company from the ground up. I found her so inspiring that here I am, 5 years later, in the role of Executive Director, supporting her vision and helping the company to grow.

[MC]:  What do you find the most satisfying about performing in Ooh La La?

[SS]:   The most satisfying aspects of directing the company and performing with the troupe is the camaraderie, sisterhood and the feeling of doing something new, exciting and groundbreaking as an all-female ensemble. We are all women of various ages, ethnicities and backgrounds all with the common goal of presenting Bellydance in a new and dynamic way.

[HM]:  The most satisfying thing to me is being a part of a team of women and being onstage together, cheering each other on. We get to connect through this dance, even though we all come from very diverse backgrounds. The best feeling in the world is being excited together after a show and enjoying the sense of accomplishment and knowing that we gave the audience a memorable experience.

[MC]:  What would you like to share with my audience about bellydance?

shabbackbendtray[SS]:  The term Bellydance refers to a number of dance styles from the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia. The countries of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt all have their own dance traditions and choreography. The dance developed through the influence of many different areas and continues it’s long process of development today. I personally believe this dance form has healing and uplifting properties for women – in essence it is like yoga for women. This dance is designed for a women’s body and the undulating movements of the hips and torso not only strengthen our muscles but I feel, also enhances our third chakra which enhances confidence, self worth and self esteem. I have had women come into my studio as caterpillars and metamorphosize into dazzling butterflies!

[HM]:  I want your audience to know that this is a serious art form. Shabnam’s mission is to elevate the dance, so that it receives the respect it deserves. Also, although this is a very feminine style of movement, people of all genders and gender expressions can enjoy bellydance. There is one dominant prototype of what a bellydancer should look like, and this does not encompass everyone who enjoys this beautiful dance.

[MC]:  Share one important fact about belly dance that most people would not know.heaven2

[SS]:  What most people don’t realize about Bellydance is that it is a very difficult, complex  dance form to learn. Technically speaking, just learning to isolate different parts of our torso is challenging, but there are also so many facets of musicality we have to master and understand. In my school, all dancers must learn to play finger cymbals and know the various rhythms of Middle Eastern music from Turkish to Moroccan and Egyptian. To play a musical instrument and dance in unison on beat takes countless years of practice to master. Then there is the modem ‘new style’ of Near Eastern dance which I am dedicated to, which requires dancers to train in Ballet, acrobatics, countless props and balancing. I have been performing professionally for over 10 years, and I have not even scratched the surface of this dance.

[HM]:  Bellydance is very much a misnomer- we use every part of our bodies when we dance! The cabaret form of the dance evolved from a folk dance referred to as Raqs Baladi, meaning dance of the people in Arabic.

[MC]:  What are Ooh La La’s upcoming shows?

Shabnamdanceco hi res red

[SS]:   Shabnam Dance Companies next show is June 15th and 16th at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts as part of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival. We are premiering a new piece entitled ‘Arba’ah’ (four) which is a dance that celebrates the energy and beauty of the four elements Earth, Wind, Fire, Water and the future of Bellydance. Tickets can be purchased at or

[HM]:  The theatrical side of Ooh La La, known as Shabnam Dance Company, will be performing at the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival on June 15 &16. We will be debuting our world premiere piece, Arba’ah, meaning four, as a tribute to the four elements. Ooh La La Bellydance will be dancing this Wednesday at the White Horse in Oakland at the show Follies and Dollies. Also, I am holding a queer and trans bellydance workshop every Tuesday night during the month of June at Shabnam Studio on Grand Avenue. Look up “Queer Shimmy” on Facebook or go to the workshop tab on, which is where you can also find out more information about us. Shimmy on!




579 18th Street, Oakland
8 p.m. – 2 a.m.

Cuban Hip-Hop Jazz Sensation Bay Area Debut


Also performing: DJ Leydis, Do D.A.T., Paul Flores, Aisha Fukushima, DJ Juan


Live Music by:

~Geneva Harrison
~Sandy Perez
~Raul Perales

Cuban rapper/Jazz singer Danay Suárez will be performing for the first time in the US West Coast. Internationally known and hailed as one of the most talented new female artist to come out of Latin America, Danay Suárez will have her Bay Area debut in Oakland’s New Parish on May 29th.

Danay Suárez is more rapper than r&b singer, even if she has a lot less in common with Lil’ Kim than she does with, say, Erykah Badu or Jill Scott. She can rap convincingly about the plight of sisters and the shortcomings of brothers without striking a gangsta pose, and her singing is invariably lovely.

In 2009 renowned world-music DJ Gilles Peterson (BBC/Worldwide) recorded the seminal Havana Cultura double-disc compilation in Cuba’s capital, a collection of jazz sessions with young local talent. The 24 year-old Danay Suárez had her international debut with some of the most memorable moments on that album, which in turn resulted on the release of her own Peterson-produced EP soon after.

Danay’s first solo full-length album, Polvo De La Humedad, was independently released in 2011 and was hailed by the specialized media as one of the best Latin albums of that year.

6551 Telegraph, Oakland
9 p.m. – 12 a.m.
Doors open at 8 p.m.

Follies and Dollies is happy to announce that we will be adding another Wednesday show. If you have been missing our show on the second Wednesday of every month, you have the opportunity to join us on the fifth Wednesday of any month, with five Wednesdays.

This show we will have guest performances by:

Ooh LaLa Belly Dance
IL Nocturnal
Aequorea Victoria
Tony Technique and many more!

We look forward to seeing you in our audience.




6:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.

The 7th Annual Oakland Indie Awards on May 30th at the Kaiser roof top garden (300 Lakeside Drive), features a full evening packed with activities celebrating Oakland’s local businesses, artists and artisans.

Come shop, eat, play and celebrate all that keeps Oakland fresh, forward & enterprising.

$10 in advance; $15 at door (includes all food and entertainment)

Entertainment featuring:
DJ Platurn (45 Sessions/Oakland Faders)
Earth Amplified
The Grow Sessions
music, fresh juice & health: SOS Juice
Funkquarians & the Carnaval Explosion w/ King Theo
youth circus performers: Prescott Circus Theatre
art gallery: Joyce Gordon Gallery
painted portraiture: Extraordinarie1
roving fashion show: An Eye for Style Fahion Academy
science demos: Chabot Space & Science Center
face painting: Alana Dill
sculpture garden: American Steel Studios
dancers: Mix’d Ingrdnts
video booth: Oakland Digital (ODALC)

Food provided by:
Arizmendi Bakery
Chop Bar
Doc’s of the Bay
El Porteño Empanadas
Jackson Blake Kitchens
Juhu Beach Club
Nieves Cinco de Mayo
Souley Vegan
Sweet Bar Bakery
Tina Tamale
For more info go to!


2170 Market St, SF

Join us Thursday, May 30th for a memorable round of Bacon, Babes & BINGO! Stay for one game or stick around for 4 hours of quality, action packed entertainment!

Our Bacon Babes will spoil you with FREE Bingo cards, popcorn snacks ’til they run out & miles of smiles! WIN one of our BINGO games or contests and wiggle on up to the stage to claim your prize!

Gather your friends, family & coworkers and soak up this one of its kind *LIVE* Game Show that incorporates:

*Comedy* with Wiggy Darlington

*Burlesque* with Mistress Marla Spanks, Sugar Magnolia, Holli Would

*LIVE music* 29th Street Swingtet (hard swinging, 1930’s & ’40’s Jazz)

BACON humor (and BACON Prizes!) with Bacon Babes Kami Kampo, AJ Molecular and more!

sASSy Hotbuns callin’ BINGO & LOTS OF PRIZES from our fabulous Squeal Wheel partners!
Including a RAFFLE for a mystery prize worth over $200




820 26th Street, SF
7:15 p.m.
Show 8 p.m.

“Ella Effect” is the story behind Ella Fitzgerald’s genius. After a sold out premiere at Shotwell Studio last fall, “Ella Effect” returns to Vima Ballroom May 31 and June 1, 2013.

“This ain’t your mama’s tribute to Ella show; this is an incisive look at the ways she created herself and her style through beautiful renditions of the songs that Ella made her own. Josh and Freeplay (Dance Crew) take these lessons and amaze you with how truly timeless this work can be. Matching movement and music, dance and daring, you have a spectacular evening in store.” – Pam Peniston, Executive Director, National Queer Arts Festival

Description: A one-hour show featuring extraordinary jazz singers and musicians, energetic swing and hip hop dancers, and honest, riveting narrative. “The Ella Effect” is the story not just of how Ella became a genius, but how her method of personal evolution can apply to anyone, anywhere.

In 12 time honored classic Ella standards, Josh Klipp and his talented cast not only entertain, but illustrate and bring to life Ella’s simple and brilliant approach to creating genius…and perhaps even profound change.Featuring: Josh Klipp and the Klipptones, jazz vocalist Emily Day, dancers Janey Madamba, Rachel Baker, Freeplay Dance Crew and more!


Two Shoes Shouting:  An Evening with Valerie Troutt & Maya Kronfeld
1 Broadway, Oakland
9:30 p.m. – 12 a.m.


Valerie Troutt, a remarkable singer-songwriter, fuses, gospel, soul, world, folk and electronica in her unique approach to jazz and original compositions. Her ability as a jazz vocalist and soul composer has inspired the hearts of many listeners.

Valerie’s accomplishments include performing for the Jazz at Lincoln Center 1999-2000 Season Kick-off Party, successfully accompanying the Marcus Strickland Quartet. This annual event sponsored by Black Enterprise, offered tremendous exposure of Valerie’s talents to key people in the jazz community. Rodney Whitaker calls her, “innovative and fresh with the ability to set a room in motion.”

Valerie Troutt is one of few young modern singers creating stylistic change in the Vocal Jazz Tradition. Dianne Reeves comments on her first musical encounter of Valerie stating, “Valerie is energetic, spontaneous and ready.” Valerie Troutt is certainly a fearless force to watch for in the years to come.

Maya Kronfeld is a rhythm-driven piano player and keyboardist. Born in Berkeley, CA to Israeli parents, she has been heard in venues ranging from Lincoln Center (NY) to the Viper Room (LA). The Maya Kronfeld Trio, an original jazz project, was recently featured on KCSM. In addition to her work as a leader, Maya can be heard playing Jazz and R&B with some of the Bay Area’s finest artists, including Zoe & Dave Ellis, Valerie Troutt and Destani Wolf. She graduated from UC Berkeley in 2008 with a double major in Philosophy and Comparative Literature.




The Cafe
2369 Market St, SF
4 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
$6 before 6 p.m., $8 after


A new t-dance for the Ladeez of the Bay every 1st Saturday of the month at The Café.

Hot Go Go’s Sexi Burlesque,steaming dance floor, tasty libations and exotic drink specials! Lady Dj’s Ryan and Fern-C on board with some slap happy dance beats.


Live performance by SF’s lesbian rapper JEN-RO!

1727 Telegraph, Oakland
9 p.m.


1st & 4th Sundays Starting in JUNE
June 2nd
June 23rd
July 7th
July 28th

Summer is here, Sun is out, STEREO is bumping top down…you know the drill..

We welcome you to join us each First and Fourth Sunday as we provide you with that Global Stereo Sound

Your Residents
Navigate the Sound

The Somar Bar Crew keep the libations coming and the patrons comfortable.



2277 International Blvd, Oakland
9:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.

We need all you bedroom ballers, shower singers, downtime divas and freetime-freestylers to come out in your dressy casual best and join us for ♥ House of Love ♥, a night of raw talent over improvised music!

There will be a tight-ass band @ your command, dispensing the beats that make your creation complete.We hit you up for this because we know you are sitting on something powerful, so come and share your vision with us!!!

Plus $3 (yes only $3!) wine bar with Sangria and Moscato! $5 cover.

Hosted by and featuring MUZIKDREAMZ and MissJadaSimone.

As we said above, casual dress only PLEASE- NO Hoodies, Tshirts, Or Baseball Caps.((( Why?))) Because we want you to have a good time and be comfortable, and mess is less likely to pop off when you got your fresh gear on.

Connect with Miz Chris


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