The Harem

The Harem
Picasso's Harem
Pablo Picasso’s depiction of a Harem (1906)
From the Cleveland Museum of Art

Every couple of months, Elie’s Tent presents The Harem Night where customers can enjoy a night of Middle Eastern belly dancing served with our authentic Lebanese cuisines.

But what does “harem” mean?

The Harem originated in the Middle Eastern region as living quarters for women and sometimes children. The name comes from the Arabic word “haram” which means “something forbidden or kept safe”. In this space, women are allowed to rest and take off their head scarves and veils away from the eyes of men.

Often, the Harem is given the connotation of oppressing women by veiling them from society and only allowing them to leave the space when men need them. Although this may be true to some degree, the Harem is also a sanctuary for women and children especially when they are given the freedom to express themselves in this space through art. They are taught to recite poetry, play musical instruments and dance to traditional and folk music.

The women are also taught to “master the erotic arts” to serve as entertainment for the sultan and his men especially during the Ottoman Empire. Unfortunately, this became the focus of Western portrayal of the Harem. Popular culture has adopted this aspect of the Harem to label the Middle Eastern culture. The misrepresentation of what the Harem is an how women acted and were treated in this space also became the topic for popular art, therefore further spreading inaccurate information.

As more papers and lectures given by Middle Eastern professors on the topic continue to surface, people are now starting to get a better understanding of history and their connotation about the Harem is slowly changing. The modern representation of the Harem is now leaning towards the cultural artistic aspect; more and more people are now relearning what the Harem is all about.

At Elie’s Tent, The Harem is a special night of music and dancing. Diners are entertained with belly dancing accompanied by authentic Middle Eastern music. The dancers enthral the diners with their enchanting performances coupled with musical instruments and stage props. Kids enjoy the presentation especially when the dancers teach them belly dancing and perform with them afterwards.

The Harem Nights at Elie’s Tent happens every few months, but we are open for request performances during special events happening at the restaurant. Just call (08) 6111 4145 to inquire about this feat. You can also email us at to know more about how you can request for a special Harem Night when you book with us at Elie’s Tent.

Stay tuned for our announcement on when the next Harem Night will be!

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