I was at a friend's party in midtown this weekend when someone suggested going to Habibi. Habibi is an Arabic word which, translated into English, means "my beloved" and/or "I love you", depending on how it's used. However, when used to describe a certain Saturday night at the China Club where the crowd is 99.9% male, it means "I love you hot Arabic gay man."
The Habibi party is a monthly gathering of gays from the pan-Arabic world and the men who love them. It moves location each time and, though the China Club was convenient to the party I was attending, the space was odd and felt like an queasy mix of Elks Lodge and Colorado apres ski circa 1979. But more importantly, it was filled with a hot and friendly crowd so we stayed. For a while...
The music was a mix of Arabic pop, Bollywood disco numbers, and a few tracks that sounded like a Muslim call to prayer with a slammin' bass beat behind it. There was even a belly-dancer intermission around 1:30am during which a real woman did some serious shaking and waving of veils along with her assets. It kinda reminded me of those gay flag dancers and made me wonder if there was some evolutionary link between the two.
In general, the crowd was very mixed, though a Turk in our party said that the majority of the folks there were Iranian from what he could tell. This made me fell better about the pricey $20 cover; we weren't just hanging out in a gay disco on a Saturday night, we were doing our part for world peace. You know, getting a dialgoue started, dancing without preconditions, etc. Actually, the best part about the party, was all the dancing. There was even some dirty dancing. In particular, there was this one dark, handsome man who really did look like "a young prince out of the Arabian Nights" who started bumping up against me at one point. He was very energetic and had the body to prove it. Anyway, when the song and our dance ended he said to me (and this is a direct quote) "now you can say you've dance with a Persian." Nice.
So yeah....I've now officially checked that one off the Bucket List and can now move onto belly dancing. See you next month, Habibis!