Ylona's Dubai Story 1972
Ylona discovered her talent for music when she was 7, learning to play piano and guitar. After completing school in the Netherlands,Ylona could not afford to go to Music Conservatorium. Instead she used her artistic talents in a Studio designing decorations for department stores. There she met her first boyfriend. He played drums in a local Band. One day the Band's bass player wanted to quit the band. Ylona was asked to fill in despite never having played bass guitar before. But with her musical skills enabled Ylona to quickly adapt to playing bass guitar. Ylona became the Band's regular bass guitarist and one of the first female professional bass guitar players!! Ylona eventually joined the band Moana Set and came to play in Dubai in 1972
Finding Clothes & Local Admirers!!
The girls in the Band needed working clothes but there were few shops then and nothing available suitable for performers in a Band. One of the Ambassador Hotel's waiters suggested a tailor he knew. His shop was small and became even smaller when the girls from the Band crowded in. The Tailor was in shock! He became even more so when he had to measure the girls for our dresses! But the dresses he produced were not bad and what we wanted.
An (almost) all girls Band in 1970s Dubai soon attracted a lot of local young men to watch and listen to us perform. Some began offering all sorts of riches for us to go out with them. We knew how to deal with those kinds of approaches! We did not know what to do when one young man really tried to change our minds - he pulled out a revolver and waved it at the Band! A very brave Hotel Manager rushed in to calm this young man and get him to put away his revolver. It was very frightening.
Making Friends"Moan Set" made many good friends none more so than Eric Tulloch. Eric, of course, brought fresh water to Dubai in 1960s. He often invited the Band to his Jumeirah Villa which was on Jumeirah Beach then. Sunsets seen from Jumeirah Beach were magnificent.
Ambassador Hotel's VW Combi Van took us into the desert for the camel race. Camels raced in a straight line with the cars driving alongside the camels. At the end of the track the camels turned around and ran back the same way, as did the cars! Little boys rode the camels. They screamed a lot and hit the camels with a stick. The camels themselves screamed but sounded more like someone with a horrible sore throat. The winner received some money while the owner of a camel that refused to race also received some money. Sheikh Rashid was at the Camel Race. I thought he looked a friendly old man.
We didn't really know about Dubai's dress codes so of course we girls weren’t dressed for the occasion. Some western woman made a point of telling us off about our clothes as as a result! We promised to be more careful about what we wore in the future!
Leaving DubaiI spent just 5 months in Dubai when I had to return home for family reasons. It was the most memorable 5 months of my life. I returned to Dubai for a visit in 2009. I couldn't believe how much Dubai had changed. I felt much of old Dubai's charm had been lost.