As some of you know, from my Facebook posts, last week, I was to help plan a Ladies Night Out for the wives of Halliburton. Well, this was going to be a disco, ladies only, no men, fun music and food. Since we ARE in Saudi, it was to be catered to the Muslim ladies, hence the NO MEN at a dance...sounding fun yet? I was fine with all of and just planned not to attend, originally. My first job was to create a flyer announcing the event. I did that, and it was sent back to me with the correction of "no children or photography". I don't know about you, but I would never think to bring my child to a disco party anyway. I guess that must be common in the Middle East. The photography thing crawled all over me, however. I started thinking, "if you have all of these requirements that must be met, to fit your beliefs, then why am I writing this flyer?". Anyway, days pass, and I start to plan the music, my second responsibility. Then, it hits me...what if "disco" doesn't TRULY mean disco. What if I make this playlist of all this disco era music, and they think I have lost my Christian, American, white girl mind! On that note, yes, we had an ipod with playlists, because there were NO MEN allowed. I was not about to get on the phone trying to track down a female DJ in Khobar, Saudi Arabia. Also, the money raised on tickets was for charity, so this put more money into those funds. Okay, back to my soapbox! I asked another lady about this translation of the word disco, and it was revealed that ladies were going to Bahrain to buy ball gowns. SAY WHAT?? I would never dream of wearing a ball gown to a dance that my husband wasn't attending with me, but I definitely wasn't going to look like an idiot (in bell bottoms, lame', and platforms). We came to realize that this word really just meant a dance. So, on I went with planning my music. I had tons to choose from, already in our itunes library, so I got right to it. Then, the drama started! The Pakistani ladies wanted their music, the Egyptians wanted their music, and the younger generation wanted the Arab techno. I had already put the Arab techno, so that was fine. The other ladies brought me USB sticks with their songs, and I started to add those too. It was a process, as none of them were converted to a format that would work with our Mac. I was about to throw those darn memory sticks and just say the stray cats ate them! By the night of the party, I had all of the music ready to go and was feeling good about the variety. The compound where we had the party was to have the sound system waiting for us, so that should work fine. In my mind, I was thinking that most of these ladies haven't been to a real party anyway, so this should be a BIG night for them.
My friend, Traci and I arrived to decorate the room at 5 for the dance that started at 7. All went off without a hitch. The food was ready and looked delicious, and the sound system worked.
Around 7, ladies started arriving, some fully covered, some with just their hair covered. By the end of the night, I saw more skin than I wanted to see from some of them. I must say, my neighbor warned me that these dances are an excuse for many of these women to just get wild and reveal everything. I have heard stories of them getting down to nothing but their "intimates". I would have had to leave at that point. It was entertaining, to say the least. They were shaking body parts that I was certain had immobile joints....guess not! I am telling you, if there had been a pole in that room, they would have worked it...ALL.NIGHT.LONG!
If you had been a fly on the wall, you would have thought they were truly enjoying themselves. Some of them were dripping with sweat, shoes and stockings had come off and hair was flying.
The next day, the group of us American women, attended another gathering together and had many laughs about the fun that a group of women can have together if you just let them come out of their abayas and head covers. I was glad they enjoyed themselves. Then, at 11, they were completely covered again, like nothing had ever happened.
Side note...I bought a long dress to wear and went into the restroom. I looked down to see the floor covered in water. I was fuming mad, thinking "really, you HAD to use the bidet!" Ugh...my dress was going to drag in water! I was so glad I saw it.
Now, onto yesterday, where our Committee group met to discuss our February event and review the Ladies Night Out. The reviews were great, then a lady arrives late and sits at the table. The first words out of her mouth were that her friends didn't like that there was no DJ, they didn't like that the food was sitting out and not served, the room wasn't how she would want it...blah, blah, blah. I let her finish and then politely told her that she should be in charge of the next one. I went on to say that to have all of the things she mentioned, MEN MUST SEE THEM! Women don't work in the restaurants here, so who is going to serve her? Is she going to find me a female DJ to hire? I also said that this was a party to please a specific population group, Muslim women, and since Traci and are not a part of that group, we were at a clear disadvantage of knowing how to meet their requirements. I assured her that the next event will be VERY nice with a sit down dinner, a DJ, and my husband will be on my arm (so she should prepare to be covered). I was very nice, but inside I wanted to reach across the table and put my finger in her face. That urge only lasted for a minute, then I prayed to be more tolerant of her. To sum it up, I will not be doing another event that excludes the desires of the American women. This was a learning experience, for sure!
I know that sounded like a rant, so I apologize for that.