Women-Only Rolling Disco in Iran
Written by Journeywoman:
of the most memorable impressions of my six weeks’ stay
in Iran was my visit to the village of Abyaneh. Abyaneh is
serenely situated up a hillside at the foot of 3899m high
Mount Karkas. This village is recognized by Unesco for its
antiquity and uniqueness. There are few motorized vehicles
on its twisting climbing lanes of mud and stone. The ochre-coloured
houses with lattice windows and wooden balconies are more
than fascinating. The daily traditional dress of the local
women is very different from the black tent-like chadors I
encountered everywhere else in Iran.
for a low budget, single female backpacker such as me, this
idyllic place was not easy to reach. Eighty-two kilometers
to the north is the tourist town of Kashan. It was here that
I was approached by a tourist guide offering me a shared taxi
ride to Abyaneh. I took the offer but let the taxi return
to Kashan without me as I wanted to stay longer in Abyaneh.
The driver was worried and he emphasized that there would
be no other transport leaving the village. At 3 pm I made
a last stroll through the deserted lanes. At 4 pm I decided
reluctantly that I really had to go. But how? I had been observing
the access road earlier and cars were few and far between.
Maybe my guide had been right.
the parking lot I spotted a noisy bunch of black chador clad
students standing beside a coach. I tried my luck. At first
they looked at me suspiciously -- this western woman in a
brown grandma dress and a bright orange headscarf. I approached
the driver – the only male in the group because I thought
he was the authority. He spoke no English and he ignored me.
Still I was ushered into the bus and 'yes', they were going
all the way to Kashan. Of the 30 passengers one miraculously
spoke English (she was born in the Philippines and married
to an Iranian man). These women were not students, but employees
on a field trip from a hospital near the Caspian Sea. There
were even a few retired midwives in the group. Some of the
younger employees revealed as much hair as possible from under
their headscarves and their faces were heavily painted.
soon as the bus was moving they turned the Iranian music up
to full volume and started dancing in the aisles. Headscarves
and chadors were removed, revealing tight jeans and sexy T-shirts.
One woman even showed off her bare belly. I was offered water,
Coca-Cola, grapes, walnuts and oranges. No refusing! Out came
their photo cameras and mobile phones: I was their subject
and I was famous at last. When the dancers started to get
tired, they also wanted 'me' to stand up and remove my headscarf.
And again, no refusing. This was some kind of a fun party
in a rolling disco, which I will never forget.
soon as the coach reached Kashan, the chadors and headscarves
came out again and the loud music was switched off. Back to
reality -- as if nothing had ever happened. But it did. I
know. I remember and I smile.