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

To Men Who Think
They Want to "Acquire" a Bellydancer

By Joy

This isn't a diatribe against all men who think, "Hey... she has a nice smile, I might like to know her." It's about the ones who think, "Hey... she could be my harem slave. I need to go acquire her." There is a difference, and you can see it in their eyes when they speak to you.

You don't.

What on earth is she raving about now?

I will tell you.

You went to that event; the one with people wandering around in costumes, playing roles, acting out an imagined part in their own interpretation of a history that was nothing so entertaining, glamorous, or fun-filled as watching these people might lead you to believe.

Or you found a festival with entertainment.

Or you went to a restaurant that had people dancing while you dined.

You caught the show. There were women dancing. Oh my. They wore colorful, attractive costume, designed to catch the eye and enhance the movement of their art. Dear me.

After they had finished, you approached.

What made you think you could approach?

Yes, we like to hear from audience members who enjoyed the show. We do appreciate a compliment here and there about what we do. Your inquiries of where to send your mother / sister / girfriend / friend to take lessons are more than welcome. Even questions about how long we've been dancing, or what made us start dancing, aren't completely unwelcome.

Why must you get personal? Why must you indicate how you'd like to date / marry / be with this dancer or that? Whatever made you think that any of these women are on that stage for any reason even remotely related to that? What makes you think she would be interested?

Seriously.

The microbiologist, or lawyer, or athlete, or college student, or mother, or grandmother, who dances in her spare time... (I'm not even going to go into how little time a truly professional dancer has for this nonsense.)

  1. Most likely has a boyfriend or husband.
  2. If #1 isn't true, she isn't going to look for a potential mate at an event where she dances. C'mon... what are the odds she's going to find someone there that meets her life standards?
  3. She knows, with a fair degree of certainty, that most people she might meet at a gig are not looking at her as a human. What they want is the construct of the dancer. It's that image of graceful, exotic beauty that they're after. We don't look like this in real life, boys. We really don't.

You see, we are not defined by the sparkle, and the jingle, and the striking makeup, and the artfully arranged hair, or the interesting, artfully crafted costume. That's the image. That's part of the performance. We cannot be defined by the slow, graceful movements, or the sharp punctuations of our hips, shoulders, arms. It's entertainment. It's art. We enjoy it. We hope the audience does, too.

We aren't on that stage to advertise wares. What you see is what you get. That's all you get. We dance. And we're not dancing just for you. We're dancing for the vast sea of faces out there, to bring a little enjoyment to the world for the brief time we have the stage. We're dancing for ourselves, because it empowers us, it pleases us, it makes us enjoy our day more, it provides exercise, and we're pleased with what we've learned and accomplished, and want to share it with our friends and others. Ask a good many married or mated dancers, and they'll tell you they rarely, if ever, dance just for their mate. It's not that they don't like their mate, but you know... we dance so much anyway, if they want to see us dance, they can just come along to the gig.

Most dancers are not going to get involved with someone who has approached at a performance. A person with stars in their eyes over the dazzling display they just saw is not going to look at a dancer and see the real person she is. It just doesn't happen. The atmosphere is unreal and contrived. This is not conducive to true understanding of an individual.

And let's face it. Nobody dances to pick up guys. If we wanted to do that, we'd hit the bar or club as just regular people. That requires a whole lot less preparation,less makeup, and is way cheaper in the costuming department. (It's also a whole lot less work. No picking songs, no burning them to cd, no practicing, no getting up in front of a crowd and hoping you don't forget what you're doing...)

Let's touch on another point that you probably haven't thought about.

We're expensive.

I'm not saying high-maintenance... but... ok, maybe we are. Thing is, we've already found a way to provide ourselves with what we need for our art. We don't need you.

But if you did have a dancer, do you have any idea how much time she spends at classes, workshops, rehearsals, performances, going to other dancers' performances? Do you realize that there are large events everywhere... and she wants to go to them all? This costs a lot of money. Gas, if she's driving. Airfare if it's farther afield. Accommodations. A lot of these events are at least 2 days in length. Some longer.

She's not going to want you tagging along and slavering after her, wanting attention when she's trying to focus on the workshops, the performances, shopping the vendors to see who has the best price on that latest sparkly thing that will go with that costume she's been planning for the last six to twelve months.

Costuming. that ain't cheap. If you buy it ready made, you're looking at hundreds to thousands of dollars. For one outfit. And it usually still requires altering. Seamstresses cost money. If she has the skills to make her own, it might be a tiny bit less costly, but quality fabrics and components still aren't free. What she makes up in cost, she pays for in time. It takes a great deal of time to create and shape a costume to flatter the wearer. It takes planning, and a whole bunch of hunting for just the right fringe, the right material, the right trim to match the right color...

Expensive. Time and money.

What makes you think the woman who already has all that in her life is looking for someone whose eyes glaze over when she dances? There's no time for that.

She has relationships, most likely very fulfilling ones, in her life. She has family, friends, her dance associates, other dancers, musicians, teachers. She doesn't need some dude with unrealistic expectations of who she's going to be.

Bottom line, she's not who you think she is, and she doesn't want to be that person. She's not there for you, she doesn't care about you beyond hoping that you found the show entertaining. She can't. It's not personal. It's really not personal, in any way. There is no personal connection, and certainly no invitation, when she's out there dancing.

Realize that. Sit back, enjoy the performance, then go home.

You have nothing to offer her that she wants, and truth be told... she has nothing to offer you that you want, aside from what you've already been given... the gift of her performance. That's it.

Fantasy woman isn't fantasy, she's a real, living, breathing human who has worked very hard to get out in front of people and perform. She already has her own life going on. She's not going to drop everything to perpetuate your fantasy. And how dare you make her more uncomfortable after she's overcome doubt, and fear, and nerves about whether she should be performing in front of people? That's just unkind, rude, and insensitive.

And nobody, dancer or not, wants to associate with someone unkind, rude, or insensitive.

 

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About This Article

Joy originally posted this in her blog on tribe.net, and Shira liked it so much that she asked Joy for permission to include it on this web site. According to Joy, this was inspired by a performance the weekend prior to when she wrote it. Here's the background, as explained by Joy:

The troupe I dance with had performed in a very public venue, at a Ren Faire, and as always it was fun. But I was annoyed, frustrated, and a bit angered by the experience one of my dance friends had at this venue. There was a man who didn't just want to 'meet' her and say hi. He didn't just want to chit-chat and maybe get to know her. He clearly said things along the lines of "If this were the old days, my father would go to your father and offer him 20 camels, and we would be together." The dancer was cordial, polite, and responded graciously to his appreciation.

But the guy showed up for our next performance that weekend. And again engaged her in conversation. "If we're meant to be together, we'll be together." He followed our teacher/director and engaged her in conversation. He made it clear that he liked the blonde. He overdid it when telling about how he's a musician, and this, and that. It... was... creepy. So the blog was an initial reaction to watching my dear friend have to deal, politely, with that situation. I drew not only from that, but from multiple experiences of my own.

There are many nice, normal, and not 'creepy-vibe' kind of guys out there who talk to a dancer after a show and are nothing but... well... normal. Then there are the ones who walk up with that glazed expression, who don't seem to care to truly connect with the dancer as a human, but very clearly view her as 'object' or 'target to be acquired', and run their mouths with only that one thought in mind, not viewing the dancer as a real woman they'd like to get to know.

So... that's where these comments came from.

 

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About the Author

Joy describes herself this way: mother, singer, dancer, dreamer. Reserved, loyal, passionate, languid. INTJ. An old soul with a bad attitude. The girl next door with a chainsaw in the shed.

Joy is a 37 year old mother of one, and has been belly dancing since 1998. She is currently a student struggling to understand the greater world of Information Technology. (And she says she's not necessarily doing a great job of it. She claims she's a beginning beginner, and it shows.)

Photo of Joy

 

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