Singer-Songwriter Lisa Hartt Releases Exuberant, Exotic New Single “The Night I Learned To Dance”

In her joyous, wistful new single “The Night I Learned To Dance” – available now – Montreal, QC-born, Port Credit, ON-based Lisa Hartt weaves a story of a hot, exotic desert night that seems almost like yesterday.

In the late ’60s in London, Lisa Hartt had joined an all-girl big band called The Christine Lee Set – today, known as the famous Britain’s Got Talent drummer Crissy Lee. Then, in a spirit of adventure, the band signed a contract to play in Cairo, Egypt, at the Sheraton Hotel.

“One of our tasks was to play for the cabaret, and then the Belly dancer Nagwa Fouad would come on and she was the ‘star’ turn of the evening,” Hartt remembers. “My secret joy was to sneak behind the chorus of the Arabic orchestra and sing the ululations with the ladies while Nagwa twirled. She was simply entrancing.”

One steamy, star-filled night Nagwa asked if the group wanted to go out to the oasis at the pyramids of Giza so she could teach them to dance. The other musicians in the band were hesitant, but Hartt was game.

“I got in a jeep with some military guys and Nagwa, and before long we were driving into the desert night to the mystery of learning belly dancing. I have never forgotten this night – it was magical. ‘The Night I Learned to Dance’ has all the magic I was feeling.”

It was so hot the night I learned to dance
I was aware before the trance.
An aged scheming temptress
Placed a shawl around my hips,
She tipped the silver chalice, honey nectar to my lips.
It was so hot, the night I learned to dance,
The night I learned to dance.

‘The Night I Learned to Dance” was lived over 45 years ago, but it only came to light when Hartt was introduced to Jonas Gideon while they were both performing at Lillaby Festivalen 2023 in Rinkaby, Sweden. Hartt explains how this amazing songwriting collaboration began: “Jonas asked me to enter an experiment and write some lyrics that he then would put to music. Well, I was thrilled to have made this musical connection and I started writing immediately. The result was “The Night I Learned to Dance.”

Another very cool coincidence: Mayada, the lead dancer in the song’s accompanying video, had studied with Nagwa Fouad, the dancer Hartt writes about in the song. Nagwa is still alive at 87 in Cairo. “I can’t wait to reach out to her and reconnect,” Hartt says. “Life is magical, and we are the sum total of all our memories.”

Juno Award-winning producer Chris Birkett (Sinead O’Connor) gave the song his magical touch, which convinced Dance Plant Records to release it with distribution on Sony/The Orchard, proving that older artists can still make it happen with the right team behind them.

Lisa Hartt has had quite a whirlwind year, launching her career back full steam ahead with single releases, an EP release, and two tours to Sweden, the first being the amazing time she was greeted at Lilla By Festivalen as the Canadian legend she truly is. She deserves that recognition for a story long untold about her collaboration with Sweden’s hero, Ted Gardestad.
With a career that dates to the late ’70s, The Lisa Hartt Band topped the charts with a single “Old Time Movie,” which resulted in major tours around the world. The band broke up, but Lisa never stopped honing her craft. Life had some twists and turns that stopped her touring and sometimes performing, but she continued to write and devote her time to celebrating her music.

Jonas Gideon and Lisa Hartt are now continuing to write together, with new songs for future release. “This experience has shown me that the best is yet to come, and age, time and space do not matter,” Hartt said. “It’s all about the magic of the music.”

Hartt recently received the Cashbox Legacy Award, presented to her at the Canadian Embassy in Stockholm, where she was celebrated for her accomplishments and contributions to the Canadian Music Industry.