BY MAHA KENAWY
In celebration of their first anniversary, Bikya, a bookstore and café, hosted a huge musical line up of many underground artists at their Three Days of Festivities, from Thursday March 1st night, all the way to Saturday’s.
The completely jam-packed Bikya living room entertained a large crowd of Cairo’s youngsters from all different ages, most of whom regularly frequent Bikya, and know each other and Bikya owners and staff very well.
On each of the three nights, starting typically around 7:00 pm, Bikya audience were pampered with a selection of various performances on the music spectrum, between solo artists and bands, from the acoustic tunes of vocalist and guitarist Hany Mustafa, to the folk music of talented guitarist Adam Awad; from the comedic music of the band High on Body Fat, to the “Progressive Sees” – as they call it – of Ze Khodz band.
According to Rana El Faramawy, one of the five owners of Bikya and responsible for PR, Marketing, design and events coordination, this event is a reincarnation of the three-day musical festival Bikya had about a year ago, when many of the same underground artists performed at Bikya’s opening on March 3rd, 4th, 5th, 2011.
Ahmed Safi-Eldin, or Safi, an AUC student who plays guitar, nay and is currently the vocalist of Zabaleen band, and vocalist and guitarist of High on Body Fat, was one of the performers at Bikya. In the Three Days of Festivities, Safi performed his first solo set ever on Friday, in addition to the musical comedy High on Body Fat on Saturday. “I enjoyed the hell out of it… I enjoyed the crowd, the vibe was amazing because Bikya is such an intimate place; crowded, so it feels like you are playing a in a living room; it doesn’t feel that scary… I’m very happy it went well, and we are receiving great response from friends. I’m glad tonight happened” Safi explained his feelings about the night.
Adam Awad, an AUC CMA major, also shared the same opinion. “I had an incredible time; it was really nice audience and a great vibe!” Adam has been playing guitar since he was a kid, and started dabbling with songwriting for the past year. Thursday was Adam’s first solo set as well.
Most of these artists, and many others, have performed elsewhere, but they agree that playing in Bikya is quite different! “I love Bikya! It’s one of the most amazing places to play in. it’s incredibly tight and crowded, which is kind of a bummer for the audience, but also creates a very nice atmosphere, and very nice communication with the audience. It brings us closer to the audience”, Marwan Imam, an AUC graduate and the performer in High on Body Fat, stated.
For the past year, Bikya has been to its guests more than just a coffee place or a store for second-hand books. “This is my home away from home. This is my perfect transition between home and work, or home and university… I used to finish university and come to stay here for two hours before I go back home. I got to know a lot of people here,” Nada Salem, an AUC graduate who was among the audience, told us. “The fact that I can actually go to Bikya at anytime and find someone I know, is pretty awesome!”
According to El Faramawy, Bikya has many events regularly, sometimes three or four events a month. They vary between music, politics, awareness, cultural events, book fairs, and scrabble tournaments. In Christmas, for example, they set up a Christmas tree and invited everyone to put something on it. They ended up with a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, in addition to a geeky tree made of a huge sculpture of old books!
“We were friends since high school…We used to go to Soor El Azbakya every week, and compete over who would buy the best book, or bargain to get the cheapest! We’ve always had this idea, but we never had the money… One day we were offered a huge number of books, about more than 2000 books; someone was getting rid of all his books. We took them, of course. We didn’t know what to do with them at first. We thought maybe we should have a big event to sell these books, but then we remembered our idea… The next day we were looking at the place [for Bikya]”. El Faramawy explained the story of how Bikya was born. It’s also worth noting that Bikya is opening a new branch in Maadi soon.
Throughout the three nights, the crowd didn’t cool down or go home before all performances were done, which was around 11:30 pm. The enthusiastic cheering, clapping and singing along were non-stop, starting from Malak Makkar’s music set at the very beginning of the musical festival on Thursday night, to the performance of the band Salalem at the end of Saturday night!