If you’re in Istanbul and interested in Turkish music and dance, then you should shimmy along to a Turkish Night. Favorite venues are Sultanas (www.sultanas-nights.com) and Karavansaray (www.kervansarayistanbul.com) in Taksim or Gar Gazino (www.garmuzikhol.com) in Yenikapi (near Sultanahmet).
Most programs boast a bevy of talented belly dancers, folkloric dancers, and performers who re-enact cultural celebrations such as regional and Ottoman-style weddings. On occasion, you may see a comical performance by a flirty duo, Aşuk and Maşuk, who frolic with one another and the crowd in a dance of playful love. The show generally culminates in a program of party anthems from around the world sung by a pitch-perfect multilingual singer.
Tickets include transfers to/from your hotel, three-course meals, and drinks (local alcohol only). The top belly dancers at these venues do teach and perform worldwide, so the standard of performance is high.
Hodjapasa (www.hodjapasha.com) is also a favorite for its ambience and performances set in a 550 year old hamam in historic Sirceki. However, tickets do not include dinner, only soft drinks, tea, and coffee.
Shows generally start around 9pm and finish by 11pm. Always confirm the program upon booking, and if you’re interested in busting some moves, don’t be shy—most audience members from the Balkan and Middle Eastern countries perform their own national dances once the curtain comes down on the show.