Presented by Hadi Zeidan
Reviewed Thursday 31 October 2019
Bars can be many things, but at their best they’re places to meet old friends and discover new ones, to exchange ideas and let your hair down. The teahouses of the Arabic world fulfil some of these functions but the closest equivalent is a belly dancing performance. Lebanon, historically the most westernised Arab country, is party to both traditions. And thanks to Shik Shak Shok, Adelaide was able to experience that fusion for one night.
Billed as a “vinyl cabaret”, the evening was helmed by creator Hadi Zeidan, who showcased the creativity of Beirut during the civil war with his collection of Lebanese records. He delivered on his promise to take the audience on a journey with a surprisingly wide range of genres, transitioning from the expected belly dance soundtrack to cool jazz, rumbling disco funk and extended psychedelic soul suites filled with ecstatic vocals and dramatic strings. His cratedigger’s dream of a collection was filled with breaks that demanded attention and music that was familiar enough to dance to but exotic enough to be as intoxicating as the arak cocktail available the bar.
Projections of belly dancers drawn from classic movies made the point that this is music to move to. Unfortunately the cabaret seating meant that there was little space for a dancefloor to form, while the music was slightly too loud for conversation. It’s a shame that the performance was caught between these two possibilities, because the wildly evocative soundtrack deserved more. If Zeidan can be persuaded to return, one can only hope that he’s given a venue with a dancefloor that lets Shik Shak Shok reflect the hedonism inherent in the music of the era that it celebrates.
Reviewed by Alexis Buxton-Collins
Rating out of 5: 3
One Night Only – Season ended