The Night I Learned to Dance 


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.

Her single “The Night I Learned To Dance” is available now.



 A four-song EP by Lisa Hartt


The concept for this EP began over 40 years ago with my decision to become healthy, heal my mind, body and spirit, and start my recovery journey.

The songs were recorded and produced during the pandemic, which gave me a lot of time to reflect on my 40 years of clean, sober living. I was fortunate to be able to work with Chris Birkett who is a multi-talented, award-winning producer, singer/songwriter, composer and sound engineer. His music collaborations with A-list international artists like Sinead O’Connor, Alison Moyet, Dexys Midnight Runners, Talking Heads, The Pogues, Bob Geldof, Quincy Jones, Mel Brooks and Steve Earle have sold over 100 million records and earned four Canadian Junos, a Grammy, a Polaris Music Prize and three international AMPEX Golden Reel Awards for excellence in the music business.

Chris is no stranger to Canadian music, and is now a proud citizen, having co-produced five award winning albums for the legendary Buffy Sainte-Marie, including her comeback album “Coincidence and Likely Stories” (1992) and the Juno winning “Running for the Drum” (2009).

 In Chris, I found a like-minded friend. We have both been working towards developing conscious awareness in our lives, and he understood what I was trying to say in the songs and how I wanted the soundscape to be.

I recorded my vocals and acoustic guitar at home and then sent the tracks to Chris. He would weave his magic until I was happy with the results.

I wanted to celebrate going into my 40th year of sobriety in song, with gratitude for a spiritual program that I live by every day, and the compassion I have for everyone who is still out there suffering. 

The four songs tell the story of my journey in recovery and, hopefully, convey my own experience, strength, and hope.

 1. “Don’t Tell me How I Feel” – was initially written about my brother’s journey into mental illness. Then I realized that the song was also speaking of our family’s experience with Christopher’s mental illness. Christopher did not make it and suffered for most of all his life, finally succumbing to death in 2015 from causes related to mental illness. The chorus really is the main thrust of the song as he (or me) is pleading that we don’t try to “fix him” but just “hear him.” He was a beautiful man, very loving and intelligent and my best friend when we were young. I believe the song evokes a strong reaction to the plight of human suffering and the many faces of mental illness and addiction. A cry for help is the beginning, but not necessarily the end.

2. “Wasted” – was written when I was still actively drinking and working hard out on the road trying to overcome the need to self sabotage every night. The story is a real time sequence of events and the play on the word “wasted” was to depict the self knowledge that arose in the person who was so obviously out of control. It takes a long time to wake up, while you’re in the depth of addiction; it can seem that nothing is happening, but even a small hint of clarity can begin to alter the course in one’s life. I wanted the guitars to be raw and the voice flat and electronic in a way that was real, depicting the numb feeling of going through the day in an altered state. The bridge is about my family reaching out to help.

    “Cinderella, where you been all night?

     I’ve been to a show mama,

    Telling everyone where to go mama,

    Now I am coming home to you… wasted.”

3. “Sail Away” – is a parable using a sea voyage to explore the depths of a dark night of despair and how the protagonist rides out the storm, (musically, the intricate sounds of the storm and the ballast crashing in the hold is effective at manifesting this rage and despair). The storm subsides, the ocean is once again calm, and she finally reaches out and asks for help before disappearing and surrendering to a “power greater than herself.”

4. “Tell the Truth” – is the reflection of a hero’s journey – the quest, the journey into despair and plunge into the abyss, to finally remerge fresh and clear eyed, with the knowledge of the truth shining as a golden beacon. With the use of lively, joyful sounds – an accordion for example – and an almost reggae beat, one can almost feel the wheels of the wagon rolling on as we listen to the verses. It is a fruitful resolution after many years of trial and error, success and failure, to be truly peaceful in my own skin.