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What is The Fez Documentary?

Roxane_BioMy name is Roxxanne Shelaby and I am making a documentary about the Fez, the first Arabic Restaurant and Nightclub on the West Coast.

 

The Fez however was not just any nightclub. It was the place that became the hub of the Arab community in southern California and helped bring the Arabic culture to mainstream American society. Its legacy is that of a place that cultivated a generation of Belly Dancers and musicians that went on to shape the art form in the US as well as teaching and inspiring generations of artists all over the world.

 

The Fez was a magical place that provided a place for artists to hone their craft. This environment was provided by its owner and creator Lou Shelaby, a Lebanese-American who settled in Los Angeles after leaving Boston in 1949. He arrived in Los Angeles inspired to live up to the city’s liberal and innovative nature.

 

Ten years later he opened the Fez with his brother Fred and mother Mantura. They had a dream of sharing their culture, music, food and hospitality with all those who were interested. They created a place that was as authentic as they come, with the highest standards in food, service, and entertainment, which not only attracted the locals, and expatriates but Hollywood celebrities as well! Marlon Brando, and Jane Mansfield to name a few and both Richard Thomas (John Boy) and Danny Thomas were regulars!

Photo of the Fez

This documentary intends to explore what made the Fez such a magical place that even today, almost 55 years later, when the Fez is mentioned, people get this far-off, distant look and they are transported back in time. Why did this place produce incredible dancers such as Aisha Ali, Marta Shill Kouzouyan, Zanouba, Maya Medwar, Antoinette Awayshak Koury Smit, and Feiruz Aram! Why did it bring to the forefront musicians that shaped the Arab landscape of California such as Saadoun Al-Bayati, Najeeb Khoury and Souheil Caspar.

 

This documentary will bring you the story of the Fez, the family behind it, and the amazing performers that shone in its spotlight. The Fez Documentary will help to preserve this rich Arab-American and artistic history that is also so much a part of our own history.

Comments

12 Comments

Kathy Claypool

Just wonderful

Karen

Can’t wait!

Shadiyah

Thrilled for you that this project is so close to fruition! I can’t wait! Blessings, Shadiyah

Lydia

VERY exciting!

yumi

i love this! <3 such a treasure! 🙂

robin dudleyhowes

A true labor of love and sharing Roxanne. I’m really looking forward to this piece of belly dance history and nostalgia.

Najia

We all need this .Thank you Roxanne!

Roxxanne

Thank you!

Reevah Lesoff Simon

I came to Los Angeles from Boston in 1961. I was around 21. I started working at TRW in Westchester and met a girl who introduced me to The Fez. She did some dancing and showed me how to dance We went to The Fez regularly. I loved the music and the dance. We went to an area upstairs from the main restaurant. It was always crowded with Arab students studying in L.A. There were musicians and my girl friend and I danced and chatted with the students.
It was a wonderful experience.

Roxxanne

Hello Reevah!!
So nice to hear from you and about your wonderful experiences at The Fez! Sorry for the very late reply:)

Teri Ortt

My dad has been talking about The Fez for years. As a child I remember asking him to describe the details of the decor and the people who were there. Just tonight it came up in conversation and I googled it. Lo and behold I found this site! Can’t wait to see the documentary.

Roxxanne

How wonderful Teri!! So sorry for the late reply but somehow I just only saw this now…..
If you have not already seen the documentary you can order on here. Would love to know what you think of it:)
xoxoxoxo,
Roxxanne


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