Little Egypt (dancer)

Little Egypt was the stage name for two popular exotic dancers. They had so many imitators, the name became synonymous with exotic dancers generally.

Farida Mazar Spyropoulos, (c. 1871, date of death unknown), also performing under the stage name Fatima, appeared at the "Street in Cairo" exhibition on the Midway at the World's Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893.

Ashea Wabe danced at the Seeley banquet in New York in 1896, enjoying a fleeting succès de scandale.

Farida Mazar Spyropoulos

In 1893, at the Egyptian Theater on the World's Columbian Exposition Midway in Chicago, Raqs dancers performed for the first time in the United States. Sol Bloom presented a show titled "The Algerian Dancers of Morocco", which included Spyropoulos, though she was neither Egyptian nor Algerian, but Syrian. Spyropoulos was billed as Fatima, but because of her size, she had been called "Little Egypt" as a backstage nickname.

Spyropoulos stole the show, and popularized this form of dancing, which came to be referred to as the "Hoochee-Coochee", or the "shimmy and shake". Another name for the dance is "danse du ventre", which is French for "belly dance". Today the word "hootchy-kootchy" generally means an erotic suggestive dance.

Subsequently, several women dancers adopted the name of Little Egypt and toured the United States, until the name became somewhat synonymous with exotic dancers, and generally associated with the Dance of the Seven Veils. Spyropoulos then claimed to be the original Little Egypt from the Chicago Fair. Recognized as the true Little Egypt, she always disliked being confused with Ashea Wabe, after Wabe's performance at the Seeley banquet.

Spyropoulos danced as Little Egypt at the 1933 Century of Progress in Chicago at the age of 62.

Ashea Wabe

Ashea Wabe became front-page news item in 1896 after she danced at a swank Fifth Avenue bachelor party for Herbert Seeley. A rival dancer falsely reported that Wabe was going to dance nude and the party was raided by the vice squad.

The raid brought some amount of fame to Wabe. She was hired by Broadway impresario Oscar Hammerstein I to appear as herself in a humorous parody of the Seeley dinner. She might have then been forgotten except for a series of photographs taken by Benjamin Falk.


Legacy in film

Legacy in music

  • Rock and Roll tunesmiths Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller penned a song entitled "Little Egypt" that was a 1961 hit for The Coasters. In the song, Little Egypt is depicted as a burlesque dancer/stripper, wearing "nuttin' but a button and a bow".
  • Elvis Presley performed the Lieber and Stoller song in his 1964 film Roustabout, and included it in his legendary 1968 TV special Elvis.
  • Ray Wylie Hubbard mentions both Tempest Storm and Little Egypt in the title track of his album Snake Farm when discussing the singer's girlfriend Ramona who works at a reptile house.

Well a woman I love is named Ramona
She kinda looks like Tempest Storm
And she can dance like Little Egypt
She works down at the snake farm

See also


  • Carlton, Donna Looking for Little Egypt. International Dance Discovery.

External links

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