Soiree

A few months ago I asked where the women in KSA wore also those hot and chic clothes I see for sale in the windows of stores in the malls. I now know where a large number of them are worn: parties at the American Embassy.

The Marine Detachment at the Embassy host parties about once a month here, but it’s not easy to get an invite. You have to know somebody who knows someone who knows somebody else. Then, you can get on an email list where you may or may not get an invite to buy a ticket for whatever themed party is going on in that specific month. If you can bring a female guest, you will usually get an invite. If you can bring two females, you will always get invited.

I didn’t realize so many Western women worked in Riyadh until Thursday night. But, they do. And, given their abaya requirements on the outside, they apparently love to dress to the nines when they get invited to these get-togethers. High-heels, short skirts, tight tops…or…tight tops, skin-tight jeans, high-heels. Though some dressed a tad more modestly, there was an awful lot of thigh and decolletage in attendance. Turns out most of them work at King Faisal Specialty Hospital, where the Royals go, and where common folk like me have to once again have a special invite and referral to gain treatment.

I guess you really can’t call it a get-together, either. By the time they issued last call (a REAL last call, btw), there were between 300 and 400 people in attendance. A long buffet table provided enough food to feed that many people easily, and there were a couple of custom cook stations available, too. Beef Wellington, a couple of prawn dishes, various types of chicken, many different kinds of salad, shwarma sandwiches, Arabic fare – the only way to go hungry was not come to the Embassy that night.

A DJ played a good mix of pop music from various decades; although, despite being billed as Western Night, there was a very limited offering of Country music. I watched one young woman dance with a guy in a white shirt for most of the night. From their accomplished moves and steps, I would guess they were Swing dancers. At one point, her partner held her as she did an in-place backflip, perfectly choreographed to the music.

For a while, they were the only two on the dance floor, but around 9pm, the DJ put a couple of Arabic songs on, and the dance floor filled to capacity. Another couple of of Arabic songs, and the dance party was underway. Rock & Roll, 1970s Disco (people still like The Bee Gees and K.C. & The Sunshine Band, it turns out), and modern dance music kept 200 or so people dancing at any given time. It’s fun watching people cut loose and have fun.

My friend (who got me the ticket) and I left about 12am and returned to a foreign land once more. Sure had a good time while I was elsewhere, though.

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