While Baghdad remains an intensely conservative region belly dancers and booze have made their triumphant return.
At least 17 night clubs have opened in Baghdad, featuring belly dancers, alcohol and suggestive music, reports Reuters.
"This shows there is democracy in Iraq," said Dally, a 19 -year-old Iraqi bellydancer. "It is healthy for people under pressure to express repressed feelings."
Iraq, once considered a free and easy society in the 70's and 80's, slowly turned more and more conservative. The trend grew rapidly after the U.S.led invasion in 2003, as extreme Islamist groups came to prominence. They imposed hard line conservative ideals, even going so far as threatening women at gun point to dress modestly and keeping unmarried young people separated.
As the violence in the region has gradually subsided, the club scene has slowly returned. It's not uncommon to see a club, like one called "Violent Corner," packed with young Shi'ites, Sunnis, and Kurds who paid $50 to get in, being served their drinks while belly dancers wait to give lap dances.
The club scene isn't just a guilty pleasure for a small segment of society. The new clubs have become a new source of income, a much needed boost, where 45 percent of the workforce is jobless or underemployeed.
Dally, who quit school two years ago to provide for her family since the death of her father, earns $1,000 a month.
"My family's situation was what forced me to take this job," said Dolly, "I fear God, but I had to dance to work."