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  1. #1
    Senior Member Duvet's Avatar
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    Default French and British men bellydancing

    I wasn't sure whether these deserved notice, but what the hell - its European men bellydancing, albeit in fleeting glances. I wouldn't think they're meant to be taken too seriously, but they also aren't the bloke-in-drag-shaking-his-belly attempts either. I happened upon them whilst looking for a local railway accident from 1946, and got distracted. They're from Pathe News and I can't upload the actual clips, just the links.

    First is a 1932 'rag' day, at the Parisian Central Engineering College. A student dressed as a bellydancer performs some amateurish, but quite well isolated, hip gyrations, followed by a dancing camel, which obscures another student dancing with a tambourine.

    "RAG..." A LA FRANCAISE! - British Pathé

    Second is the November 1936 visit by King Edward VIII to the fleet at Portland. On board the HMS Courageous he watches a concert put on by the sailors, including (you've guessed it!) a man bellydancing. Unfortunately we only get a 5 second clip of some undulating arms, but Edward VIII watching a male bellydancer with 'sex appeal' (the tongue-in-cheek words of the commentator) was not something I thought I'd ever come across! (Although Mrs.Simpson was said to have danced the danse du ventre "and other un-English performances of unsavory nature" at private parties earlier that year; The People's King: The True Story of the Abdication - Susan Williams - Google Books)

    THE KING WITH THE FLEET - British Pathé

    Fun, but sad when you think how many of those sailors present were to lose their lives soon after.
    HMS Courageous was sunk with 519 of her crew in September 1939.
    Last edited by Duvet; 04-01-2013 at 07:34 PM.

  2. #2
    V.I.P. khanjar's Avatar
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    Yes they are good, well done Duvet and yes that first one with the hips, pretty impressive.

    An image I found recently ;

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Described as;

    Egypt pre 1907

    Egypte – Haywal. (Danseur excentrique habillé en danseuse)
    (An eccentric male dancer dressed as a female dancer)

    Interesting on the costumery.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Mosaic's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing Duvet, seems bellydancing/dancers were quite popular one way or another back then

    Interesting photo Khanjar I wonder if he was a descendant of the Turkish Kochek dancers, I believe they were employed as dancers during the Ottoman reign in Egypt for a time, so it seems to me that they possibly continued to reside in Egypt & the dances & costuming found their way into the 19th century.
    Kochek | Belly Dancer's Mind - Dance and Transformation
    ~Mosaic
    Dance is like glitter, it not only colours your life, it makes you sparkle, you find it everywhere and in everything and it's near impossible to get rid of. (unknown)


  4. #4
    Senior Member Duvet's Avatar
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    Interesting find. Got the costume and the instruments, and the same pose you often see in other pictures of Egyptian dancers. You seem to be hunting down some good sources.
    I think I can read khawal in the Arabic second line. Not sure about the top line though - his name?

    There were male dancers at the Chicago Fair of 1893. One, a Syrian called Mohammed, was noted as being the best dancer on the Midway, and was incomparable for his agility, flexibility and muscle control. There is a small picture of him in Donna Carlton's 'Looking For Little Egypt'. Can't find it on line. I also remember reading somewhere that there were male "muscle dancers" too (muscle dancing being another term used to describe danse du ventre), but I can't remember if that was the Chicago Fair of 1893, or the Paris one of 1889.
    Last edited by Duvet; 04-01-2013 at 11:31 PM.

  5. #5
    V.I.P. khanjar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duvet View Post
    Interesting find. Got the costume and the instruments, and the same pose you often see in other pictures of Egyptian dancers. You seem to be hunting down some good sources.
    I think I can read khawal in the Arabic second line. Not sure about the top line though - his name?

    There were male dancers at the Chicago Fair of 1893. One, a Syrian called Mohammed, was noted as being the best dancer on the Midway, and was incomparable for his agility, flexibility and muscle control. There is a small picture of him in Donna Carlton's 'Looking For Little Egypt'. Can't find it on line. I also remember reading somewhere that there were male "muscle dancers" too (muscle dancing being another term used to describe danse du ventre), but I can't remember if that was the Chicago Fair of 1893, or the Paris one of 1889.
    Haywal I believe is the verbal pronunciation of Khawal, a khawal according to the urban dictionary of all places is a;


    (n.) In old Arabic terminology it meant a male who was taught and performed Bellydancing routines. In modern Egyptian slang it's an attack on a male's sexuality. Usually used and taken lightheartedly between close friends.

    (pl.) Khawalat.

    (v.) Khawlana.


    Urban Dictionary: khawal

    And hence being an old Arabic term it perhaps indicates male belly dancers are a feature of the past in Arabian culture not just Turkish through the Kochek ?

    Although I do understand performers travelled to large conurbations in antiquity as they do so now and it is likely given the Ottoman Empire included Egypt the Kochek could well have been there and in time blended into Egyptian society to become Egyptian in time.

    But if male belly dancers were called Khawalat what would female dancers be called ?

    In Turkey, I think female dancers were called Cengi, where I believe there were reports of Cengi murdering Kocheks out of jealousy for their patron's attentions.

    But Yes Duvet the image I linked I did also notice the similarity in presentation of similar period female dancers where one could suspect no difference because there was no difference, a dancer was a dancer and that was that ?

  6. #6
    V.I.P. khanjar's Avatar
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    Umm, I found another male belly dancer from antiquity image through the use of interesting search terms, I'll not go into those, but interesting what comes up and validating for what modern males seek to do, it has a history so what we seek to do is validated:



    It looks quite Egyptian to me but I could be wrong.

    The description with this one is ;


    Ladyboy

    Jean-Pascal Sebah, 'Almee: Dancing Girl', (ca 1880)

    Arabic Erotica - A series of translations and editions of medieval Arabic erotic literature by Daniel Newman

    About Daniel Newman » Arabic Erotica

    I must say though those kecks are fab.
    Last edited by khanjar; 04-06-2013 at 12:05 AM. Reason: too much wine.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Duvet's Avatar
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    Due to reading James Joyce's image of belly dancing in 'Ulysses', I wondered where he might have seen it. He probably did, but not found out for sure. Yet it led to a surprise connection to an English man belly dancing.

    A Preface to James Joyce - Sydney Bolt (1981); Talking about James Joyce's life in Zurich in 1915 -
    "In Zurich he had a wide circle of acquaintance, but his favourite companion - probably the closest friend he ever had - was Frank Budgen, an English ex-seaman who had become a painter and moved from Paris to Zurich at the outbreak of war. In him Joyce found a convivial fellow-drinker - who, for example, could perform a belly dance as an accompaniment to the long-legged spider dance with which Joyce, on festive occasions, entertained his inner circle."

    Frank Budgen and James Joyce dueting? Wish we had that on camera!
    Last edited by Duvet; 12-01-2014 at 05:41 PM.

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