Okay, and now for the story of worst gig I’ve had in Turkey so far. I’ve had quite a few bad gigs, so let me rephrase that as the most frightening gig so far.
Let me start off by saying I hate the system in Turkey of sharing tips. Unfortunately, it’s almost everywhere you go. You’re expected to dance among the crowd and collect tips, then the manager, the choreographer (if there is one), or even the venue that hired you expects you to split those tips with them.
If it’s the venue that’s taking your tips, it’s most likely going to be a dingy, grimy, hole in the wall. Enter Beyzade, where the fixed menu with unlimited drinks is half the price it would be at a nice place. I hated working at Beyzade. The customers are so broke that they’re stingy–unlike normal customers who go out to enjoy live entertainment, spend money accordingly, and tip generously and with joy, you practically have to reach into these people’s pockets to squeeze a five lira note out of them. Then the sleaze bags at Beyzade want 2.5o of your five lira. It’s degrading.
Still, it was a regular gig, one of the few that I had during my first few months dancing in Turkey, and near my house, so I dealt with it until I found something better. (When I found something in Cihangir, at a place where I actually earned good money and no one took it from me, I flew out of there.)
A friend of mine had been working at Beyzade for a few years, and bless her heart, she was trying to help me when she invited me to work there with her. One night, after I had moved on to a place where I felt more comfortable and treated with respect, this friend asked me to sub for her at Beyzade, as she wasn’t feeling well. She would talk with the people in charge to make sure the program started early so I could get to my other gig in time.
I didn’t want to go. It’s not a classy place. I go dressed in full costume, because the management just walks into the office without knocking, and if you happen to be in there changing, they say, “I’m not looking” and barge in anyway.
Intuition had told me months ago never to set foot in that place, but against my better judgement, I agreed to go.
It started off badly. Management refused to let me perform 15 minutes early, as previously agreed, although the singer had assured me it was no problem for her, and the other two dancers said they would actually prefer to go on stage slightly earlier. They “compromised” and started our music at 10:57 instead of 11. After five minutes in the dining room, I was fed up. The customers were stingy and I’m not a beggar. The only tips I’d collected were the $20 lira that the waitress gives each dancer. I was going to be late for my next job if I stayed around harassing diners for tips, so I turned on my heel and headed back to the office.
This is when I made my cheeky mistake. I was leaving early, hadn’t collected any money for the restaurant to take from me, so I figured these worthless individuals were going to complain about it. I decided to save them the trouble by returning their meager 20 lira note. I stuck in the collar of one of the bosses (the biggest asshole of all) on my way out of the dining room.
He was furious. He proceeded to follow me out of the dining room, yelling at me. ”Who do you think you are?” I ran down the stairs and he pursued, catching up to strike me on the side of the neck. I’m not a violent person, but I hit the mu-f*cker back and started screaming like a crazy person. He tried to strangle me after that. I don’t think he was actually trying to kill me, but I wasn’t sure, so I kept screaming and headed for the office. I made it into the office and thank goodness the singer and (her manager?) were in there. They weren’t much help, but they did tell Ahmet not to hit me again.
I threw my stuff in my bag, shrieking the whole time, and hoping everyone in the whole place heard me.
My friend was asked not to come back. She was kind of upset with me, but geez, why would she want to come back to such a place?
Beyzade is located off of Istaklal Caddesi, in Taksim, Istanbul in Terkoz Çarşısı.