1920s Cairo: singers were pressing hit records, dramatic troupes were springing up and cabarets were packed – a counterculture was on the rise. In bars, hash-dens and music halls, people of all backgrounds came together as a passionate group of artists captivated 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 Oum Kalthoum 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. Midnight in Cairo tells the thrilling story of Egypt’s interwar nightlife and entertainment industry through the lives of its pioneering women.
Introducing an eccentric cast of characters, it brings to life 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 heard it before.