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  1. #31
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Azeeza View Post
    Brea:

    You know, a girl has to pay the bills and I've seen some reputable dancers in my area, who make a living from being a belly dancer, perform in some not so Middle Eastern restaurants. Think barbeque joint (although kababs are grilled over fire!) with bikers present (they are not so Middle Eastern, or are they?)

    Azeeza
    Much of my dancing back-when was done in not-so-middle-eastern places with audiences largely composed of bikers, ranchers, construction and oil field workers. Mostly I had a great time- if there was one drunk riggie who wanted to hassle me, there were ten drunk cowboys who were ready to protect me. Sort of a different experience from Matam Fez in Denver (eh, Kharmine?) but still relevent from both art and bill paying points of view.

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shanazel View Post
    Much of my dancing back-when was done in not-so-middle-eastern places with audiences largely composed of bikers, ranchers, construction and oil field workers. Mostly I had a great time- if there was one drunk riggie who wanted to hassle me, there were ten drunk cowboys who were ready to protect me. Sort of a different experience from Matam Fez in Denver (eh, Kharmine?) but still relevent from both art and bill paying points of view.
    I danced for a while at what used to be a biker bar.... new owners, trying to "upscale" their image etc.... so hired us.... but still quite a few "leftovers" from the old crowd..... well one night, a young "yuppie" type (drunk of course) was hassling us a bit (more annoying if anything... not dangerous in the least, just a bit distracting!).... well one old biker dude just (rather "gently" if you can imagine!) took this lad under the armpits.... & PUT him outside.... telling him he could come back when he learned to treat ladies with respect!!!
    go figure..... but I think like any "fringe" society,.,,, once they (in this case the "bikers") like you (in this case the belly dancers).. they have your back!!!

    so for you BREA.... YOU have to do what YOU feel is comfortable.... in the above senario.... I KNEW this bar...., the employees, etc... & part of the reason they hired ME was cause I would be bringing in some audience....
    (though above creep boy was not one of "mine"!!!!)... however... I DID NOT like the "connotation" of dancing in a "bar".... though... do not think my "reputation" was damaged in the least..... but I am already known in this town.... etc..... it sounds like you are moving to a new place???? this might be a factor too.... 1st impressions & all....
    & you MUST check out one of their "burlesque" shows... before you commit!!!.... it is soooo hard for any of us to give you feed back... especially without knowing the environment/etc personally.... good luck...

    oh & Shazanel.... curious by-standers want to know....what happened @Matam Fez???

  3. #33
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    Matam Fez is a Morroccan restaurant in Denver that Kharmine took me to in July as a wonderful treat. The place was rigged inside like a tent- no bare walls, carpets on the floor, exotic music. We sat on cushions around short tables and the waitress poured lemon water over our hands from a silver ewer before we ate. There were five courses, each more delicious than the last, and best of all, there was a belly dancer. We had a wonderful time. When she tried to get people up to dance, I told Kharmine it was our responsibility as dancers to support other dancers, and hauled her reluctant butt up off the floor, which started the shyer folks in the audience to their feet. The bellydancer leaned toward me and said, "You're a dancer, aren't you?" Well, all I'd done was stand up, and I was going to say, "No," but Kharmine blew my cover. We had so much fun- thanks again, Kharmine!!!

    Very different from dancing at Little Thunder Inn in the middle of nowhere halfway between Reno Junction and Newcastle, WY! Everyone sat at scarred wooden tables drinking beer and wearing cowboy hats and baseball caps with logos like "Garrod's Construction Company" and yelling. "EEEEEE-HAWWWWW!" I had a wonderful time that night, too. One of the ranchers was about three sheets to the wind, and she followed me around the floor, slapping folks with their own hats and saying things like, "Give her a ten, you cheap SOB- don't you see how hard that girl is working?" It was one of my favorite shows and I got a ton of tips.

  4. #34
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    Hi all-

    To de Sage: yes, this is the show that used to be Cirque Rouge. Still, I will watch one of their shows if I can to see what I think.

    Secondly, I suppose it doesn't phase me a great deal to do something that's not considered proper (never has before, anyway) but I don't want it to be sleazy. I can tell you that the worst performance I ever had was in the Marrakesh Restaurant in Portland, OR. Less professional behavior I have never seen in all my life.

    -Brea

  5. #35
    V.I.P. Kharmine's Avatar
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    Oh , that Shanazel -- ya gotta watch her, folks. A little longer and she woulda had the whole restaurant doin' the debke!

    Mataam Fez didn't have enough fer shure Middle Easterners as waitstaff so we had these pretty Hispanic gals doing the fancy tricks with hot mint tea. The belly dancer's name I have yet to hunt down, but she had a very polished performance.

    I do think atmosphere makes a difference -- I don't mean, necessarily, a fancy setting. More like the attitude of the management and the type of clientele. As has been pointed out, you could dance in bar full of bikers or cowboys and be treated with respect, it depends on the people involved.

    The Cairo "casinos" of the early 1900s from which raqs sharqi sprang were what I would call classic cabarets -- nightclubs, really, with dinner and entertainment. It was "adult" entertainment in the old sense of being for sophisticated grown-ups of both sexes who usually dressed to the nines when attending. I've never heard that any performer did any stripping.

    In the United States, this type of place was common for years (up until about the '70s) in prosperous ethnic communities, often run by immigrant Greeks and Armenians. They were called "supper clubs" in many places, and imported dancers from abroad until enough Americans learned to supply the demand.

    These were the kinds of places where whole families would gather to celebrate a bar mitzvah, wedding, baptism, anniversary, etc. Again, these were not strip joints, by any means.

    Belly dancers in these earlier days were so much in demand that burlesque dancers sometimes faked performances in fancy costumes (Morocco calls 'em the "Wonderful Walkers") --but I've haven't read anywhere that the reverse was true, that real belly dancers regularly turned up in burlesque shows.

    My point is: There has long been a dividing line between burlesque and real Oriental-style dancing. I've been reading old magazine articles (some of them in vintage men's magazines!) from this period and it was clearly understood even then that the two should not be confused.

    I've been noticing that "burlesque" today loves to recall the nostalgia of another time, but it's still about sexual titillation, first and last. How much titillation depends on the management.

    But if we're serious about educating the public that belly dancing is not just another version of exotic/erotic dancing, then I think we ought to be reeeeeeealy careful about how much we get involved with this burlesque resurgence. If we're willing to blur the lines, hey, guess what, the public has long been way ahead of us!

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