The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

Arts & Culture

Makan: A Place of Cultural Keepsake

Makan: A Place of Cultural Keepsake
    written by
    Hannah Cooper

    Situated on the corner of Saad
    Zaghloul and Mansour Street
    in the shabby yet chic neighbourhood of Mounira, Makan provides a cosy ambience
    and stellar atmosphere for live music performances and other art forms that
    have historically breathed life into the Egyptian community.

    More notable than
    its convenient location, however, is Makan’s admirable purpose; the
    establishment, which is also known as The Egyptian Centre for Culture and Art, serves
    to be much greater than just a modest venue to hear a little music every once
    in awhile.  

    Makan’s aim as a music venue
    and art space is to not only to record and present traditional Egyptian music
    in a sacred yet relational way, but also to encourage individuals to take part
    in the re-awakening of a culturally significant Egyptian arts and music scene. In
    recent years, its significance has been seemingly glossed over by uniformity,
    modern conventionalism, and lack of aspiration to, heaven forbid, experience
    anything culturally relevant and historically rich.

    For the heritage of this
    timeless arts and music scene to survive, ranging from dance and music to
    poetry and spoken word, venues such as Makan are critical for conservation.

    On Tuesday evenings, as you enter
    the eclectic dwelling space of Makan’s performance area, various instruments will be found lining the stage, ranging from a saxophone to the
    Egyptian arghoul (woodwind instrument) and enough percussions to have you moving
    to the anticipated beats before the show even begins.

    Nass Makan takes the stage and
    you realize the beauty of tradition and the peace in keeping it alive. Whether
    you choose to sit in the dimly lit loft overlooking the performers or catch a
    seat close enough to feel the vibrations of the bass, the interaction between
    the performers and the audience provides an intimate setting to truly embrace
    the music of the moment. From the jazz-infused rhythms, combined with
    traditional Egyptian and Sudanese styles, to the sultry, powerful voice of
    Sudanese singer Asia , Nass Makan is a sweet,
    musical jewel that shouldn’t be missed.

    The fresh sound and symbolic
    nature of the music is a rare find these days. If a free Tuesday can’t be
    found, the Mazaher ensemble plays on Wednesdays, including a tamboura
    (six-string lyre) and manjour (leather belt with goat hooves). The Mazaher ensemble
    is one of the last Zar performance groups in Egypt ; so it’s a unique and enlightening
    experience.

    Don’t miss the self-serve tea
    and karkade station and make sure to arrive early to guarantee good seating. CDs are often sold at the door after the performances, providing a great
    way to not only support the artists but to continue being part of Makan’s
    ambitious aim of keeping the traditional Egyptian arts and music scene alive.

    For more information on other
    activities at Makan and The Egyptian Centre for Culture and Art, including
    their resident centres for artists, visit their website or call 27920878 .

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