Intended to supply Western readers with a comprehensive account of private and public life in the Egypt of this period, Manners and Customs is a useful and apt starting point for an exploration of dance and modernity in the Middle East. Indeed, Lane’s ethnographic information is detailed and engaging, yet there is also the fascination of many layers of performance that take place through this writing that concern dance as cultural and artistic practice in the colonial Orient. Attracting great and consistent attention since its publication, Manners and Customs is the Western reader’s introduction to the famous, celebrated, and exotic dance gures of the Middle East. Their public performances as observed by Lane, but also a number of Western travellers since Lane, take place through the discursive frame of Western writing and are delivered to us as much more than just a cultural manifestation. These writers mobilized a trope of the Middle Eastern dancers and the East, more generally, as an imaginary site for their imposed fantasies (Said 1978). Desire and disapprobation, for example, are embedded in Lane’s description of the dance movement and its historical associations:

The Ghawázee perform, unveiled, in the public streets, even to amuse the rabble. Their dancing has little of elegance; its chief peculiarity being a very rapid vibrating motion of the hips, from side to side. They commence with a degree of

decorum; but soon, by more animated looks, by a more rapid collision of their castanets of brass, and by increased energy in every motion, they exhibit a spectacle exactly agreeing with the descriptions which Martial and Juvenal have given of the performances of the female dancers of Gades.