Do large tattoos limit performance opportunities?

Amulya

Moderator
I think if you use one of those costumes posted here before, the ones that cover the chest area, you can afford to do a bigger cut out on a skirt for example, because with a non-covered cleavage that might be too much, but in this case it's a balance.

You're lucky with where you live, I have noticed that tattoos are much more common in America (and where I live, Australia) than in Europe. I come from Holland and there tattoos are such a no no, even in daily life.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
You're lucky with where you live, I have noticed that tattoos are much more common in America...
Even here, acceptability varies widely. As I noted before; California in general has an advantage, but the coast particularly. The Northern part of the state, and the inland areas less so - but acceptability is still more than many other areas of the country. The east coast is comparatively straight laced, but larger cities are far more cosmopolitan than the small towns. I think I mentioned Gia of New Jersey before, who has quite a few tatts and opened for BDSS recently.

As a skirt wearing man, I keep track of all this! :shok:

Still, tattoos, piercings, etc. are becoming more "accepted" as employers are beginning to find out that if they want to have a workforce at all, they must stop trying to control their employees' lives. I'm even seeing the occasional bank teller now with "discreet" facial piercings. Same with health care workers now. I *always* make sure to compliment both the person, and their employer, when I note something like this.
 
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double_frick

New member
Yes - it will limit which audiences will accept you. I know there are areas where tattoos are very popular - obviously it probably won't affect you there. But if in the same locale you want to dance for an Arabic audience - or a more classy non-Arabic one, yes you will limit your work opportunies as a dancer. A few years back in New Zealand someone was fired from a checkout job for refusing to cover their tattoos. You are trying to deliver a fantasy - hard to do looking like a sailor, jailbird or tramp. wow....seriously?? as far as my sensibilities go, that is far past blunt and well into rude-territoryAnd that same fanatasy requires flesh - I love dresses but realize for many gigs I have to wear a bra and belt.

Make the most of it - connect into the alternative market. There is probably plenty of work there - but you may need to offer Fusion rather than straight raqs sharqi.
but thank you for your opinion.
i definitely agree with your overall point.
 

double_frick

New member
Even here, acceptability varies widely. As I noted before; California in general has an advantage, but the coast particularly. The Northern part of the state, and the inland areas less so - but acceptability is still more than many other areas of the country. The east coast is comparatively straight laced, but larger cities are far more cosmopolitan than the small towns. I think I mentioned Gia of New Jersey before, who has quite a few tatts and opened for BDSS recently.

As a skirt wearing man, I keep track of all this! :shok:

Still, tattoos, piercings, etc. are becoming more "accepted" as employers are beginning to find out that if they want to have a workforce at all, they must stop trying to control their employees' lives. I'm even seeing the occasional bank teller now with "discreet" facial piercings. Same with health care workers now. I *always* make sure to compliment both the person, and their employer, when I note something like this.
i totally agree with you that it depends where you live and luckily i live in california, and sacramento. i could live in a city that appreciates tattoos a little more....but again, that will never help me be totally (or maybe at all) accepted in certin ME-crowds, unfortunately. :( c'est la vie.

so i won't let it stop me and i will still explore the Egyptian style and fill out this repetoire and eventually i will explore Tribal as well and see which one fits better. i have gone to a class at the Hot Pot studio with one of the girls from Unmata and it just wasn't really for me. i'm more into the ME music and all that....so hip hop dancing with some rib circles won't satisfy my needs. lol
 

Kashmir

New member
but thank you for your opinion.
i definitely agree with your overall point.
You asked if large tattoos would limit your employment. That is exactly how many people see them. Those tattoos across the lower back, afterall, are known as "tramp stamps".
 

Indigo Shimmer

New member
I was told at my work that tattoos were allowed as long as they weren't visible and could be easily covered up. They don't want them to be obvious. I have two small ones on each shoulder. The only time I have to worry is when I wear a tank top, ( which is not part of the daily work attire anyway! )

Around here tattoos are widely accepted by the forty-something and younger crowd. Probably because the Harley Davidson factory is right up the road and employs a lot of people! As far as the ME community around here, I have no idea what they would think of my pictish horse and my Celtic snake! But its made me think.

I hope this is not TOO OT but what would be the reception of a dancer with henna designs all over them???

BTW I came home from "Art of the Belly" with a henna design on the inside of my lower arm and the manager nearly had a fit! I had to explain to him what henna was. He thought it was made from marihauna! (sp?) We're getting henna done before our first recital in June and I had to get permission from him! UGH!

Indigo S.
 

Yame

New member
double_frick, I think it's awesome that you are drawn to Egyptian style and want to perform it. A lot of people who are into alternative styles and tattoos end up going into fusion because they feel excluded from Oriental styles (and after this thread, I can certainly understand why), or because fusion speaks more to them.

But YOU are drawn to something that people wouldn't expect you to be, based on your tattoo. You are shattering stereotypes and expectations. Don't let anyone discourage you from doing the style you love and dancing to what speaks to your soul. Just because you are tattooed doesn't mean you HAVE to go into fusion. I wish more people realized this. I, for one, am a metalhead and I'm really into Egyptian style. It disappoints me to see other fellow metalheads/belly dancers dance only to metal and not explore the roots of this dance and the music that is meant to go with it. People don't want to leave their little bubble, but obviously YOU do.

Take the obstacles as a challenge and keep doing what you love. There are many great suggestions about covering the tattoo for certain audiences and going bare for more accepting audiences (And even if you end up finding an alternative niche, it doesn't mean you HAVE to do fusion, either. You can go and show them a tattooed girl can dance Egyptian style, too). Your tattoo is a part of you but it doesn't have to define who you are.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
but again, that will never help me be totally (or maybe at all) accepted in certain ME-crowds...
Well, my attitude is "To 'ell with ME crowds". A huge proportion of them don't even like that I exist. Too bad, their loss. I certainly do not buy into their simultaneously misogynistic and misandric worldview. The vast majority of my audiences are Americans anyway. They may be shocked at first, but they virtually all like me. I am content.
 
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Yame

New member
Well, my attitude is "To 'ell with ME crowds". A huge proportion of them don't even like that I exist. Too bad, their loss. The vast majority of my audiences are Americans anyway. They may be shocked at first, but they virtually all like me. I am content.
I couldn't disagree more. Middle Eastern crowds are my favorite to dance for, because it's THEIR dance, they know what they are seeing, there is no explanation necessary. They are so kind, generous, and so much fun as audience members. They are also often pretty good at discerning good dancing from bad dancing, so it's very rewarding to dance for them and get a good response.

I love dancing socially with them, not as a performer but as a guest at restaurants and clubs they attend in large numbers. That is actually my absolute favorite thing to do.

I'm sorry you've had a bad experience with them but it's more your loss than theirs. If you'd rather dance for Americans that's perfectly fine, but I wouldn't be so quick to diss Middle Easterners. We owe it to them and their culture to be more respectful than that.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
You know, what I think I'm trying to say here is that there will ALWAYS be someone who doesn't like you, your performance, your costume, your music - whatever.

Do what you want and follow your bliss. There will be PLENTY of people who will enjoy your performances, love your dance, and love the joy you bring them. I wouldn't worry about the haters, or try to change myself for their benefit. I think you'll find there are fewer of them than you may think - esp. here in California.

I've had ME people walk out on my performances because I'm male. I've also had others tell me that they liked my performance - and it was obvious that they did from how they behaved. I was once "thrown under the bus" by an (ex-)instructor for the sake of the local ME crowd that she was trying to forge an "in" with. Whatever. Follow your bliss - you can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
I'm sorry you've had a bad experience with them but it's more your loss than theirs. If you'd rather dance for Americans that's perfectly fine, but I wouldn't be so quick to diss Middle Easterners. We owe it to them and their culture to be more respectful than that.
Oh, I knew I was opening a can of worms with that post!

The ME folks that like me - great. The ones who cannot tolerate me because of their 7th century, backwards culture? To Hell with them. I can't change them anyway, why should I try?

Yes, I have had some very positive interactions with the ME crowd. But their culture is an anti-thesis of everything I believe in - their beautiful dance notwithstanding - and I'm not going to kowtow to, or concern myself with, their hangups.

Life's too short.

I *have*, on occasion, "converted" some Middle Easterners from haters to likers - once they saw my passion for their dance. Great - glad to do it. Its mostly older MEN that don't like me - the younger folks (probably second generation and more Americanized) do tend to like me just fine. Although the worse experience I've ever had was with a couple of young ME women - but then again, just about every dancer that particular nite had a problem with this particular pair. They were "fresh off the boat" and just didn't "get it".
 

mahsati_janan

New member
I've not had any trouble with dancing for Middle Eastern clients since getting my tattoos, but that may not be the case for everyone. I am careful to make sure that my promotional pictures clearly show that I have a tattoo. I also bring it up specifically when being booked for an event with Middle Eastern clients just in case. My pre to post tattoo change in work was minimal, but I had already accepted that I might lose some gigs before I chose to go through with the ink.

I am in an area with a smaller ethnic community now, but am still booked somewhat regularly (4-5 times a year usually) to perform at Egyptian and Persian weddings 1-4 hours away from me and dance monthly or more often for other Middle Eastern parties and events (depending on the season/economy).

My best advice is to accept that it has the potential to limit your performance opportunities, but don't assume that it will eliminate them or always limit them significantly. There are a lot of variables that go into hiring a dancer. Some clients will weigh the tattoo more heavily while others may focus more on dance style, hair color, height, size, or something else entirely. If you are happy with your tattoo, just enjoy it and your dancing. You can't make people be ok with it, but many people may surprise you. :)
 
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Kashmir

New member
By the uneducated masses, for sure.

I have a "Tramp Stamp" myself. I care... (not!) :lol:
If you can arrange your life so you only have to mix with people with a similar sensibilities you are very lucky. I personally know four people whose tattoos have had a significant negative effect on their lives. If it is blatant (such as the checkout person - who I did not know) you may have some legal redress if you can present day to day in the required dress code - but I suspect too often it is a smile to your face and your job application ripped up when you close the door. To the extent that at one point the state would pay to have visible tattoos removed from at risk people so they would have a chance for getting employment and accommodation.
 

Birdlight

New member
I think that the only way to change perceptions such as those described by Kashmir, is by challenging them. If you can show that a dancer with tattoo's can dance elegantly, and be a lady and a beautiful dancer, then you will be benefitting those to come after you, as well as opening your audience's minds.

Yes, you may find opportunities limited or have to cover up for some gigs, but at the ones where people may see an unexpected sight- an Egyptian style dancer with tattoos?! what, not Fusion?! *gasp*?! then you will help to widen their horizons.

I have a fair few piercings, (Although less now than I did) and I used to always have funny coloured hair,sometimes in a mohawk (I used to look so much more interesting than I do now, ha!) and yet I have worked in a managerial position for the last 10 years, and have worked in a variety of public facing roles.

I always felt glad that people could then see that these things in no way inhibited my ability to be professional. I hoped that the more public perception about people with an alternative appearance was challenged, the more people would learn to value ability over appearance.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
If you can arrange your life so you only have to mix with people with a similar sensibilities you are very lucky. I personally know four people whose tattoos have had a significant negative effect on their lives. If it is blatant (such as the checkout person - who I did not know) you may have some legal redress if you can present day to day in the required dress code - but I suspect too often it is a smile to your face and your job application ripped up when you close the door. To the extent that at one point the state would pay to have visible tattoos removed from at risk people so they would have a chance for getting employment and accommodation.
Ah, but no-one can see my "tramp stamp" at work - its covered up by my skirt! :D

But you are correct - I am very lucky to be able to work for an employer that not only accepts diversity, but encourages it.

Employers are slowly finding out that if they want access to the talent pool, they need to stop trying to control their employees' lives. I'm gradually seeing more tatts, piercings, and "interesting" clothing in various workplaces where it was never seen before. Even some banks are finding out that 19th century "dress codes" and other nonsense results in passing up a majority of qualified applicants!
 

Habiba

New member
Well, my attitude is "To 'ell with ME crowds". A huge proportion of them don't even like that I exist. Too bad, their loss. I certainly do not buy into their simultaneously misogynistic and misandric worldview. The vast majority of my audiences are Americans anyway. They may be shocked at first, but they virtually all like me. I am content.
How can you separate the dance from the culture and people? Isn't performing their dance a celebration of their culture and identity? If it wasn't for the Middle East and its people, we would not be doing what we love.
 

Amulya

Moderator
You know what I find interesting? How some ME people dislike tattoes, but many have them: tribal tattoos! Somehow I don't understand how that works.
 

Yame

New member
You know what I find interesting? How some ME people dislike tattoes, but many have them: tribal tattoos! Somehow I don't understand how that works.
Like all people in the whole world, Middle Eastern people aren't a monolith. They don't all hold the same opinions on every subject. They are individuals, and in some topics they might agree with the general consensus views of their society, but in others they might disagree. You don't expect ALL Americans to like apple pie, and football, do you? So why expect ALL Middle Eastern people to dislike tattoos, just because generally speaking, Middle Eastern audiences at belly dance events dislike large tattoos?

I know as belly dancers we make a LOT of generalizations about "Middle Easterners." That doesn't mean any of the things we say apply to ALL people who are Middle Eastern. There are so many countries, languages, religions, and cultures in the Middle East, it's even harder to make generalizations about them than it is to make generalizations about "Americans" or "Europeans."

BUT we still do it, because we find patterns of taste and behavior amongst our Middle Eastern audiences. We do it because it helps fellow dancers know what to expect when dancing for them. In order to help narrow it down a bit, we might talk specifically about "Turks," or "Arabs," or "Persians" or even more specifically we might say "Iranian families" versus "young Iraqis" versus "Lebanese men" or whatever. That'll make the generalizations a little more accurate but still one can't possibly expect every single person that falls within those categories to behave or think the same way!

With regard to tribal tattoos, are you talking about tattoos that people of certain tribes have? Like the Berbers in North Africa? If so, why would you expect your average Middle Eastern audience member at a belly dance show to be a part of such a tribe, or appreciate a distant tribe's culture? Would you expect the average American person to like Cherokee art and clothing?
 
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