Midnight in Cairo: The Female Stars of Egypt's Roaring 20s

Midnight in Cairo: The Female Stars of Egypt's Roaring 20s

AUC Press

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Raphael Cormack

1920s Cairo saw singers pressing hit records, new theaters and dramatic troupes springing up, and cabarets packed—a counter-culture was on the rise. In bars, hash-dens and music halls, people of all classes and backgrounds came together as a passionate group of eccentrics, narcissists, and idealists strove to entertain Egyptian society.

Of these performers, Cairo’s biggest stars were female, and they asserted themselves on the stage like never before. Two of the most famous troupes were run by women; Badia Masabni’s dancehall became the hottest nightspot in town; pioneer of Egyptian cinema Aziza Amir made her stage debut; and legendary singer Umm Kulthum first rose to fame. It is these women, who knew both the opportunities and prejudices that this world offered, who best reveal this cosmopolitan and raucous city’s secrets.

Introducing a thrilling cast of characters, Midnight in Cairo reveals a world of revolutionary ideas and provocative art—one which laid the foundations of Arab popular culture today. It is a story of modern Cairo as we have never known it before.

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