Baptized in tears
Googoosh concert or collective rozeh khooni?
By Setareh Sabety-Javid
August 29, 2000
I went to see Googoosh in New York the other night. The concert was
more like a collective roezeh khooni -- a tearful cleansing bash,
sort of like an EST meeting with 12,000 people crying all at once. Except
there we all cried for one thing: Iran.
The music was not good. It never was. She didn't sing many of the old
favorites and her new ones were neither very political nor that catchy.
She looked good and sang well enough. But what was special for us was our
hunger for any little gesture that would take us on a wave to the past.
It didn't matter that she didn't dance or forgot some of her lines.
Our collective need was what took this concert beyond a Pop revival. No,
this light pastiche of a concert, which loyal to Googoosh's tradition borrowed
from all and became none, was about something larger. It was about sexuality
and freedom and a place all of us remember to varying degrees as Iran.
It was about being able to let your bleached hair blow in the balmy
summer nights of Tehran.
That night we cried because we would all rather have been listening
to her in Tehran than in New York, or Toronto or Los Angeles. We screamed
our throats dry in the collective hope of that happening some day. As if
screams and tears -- if sufficiently shed -- could miraculously take us
This concert, and indeed Googoosh herself, was about women and music
and their right to express their sexuality loudly through a microphone
in a Thierry Mugler dress and still feel Iranian. It was a collective affirmation
of our "Western struck" gharb-zadeh identity.
There we stood in Uniondale, New York, by the thousands and danced our
hearts out in one huge gesture that said, "We, in all our multi-faceted
cultural confusion, are one people."
That Saturday night we all stood firmly on our two Iranian feet, in
a puddle of tears, knowing, perhaps more than ever in these past twenty
years, that yes, we are Iranians. Our common tears that night, baptized