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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Have Costume, Can Dance!


By Saqra




Packing the Serendipity Bag

Be prepared! In other words, "Always Have a Serendipity Costume in your Car!"

You love to dance? You want to dance? Then be prepared to dance!

You can dance all over the world if you are ready. You need:

  • A small bag
  • "Wash and wad" costume
  • Sheer veil
  • Cymbals that are not your favorites (if you play them)
  • Lipstick and mascara/liner if you don't normally carry street make-up with you
  • Small hairbrush if you don't usually carry one
  • Razor unless you're the sort who doesn't use one
  • 1 CD with 5 min, 10 min, 15 min routines (2 copies)

Put all of the above items into the small bag, then put it into your car's trunk. If you are flying, stick the bag in the bottom of your suitcase.

If this were a regular gig bag, I would include safety pins, emergency dance shoes, sunscreen, and several other important regular gig items. However, this is your serendipity gig bag. You may use the contents all the time, or you may use it only once in two years.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Sarah Selwood, Leeds, United Kingdom.




Why Do You Need a Serendipity Bag?

What if a spot suddenly comes open in a belly dance show? Or there's an opportunity for a spontaneous performance at that women's conference? Or a talent show on that Caribbean cruise? Or a million other places that an unexpected belly dance opportunity could arise?

You can't perform if you are not ready with costume and other supplies. If you are ready you will be stunned how many times you can be an ambassador of belly dance with your skilled and elegant performance.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California.




Details About the Bag Contents

The item breakdown:

The Small Bag

Make it small for real. If it is too big, you will be tempted to throw in everything in the world: jewelry, extra bottle of hair spray, false eyelashes, a good (but heavy) costume, and more.


"Wash and Wad" Belly Dance Costume

Think simple. Think NOT heavy. A simple flashy-fabric tunic and light belt. A "choli" and harem pants or closed circle skirt. A twilight velvet dress. A spandex outfit that isn't heavily beaded. Something simple and attractive that doesn't wrinkle and is of course in good condition. Remember: this is not for sudden stage show use, but for sudden use on the break of a band or a family reunion or a fair or festival or class reunion or a wine tasting event.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California.


Sheer Veil

This does double duty. You can use it as a veil if you use veils, but you can also use it as a modesty garment for a more conservative event when you have selected something two piece as your costume. Take the veil, twist it once in the middle so it holds its shape, then take it and drape it over one shoulder, blouse it, and tuck the hanging parts into or under your belt. It won't cover everything but it will cover the potentially crowd-shocking tummy! Chiffon and any number of human-made fabrics survive being folded for an extended period of time without becoming wrinkled.


Finger Cymbals (If You Play Them)

Choose a set that are not your favorites, because you aren't going to use these very often.


Lipstick and Mascara/Eyeliner

You need the lipstick to use as blush and lipstick. Mascara, eyeliner, or a dark powdered eyeshadow wand is enough to balance the colored lips for informal. If the product isn't a weird color you may be able to carefully darken your brows as well. Visible eyebrows are surprisingly important for performance. Just buy new, cheap make-up since it is only for emergency use.


Small Hairbrush

This is actually optional. I assume you got wherever you are with your hairstyle intact. But I like to have one in there. The ends of your hair kind of clump throughout the day and I don't like that look on me.



But only if you use them. Otherwise, if that's not your style you can skip it. Pack a cheap plastic safety one. Just in case.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California.


Two Copies of a CD With Music

This should contain about three different routines, of varying lengths, such as 5 minutes, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes. Design actual planned routines that you have thought out. Don't just throw a collection of random songs you like onto a CD. The pre-planned routines will give you a better performance. You want several lengths to choose from because telling the sound person to stop your music after the third piece or fade it out in five minutes does not show any kind of professionalism. A set with a definite conclusion OF THE CORRECT LENGTH will make you more appreciated. Carry two copies of the same CD - in case one doesn't work, maybe the other will.

Include one longer civilian "birthday" set with upbeat catchy music and a minimum of dramatic slow or lengthy drum solo pieces. Civilians don't really want to watch you. They want to watch a bit, and then party with you. So include something for them to get up and dance!




Closing Thoughts

Jam all those items into the little bag, and send me the stories of your adventures!

Your mileage may vary, but you'll probably get quite a bit more mileage!



About the Author

Saqra (Seattle, Washington, USA) is a powerful dance artist and a master instructor. Her fluidity, grace, and technical skill is highlighted by her friendly demeanor and clear joy of the dance. She did not inherit the diva gene.

Saqra won titles in Belly Dance USA (Oregon), Belly Dancer of the Year (California), Belly Dancer of the Universe (California), Wiggles of the West (Nevada), and many other competitions. She was voted "Best Kept Secret of 2005" and "Instructor of the Year 2008" by readers of Zaghareet Magazine.

Saqra's journey in this dance form began in 1977 and has led her to study with many of the best dancers in the world, including in America, Canada, Turkey and Egypt. Saqra continues to travel and study both in the USA and abroad and prides herself on proper research for anything she teaches. Folklore, fakelore, and stage creativity: all three are valuable, and Saqra clearly presents for each what they actually are. Saqra is constantly expanding her expertise in the traditional ethnic forms of the dance, the modern stage variants, and the continuing evolving fusion techniques, all these areas combined keep her material fresh and current.

Saqra is widely known as an event promoter, musician, music and instructional video producer, and a registered hypnotherapist in the state of Washington. That is enough stuff to start explaining what she has been doing in belly dance since 1977. Visit her at

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California. In the photo, Saqra is holding her Teacher of the Year 2008 Award from Zaghareet Magazine.

Saqra with Award



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