DINING WITH THE BERBERS, BERBER FANTASY NIGHT MARRAKECHMay 11, 2002 (Updated May 9, 2005) Write an essay on this topic.
The Bottom Line A little touristy, a little flashy, but still worth the price, if just for the meal alone.
The line of Berber horsemen came charging out of the darkness, bellowing at the top of their lungs. Twenty feet away from me they halted as if on a dime and leveled their ancient Jebel Muskets. There was a blinding flash, a deafening boom and the whole area was masked in powder smoke and the acrid stink of gunpowder.
As my heart beat slowly returned to normal, one thought flashed through my mind. This was probably the last thing some poor soul in the Foreign Legion would have seen as they marched across this same dessert a hundred years earlier.
Fortunately for me I was safely seated in a packed bleacher and the charge I had just witnessed was only part of an elaborate dinner theater, staged nightly outside of Marrakech. The horsemen trooped off the field to well-deserved applause and were immediately replaced by another troop of dancers and musicians. Welcome to Berber Fantasy Night, an evening of traditional Moroccan dinner, music and showmanship available for tourists visiting Marrakech.
Your evening's adventure begins with a short bus ride from your hotel to the outskirts of the city. Here you are dropped off at an ancient fortress structure that looks like a set from a Thousand and One Arabian Nights. An honor guard of musicians and horsemen are on hand to escort you through the entrance.
Passing through the building, you enter into a giant open rectangular field surrounded on all sides by bleachers. Around this are massive colorful tents. Inside the tents, all beautifully decorated, you are seated in small groups for dinner.
Dinner is a mouth watering several course meal of couscous and other Moroccan delicacies. While you enjoy your meal, several troupes of musicians and dancers move about the tents. You are literally serenaded while you dine. Each group is from one of the various Berber tribes.
They are dressed in their colorful traditional costumes and they play music that is also representative of their tribe. Take note though. The dancers will often pull you up to join them. You'll find yourself literally singing, or at least dancing, for your supper. This of course will provide much amusement for your dining companions.
After the final course and strong Arab coffee or traditional mint tea, you take your seats in the
bleachers. Under powerful spotlights, the musicians and dancers continue with their performances. They are joined by some of the best horseman in the world, who put on a spectacular display of riding.
One of my fellow diners, had attended this feast several years earlier and pointed out then it was a much simpler event then. Dinner was served in a single tent in the dessert and the show was a lot less polished, but perhaps more authentic.
Now there are modern additions, include tables, chairs, and cutlery for those who feel they need them. I personally preferred reclining on a bed of cushions, at least when I could get away from the attention of the dancers. Bottled water and a very good local wine are also available with your meal.
Some aspects of the present show are perhaps a little too, touristy, too showy, including the finale with fireworks, a laser show, and a hologram flying carpet. However the dinner alone is worth the 400 Dirham ($40.00 US) cost. Reservations can be made through the front desk of any hotel. If you find yourself in Marrakech for the night and looking for something to eat and to pass the night, I highly recommend this.
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