For those of you who don’t already know, I host a bellydance-inspired podshow called Eclectica, and it’s been a bit since we’ve had an ep. out (thanks to a cross-country move and general life nuttiness). So in celebration of my new place, my utilities being -finally- all hooked-up and functioning, and in honor of my new city & its great bellydance community, I wanted to put out a vibrant, upbeat new episode. ^_^
I’m still kinda sick from the last bout of plague that got me (so I apologize for the clurginess you may hear in my part of the show) but now that I can actually speak & be understood, I -had- to get this out. ^_^
Eclectica’s got music for all kinds of folks; whether you’re into Cabaret, Fusion, Tribal, ATS/ITS (or other styles, like Goth/Industrial & beyond). It features tunes in all kinds of styles, from alllll over the world, and occasionally, you’ll even find a bit of silliness in there too. ;) So if you’re a bellydancer, a fan of world music, or ya just want some great new tunes to groove to, come on over n’ take a listen. :D
Oh! And btw- it’s -totally- free, tons of fun, and FULL of audio pretty that’s alll on the up-and-up (meaning everything I play is either podsafe or artist permitted, w/o exception.). So drop on by, take a listen, and if you like, please feel free to pass it on, come pop a comment on one of the show’s pages, or make a request!
"DJ Selchie" ;)
'Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.'
The Love & Beauty of Zoe Jakes.
(photo: unknown…give us a hint)
Enjoy more tribal belly dance beauties:
Pedestrian Sunday in Kensington Market
Photos by Ken Dobb
I have been belly dancing for a number of years, which means I have been asked questions that make you do a double take just to make sure you are definitely being asked a question that is a little (or very) rude or frustrating.
But alas, some people just don’t know any better and we must take baby steps with them. So if you have any new friends interested in the belly dancer life, maybe you should have a small conversation about what is not really acceptable to ask a dancer.
I’m not saying you can’t ask these questions, I am recommending that you shouldn’t. I don’t hold grudges against people, but I imagine a person really wouldn’t want to be known as, “That person who said he wishes strip clubs were like this.”
So this is a starter list of questions I have personally encountered and have overheard being asked to another dancer these last few years from men and women, old and young.
Questions you probably shouldn’t ask a belly dancer…
1. Isn’t belly dancing like…the same thing as being a hardcore stripper?
- No. If it were, then we would all be happily employed at The Bunny Ranch.
- Have you seen our costumes? Oh, you should sometime! Most of the time, we are basically pinned in amongst the layers of clothing. We do everything in our power to NOT have something fall off.
I could go on for days of how many dancers become enraged at this question. But we can’t be blamed for thinking someone is implying that we are Cathouse strippers. BUT, at the same time, did you really know any better? I’ll dive into this real quick…
Not everyone wearing a belly dance costume is belly dancing! I remember being invited to a stripper club when I was in college in Dallas a couple of years ago. There was a “Harem Girl” theme. I didn’t go, but I knew what their costumes would probably consist of. Just remember that that is exotic dancing, not belly dancing! But hey, unfortunately, every genre of dance has a few…um…let’s call them “not quite” dancers…whose behavior can reflect badly on the genre and community. Think of it like you going to a school where everyone wears uniforms. If a student decides to dress inappropriately…well it doesn’t mean everyone else in the school dresses inappropriately. So if you see a performance where it’s a lot of unflattering gyrating and bump ‘n’ grind on the floor, thinking a lap dance is up next…just remember that that dancer not being a representative of belly dance as a whole is an option.
Normally, if people approach me with this question, I’ll say something lighthearted to relieve the potential tension by saying something like, “Actually, no, getting ready to take a shower after my day job is more like stripping.” So, just never ask this, it will save you a terrible moment of awkwardness.
2. Why do you all show so much stomach?
- NEWSFLASH: Sometimes in belly dancing you can you see our bellies.
Okay, so this question is plain rude, personally. Even if you didn’t mean for it to be. Belly dance costumes expose some of our skin. They can range from a top and bottom to a full-length dress! But in reality…you see more skin revealed from a person at the beach, the club, other dance genres, at the GYM. But seriously, never shun a belly dancer for showing their belly in their costume. Never shun their body either. We are all blessed with one. That is an extremely hurtful thing to say because what us dancers will probably hear is, “Your stomach doesn’t look good enough, you don’t look good enough. Why are you showing it? Why are you dancing?” Belly dancing is for women of all shapes, colors, and sizes and it takes an immense amount of confidence to perform in front of crowds. I actually came across a post of a photographer whose friend (who is a belly dancer and burlesque dancer) gave her opinion on a topic and this snippet fits well for this particular point…
“I love it because it is my choice, skill, and confidence on display. However my audience might feel when they look at me dance, whether they experience enjoyment or joy or embarrassment or offense, that’s really their own deal. It’s none of my business. All I know is that I am having fun, I am fearless, and I am showing off what makes me, me.
And that’s my wish for every woman. I wish every woman could think of their bodies as a fun, natural, empowering thing of beauty. I wish every woman could take control of her sexuality because she wants to and because she knows herself, not because she’s terrified of the circling, drooling wolves. Yes, being a woman can be scary, and a little vigilance is always good. But becoming and being a woman doesn’t have to be such serious business.”
3. Doesn’t your spouse disapprove? Your boyfriend/girlfriend is okay with you doing this?
This doesn’t need much explaining. Bringing someone’s significant other and personal life up into a topic you don’t know well about…*whispers* rude. And it make it sound like belly dancing is taboo.
4. Don’t you have to be super thin to belly dance?
- Also refer back to the response to question 2.
We all come in different shapes and sizes. It’s one of the things that belly dancing celebrates! Anyone can start belly dancing, it’s never too late. A dancer who dances with confidence and joy without apology is that is created when we belly dance. I am so tired of people judging other belly dancers, fantastic ones, about their bodies. “Oh, she’s too thin! When she belly rolls, you can see her ribs” or “Ugh, she’s too fat! When she belly rolls, you can’t even see her stomach roll”. Just enjoy the dance appreciate the dancer for taking their time to create a piece of art to share with the rest of the world. Cultural standards of beauty vary, which is why belly dancing is so beautiful…it’s because everyone is beautiful.
5. (To a male belly dancer) But, you’re a guy. Aren’t women the only ones that should belly dance?
No! It is common for men to dance using many of the same movements we learn in belly dance class, and there are a ton of male belly dancers who are phenomenal.
6. Isn’t it all as easy as it looks? I bet I could that, no problem…what’s so special about belly dancing?
- Also, refer to the response to question 2 again.
No. Practicing belly dancing means discovering new ways of naturally moving your body. Some movements will be easy; others will be hard. When we put it together to form a routine, there will be weeks or months of practice and dedication to get used to. It becomes easier as we practice but the only reason why it looks so easy to you is because we spent so much time in perfecting it as much as possible. And if you think that all belly dancing is easy, then look up a professional drum solo and dance it and nail it the first time. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it.
7. Is it true that belly dancers and good in bed?
Well, way to go to make it awkward!
This question is…I…this…okay…think of it in this way:
When out at a hafla I’m pretty positive guys don’t turn to each other and say, “Jesus, look at that woman over there, her chest locks are amazing. I bet she’s great in bed during cowgirl. Beautiful grapevine!”
Alright, this should be enough to get you started! Just be careful about what questions you ask and how you ask them. Belly dancing is fun, exciting, sensual, beautiful, and inspirational. Join in on the fun. Get yourself to a hafla!