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Why Am I Making This Documentary?

I am a dancer and huge fan of Arabic arts and culture. Growing up in this environment, I took things for granted and didn’t understand the importance of what The Fez was. My dad sold The Fez when I was one and all I know of it through stories. I grew up at the Cascades, my dad’s second club and to me, growing up in an Arabic nightclub was a normal thing. I knew my dad was sort of important and people knew and loved him. And everywhere we went, whether it was at the Cascades or at an Arabic function, people always knew him and they always talked about The Fez.


The Fez Magazine Add - 2

As I was growing up and developing as a dancer, I would hear of these dancers and then find out they were dancers at The Fez. And throughout the years I started making the connection of the importance of these dancers and The Fez. Then I started asking more questions…..


Why is it that every dance or Middle Eastern event I went to everyone knew and loved Lou and always talked about the Fez? They would also mention the Cascades which was his second club, but they never talked about it the same way. Why is it that these amazing dancers and musicians had always called The Fez their “home” and the place where they developed their art and became the artists that they were?


I wondered about these things but didn’t really understand the importance and what would lead me on this journey until my father passed away. Then I started to realize that I had all these unanswered questions, not that I would have necessarily gotten the answers from my dad because he was never one to toot his own horn.


So I bounced these ideas of off Sahra, my best friend since I was 9. Being the artist and dance ethnologist that she is and the one who knows and understands me AND my family, she has always encouraged me to take on this project.


For me at that time, this documentary would have been in the form of a book because that’s what I know how to do-write. I figured I would include the pictures I had gotten from Feiruz (you’ll find out about that in the next blog). So one night I was sitting in Sahra’s living room and we were talking about this project and I told her that someone had told me that it should be a film because it’s about dance. Dance is alive, its movement and its fluid, it should be seen not read about so it would make more sense for it to be a film instead of a book. We talked about this and then I dropped my head in my hands and began to sob uncontrollably (which I rarely do, she is the crier!)


She looked at me and said, “Well if its going to make YOU cry like that then it must be the right thing.”


The idea of making a documentary film scared me for many reasons. One, I’m not a film maker and I had no idea how to do it. But mainly I couldn’t figure out how to make a film out of a bunch of stories and photos. Remember The Fez was owned by my dad in the 1950’s and 60’s so I don’t have any video footage of the Fez or the dancers there. How do you make a movie out of that??? And oh, lets not forget the time factor-or lack of time as is the case….I have a more than full time job so when am I supposed to make this happen?


Well, inspite of all those challenges I have decided to take on the challenge of telling my story. Not sure how long it will take or what it will look like when I’m done but I’ve decided to dive in!




What does “fez” mean?



A Fez is that little red hat with a tassle that men wear in the Middle East.

Marguerite Kusuhara

I am sure you will be successful. Who knows more about Arabic dance and Arabic American history than an Arabic American dancer?


Thank you Habibi:)

Marguerite Kusuhara

I am sure you will be greatly successful. Who knows more about Arab American history and dance here than an Arabic American dancer?

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