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Thread: Devon classes ?

  1. #1
    V.I.P. khanjar's Avatar
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    Default Devon classes ?

    Sadly it would appear, I am now without instruction, there is no class for me that I know of in my locale, so does anyone know of any classes in the Devon, particularly the Plymouth area of the UK that operate and accept male dancers.

    As if i can't find a class, that's it i will have to quit completely and undoubtedly leave here, as here will be just a cruel tease.

    ( I am more than expecting the brush weeds to blow on by)
    Last edited by khanjar; 02-09-2012 at 08:05 PM.

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    why not try online classes?

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    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    Why would you have to quit just because you can't find a class? Many of us supplement in-class learning with workshops, independent study, occasional private classes with teachers in the nearest major city, cross-training, etc, or any combination of the the above. Many of us have had to deal with having classes on hiatus for health issues, financial issues, or for lack of availability, or with not having classes available that are our level or that are high enough quality. But we love belly dance, so we keep going and do the best we can, making do with what we have.

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    V.I.P. khanjar's Avatar
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    I love belly dance, it is why I seek to get back into into it following an enforced sojourn due to purely financial reasons which then became a very serious health reason, but hey, I am a male and from experience males are not particularly welcome in BD classes in the UK. Does anyone know the experience of writing letters and emails to class instructors never to hear anything in reply, or with the honest ones, them actually saying their class being the majority it being a business and all defers to the majority decision and if that majority does not want males, then that is the way it has to be.

    But workshops I have applied to them and been turned down, even a festival I had to more or less prove my honest interest and even then I was grilled on the door despite having a ticket, any females experience this ?

    To be honest, I am at my wit's end with it all, aspie is bad enough in this society, but try and transcend gender barriers and what you legal status is will come down to stop you dead in your tracks with many things.

    But as to leaving here, if denied what I love, it will have to be the only way, for looking and not being allowed to participate is a cruel tease, doesn't anyone agree ?

    But I live in the UK, a place where we believe we are free, but in reality, well the reality is what it is.

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    Is there a class at a local college or further education institute you could take? I know some teachers teaching privately or in studios don't take male students but I think colleges have equal opportunity obligations to meet and so are less likely to be able to turn you down.

    The teaching standard may vary but that would be my suggestion. The only male dancer I know personally started learning at a London college for that reason. I don't know what there is of that nature in Devon but that would be where I'd suggest.

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    V.I.P. khanjar's Avatar
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    Sadly I don't think that applies as rooms rented out come under the auspices of those renting the rooms, private individuals and what they want. On the other hand if a college itself runs an event, then they are bound by the rules of the college, which you understand might differ greatly from what many ofus understand is the law of the land.

    The last I checked, equal opportunities for all was a campaign not a law, anti discrimination laws attempt to ( unsuccesfully because business is king) eradicate discrimination in the work place, leisure activities are not included, although I don't understand the situation as regards a teacher who runs a class of leisure seekers, gets paid and there pays tax.

    The law is very unclear.

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    V.I.P. khanjar's Avatar
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    But regards Devon, pretty place with mild weather, but backward in many respects, as it is if things don't pan out here this year, am heading to Colchester in Essex where I know there is a Fat Chance class that happily accepts males, they have a few already.

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    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    That's so very strange. Is the UK really that different from the US that it's so common for people to turn down students based on their gender? I've never heard of that happening around here. I don't doubt that it does happen, but I don't think it's very common.

    I mean, it's not very common for males to want to belly dance in the first place, but I know a few who do and I do not *personally* know any teacher who would turn down a student for being male, especially not for something like a workshop!

    So I'm sorry to hear your experience has been so negative, but I really don't think you should give up. Eventually you will probably find a teacher who isn't so narrow-minded, and meanwhile you can keep practicing on your own.

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    V.I.P. khanjar's Avatar
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    Yep, I know so, as even Zorba has said he believes there is a problem in the UK regards teachers plain unwillingness to accept male dancers, and from my experiences of trying to get a class here prior to the one I have just lost I would definitely agree.

    Anyone know what is like to pursue a dance teacher with every form of communication there is to every port of access never to receive a reply, or when you do finally get to corner a dance teacher they say no and that because they have to defer to their majority student wishes.

    I have long since given up asking these so called teachers had they actually polled their class on the potential situation or was it in fact an assumption on their part and were they using their class to hide their own discomfort at teaching a would be male dancer, for I have heard it, classes have surprised teachers, as not every female in the belly dance world is narrow minded as some, a some who give the rest a bad name, just like it is a some, perhaps even an extreme minority of males that have soured the pitch for males in the UK, if indeed there ever was, as always you will notice it is something that is heard of but rarely experienced, Has anyone here ever experienced a male dancer who turned out to be bad or is it in reality just a dangerous and damaging myth?

    But a question as towards teachers, well it was my impression the idea of a teacher is to teach, they are educators who wish to pass the knowledge on and most of them are very good at it, they teach with a passion, but was it ever the place of a teacher to judge a person's worth based on nothing more than the fact that through no fault of their own, they were born a different gender ? Now sure if someone may be severely physically or mentally disabled such a desire could be questioned, but an able bodied person, really.

    But for a male to find a class in the UK, it can be an absolutely awful task, where if not before, you soon learn just how other minorities that are discriminated against in society feel, for you are made out to be well as far as belly dance is concerned in the UK not wanted and worthless, a situation where you are penalised because of your gender and you do then wonder just how effective laws on equal opportunities are, if belly dance teachers can openly restrict their class to one gender only, because opportunities which were traditionally male only have now been at least discouraged but more commonly; outlawed.

    So, I am here again, where I was years ago, yes, I love this dance and I want to continue, I even had a new plan and was in the process of making the costume for it but can I seriously go through all the negativity of trying to find a class again, at the moment I am torn.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Duvet's Avatar
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    I'm really sad to hear your experience of teachers in Devon has been so negative. Have they all refused you access to classes solely on the gender issue?

    There is gender discrimination in the UK with some belly dancers (teachers and students), but it has got better in the few years that I have been dancing, especially with more male teachers appearing in the UK (the argument being - you're happy to have him as a teacher, but you'd refuse him as a student!?). So I hope experiences prove better for you in time.

    I too have been refused access to workshops, festivals and classes. I only once allowed a teacher to refuse me access without a proper explanation, and have regretted it ever since. I also have had bad experiences with some students’ opinions and reactions to me (some intentionally harmful, some a consequence of unconscious sexism). It got me really down at the early stage, and still can, and like you I nearly gave up. But fortunately I had already been dancing a couple of years, knew some wonderful people, and realised that the problem wasn't with me, nor with them, but with their experience.

    Lots of students and teachers (still) have never encountered a man in the class, and seem to think a man will only want to letch, that he will act unpredictably, that he will scare the present students off, that it needs some special teacher training in how to teach men, or they have just never thought of the possibility of a man coming to class. Saying ‘no’ is the easy answer and the quickest response they can give without running any risks. JUSTIFYING why they say no, often (but not always), reveals an underlying lack of teaching confidence or a lack of experience which you can always offer to rectify.

    There are also some teachers who were trained by other teachers who advised against men attending classes; some teachers have had bad experiences with men in classes; some teachers view their class as a woman's refuge and support group; some teachers think men shouldn’t bellydance; some just don't want men on principal. But these types of teacher are far fewer then the noise they make would lead you to believe.

    Every teacher will be different, with their own reasons for not wanting a man in the class.

    I do not know how you react to the rejections, but while I feel angry and frustrated, I also respond with an interest in the teacher’s perspective and the reasons why they don’t want me to attend. (You can’t fight against what you don’t know). By emphasising that whatever the outcome, it is still their class/event and so their decision which I respect, they usually take the time to consider my arguments. If they advertise themselves as ‘fun for everyone’ or ‘anyone can attend’, challenge them on their non-gender specific advertising, and point out how misleading it is, and how embarrassing it is to be rejected. I have a real bugbear about teachers misrepresenting themselves.

    I also don’t know how you react to others people’s responses to you being a belly dancer. Guffaws of laughter, odd looks, accusations of lying, questions about your gender/sexuality, innuendos and dirty jokes (often from the women), lots of silly questions - it used to annoy me and make me feel ‘why can’t they just accept a male bellydancer like they accept a female plumber?!!’ But in the end I now see it as again due to their experience. The questions I used to get annoyed were usually genuine curiosity and the responses are attempts to fit me into their stereotypical (and narrow) view of a bellydancer.

    I do not know your full situation, and do not know you or your life, only what you have posted so far, and telling you all this doesn’t mean that I think it’ll make you feel any better about it. It is only based on my thoughts and feelings in my own situation at this moment in time. You might be in the unfortunate situation that all the teachers around you are unwilling to take you on. Your financial situation might mean you can’t attend workshops /weekend events (but if you’re not paying for classes, then that money could go towards those). Moving may be your only option (Plymouth is a bit out in the wilds), but be aware that there are lots of teachers in the UK who are not consciously discriminatory, and are actually willing to listen to your experiences and take them on board.

    So whatever happens, don't give up. Learn from it all, and if people don't want you, its their loss!
    Last edited by Duvet; 02-10-2012 at 11:17 PM.

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