Michele and I have just returned from a bizarre but entertaining evening.

Earlier today I got a call from an old friend: Tina. She’s back in London after living in France for the past few years and we agreed to meet up in Eltham, our home town, partly to catch up and partly so I could go round and help sort out her Dad’s PC…it was great to see her again and gave me the perfect opportunity to go to the Eltham grill 🙂

By all rights her dad and I shouldn’t get on, but we seem to – and he rewarded my work on his PC by sharing some of his 12 year old scotch with me and Tina, together with a bowl of bombay mix. We’d arranged to meet up with Michele in Lewisham for a meal at Hunkarim.

Now, Michele and I have been to that place many times, but never on a saturday. Initially it seemed like a busy version of the weekday experience except that the music, Dread Zone, was playing louder than usual. As we chatted, drank and ordered our food the music got louder and louder and the place started to get more and more busy. Tina pointed out that that the patrons were almost exclusively women but we just assumed it was a bunch of hen nights.

Then the turn came on: a keyboard player and singer. They cranked up the amp and played ear-drum-burstingly loud middle-eastern style music on a synth, while the singer sang a medley of dire pop tunes. Every now and then they gave our eardrums a break and played some CDs with no concessions toward subtle mixing. The CDs started off with some friendly ragga pop; Chaka Demus and Pliers etc, and moved up to some full-on dancehall crutch-rubbing ragga. The hen parties were in a frothy frenzy by this stage and we just sat there open mouthed. A 16 year old blonde girl at the next table was doing her best to “wine her body”, and when she noticed Michele grooving, obviously felt she had met a kindred spirit and invited her up to dance, which she did.

The evening went on and the place was rocking. By now we realised that despite the high quality of the food, Hunkarim on a Saturday was not a place for a quiet meal out. And then the belly dancer appeared. Instead of the flabster we were expecting, it was a young slinky woman who moved in a way I wouldn’t have thought was possible. All of the women in the place stopped screaming and everyone was transfixed. As she danced she invited other women to come up and dance with her – the first that accepted was Michele, who really knows how to move her hips.

To cut a long story short, it was a bizarre but spectacularly enjoyable evening and not at all like we’d planned. As we left, just about everyone in the place was up and dancing. It took us a while to sus that a large proportion of the all-female groups there were lesbians…I’d always wondered what sort of people were attracted to a place with a belly dancer.

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