About Lily Splane
the “Master Zillist”
Lily Splane was raised in Otay, a drain opening for Chula Vista, in the south county of San Diego. At age 13, she and her family became experimental pioneers, transplanting themselves to a spacious ranch near Brown Field Municipal Airport, somewhat farther south and east of Chula Vista. There, she and the family lived and worked with nearly 200 goats, plus horses, donkeys, numerous chickens, turkeys, guinea and other domestic fowl, 40-odd cats, rabbits, pigs, and a few cattle.
Lily spent till age 33 on a ranch, training horses, milking and herding goats, building and repairing corrals and barns, and generally living as if time-warped to the 19TH century. “It was fantastic,” she says. She learned how to do many things, and is confident that she can survive in the wild “should the economy collapse anytime soon.”
At age 18, Lily saw her first belly dancer, and fell in love with the sensuality—even eroticism—of the art. She got smuggled into nightclubs often so as to secretly teach herself this ancient form of expression. A closet dancer for 2 years, Lily eventually went professional at age 21. By age 26, Lily, known on stage as “Layla,” was considered one of the top 5 dancers in San Diego, of approximately 100 dancers performing at the time. She danced and instructed until 1986, at which time she was forced to quit due to spinal arthritis.
Layla performed at some of the biggest galas in San Diego from the early 70s through mid-80s. Some of the public venues where Layla could be seen included King Louis' Inn, The Purple Turtle, Tom Hom's Teapot Inn, Hajji Baba's, Al Salaam Restaurant, Alex II Restaurant, Georgio's, The Greek Taverna, Casa Blanca, The Seven Veils, Grecian Gardens, Athena's, Tandoori Oven Restaurant, Mykonos, and the Viking Princess cruise to Ensenada.
Layla frequently worked with accomplished Chaldean drummer Basil Bahri. “Layla & Basil” performed their electrifying precision drummer/dancer duel on stage at night clubs, university productions, and art events throughout San Diego county. Lily credits her advanced understanding of Mid-East rhythm to Basil, whose exquisite drumming technique inspired her to excel in lightning-fast shimmy transitions, to which she also played her zills.
Though it is not her full-time work, Lily still teaches zill technique and Mid-East rhythm theory privately, in addition to the occasional seminar or workshop. Her Zills on Fire CD/study guide is sold all over the world to eager-to-learn dancers of all levels.
Lily's regular day-to-day work includes providing book production services to independent publishers and college professors, and troubleshooting, repairing, and building computer systems.
Lily and late her friend Brenda Caste revived a small publishing company called Anaphase Publishing. Anaphase’s books can be found for sale on Cyberlepsy, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and many other bookstores around the world.
Lily spends her free time with her beloved Richard Steiger (an accomplished musician, music engineer, and ethnomusicologist), composing music, playing drums, writing books for publication, painting (both with brush and pixels), reading, watching movies, visiting museums, ethnic cooking, world music, frolicking with friends, and laughing.