Personally, I avoided participating here for many years because I was active on Bhuz. Keeping up with the forum there provided more than enough online conversation for me, even though there were sometimes conversations going on here that were substantively different and I would have liked to join in.
The larger reason I didn't join this forum earlier was that I experienced an enormous dose of "anti-sisterhood of belly dance" over at Bhuz, and I offered not participating here as a gesture of goodwill to some of the nastier bullies who were also prominent members on this site. I thought restricting myself to one forum gave them ample space to avoid me, especially since I'm not aware that your forum has its own offshoot sites where users can gather to complain about how much they hate other members or post vicious revenge fantasies like Bhuz had.
Since the MED community has contracted and most of the dancers who found me too challenging to engage with civilly on Bhuz have either moved on to other hobbies or migrated to Facebook to discuss dance there (I don't use Fb), I thought it would be okay to participate here occasionally.
As a general answer to your question, when the dance forums are going at full steam, they can be quite intimidating. Everyone seems to know so much, dance so much better, and sometimes be so quick to say, "Somebody already asked that. Didn't you search the archive?" The initial deluge of welcomes in the introduce-yourself thread can quickly turn into the feeling that you are running with, if not getting trampled by, the big dogs, even when members are sincerely just trying to be helpful to less experienced dancers. More than once, a new Bhuzzer asked an innocent question that blew up into a long, wild debate.
MED attracts a lot of new dancers for all sorts of misguided and wrong reasons (if you have a deeply damaged self image, you are still going to have self-esteem issues after you learn to shimmy), and weird misconceptions (this is not going to save your marriage by teaching you to be a powerhouse sexual contortionist in bed), and orientalist stereotypes (playing cheesy harem girl generally offends Middle Easterners).
It is a culture shock to dive into MED and realize there is a lot of information and physical technique to master to be good at BD. Some dancers just want to learn on the low-stakes sly. Some want to pretend all of this knowledge isn't necessary and doesn't exist. Some who have been working professionally for years don't want to be Wizard-of-Ozzed by exposing their lack of expertise in a forum. Lurking is safer.
So that's a handful of answers to your question...
How interesting. We've had occasional conflicts, but mostly people have been and are pretty nice here. Those who weren't and aren't have long since flounced away. Others were drawn away by the siren song of the F word site perpetuated by Mr. Z. I'm glad you decided to de-lurk, Tourbeau, and hope it is the beginning of a trend.
I wasn't sad when they flounced away to bhuz. I know what she means. The "enormous dose of "anti-sisterhood of belly dance" over at Bhuz" was why I stopped going there after one more blow up then I was willing to subject myself to.
I also remember just how intimidating it is when you are new to BD. Let me assure anyone lurking that has that concern that this is the place that helped me get over that. Everyone was so nice about explaining anything I didn't know. It's why I'm still here. Give the forum a try. :yay:
I'm glad Tourbeau is here too, I remember her well from Bhuz. Yea, it could get a bit "hot" over there, especially towards the end when the PCBS became rampant. Between BD being in a nadir, and "that F-word site" (I'm *TOTALLY* stealing that!), its been hard. Belly Dancers seem to be joined at the hip with that site, which isn't true of ANY of my other interests - and I'd guess the smartphone crowd has something to do with it too. How smartphone friendly is this site? I wouldn't be caught dead with one, but many people's lives revolve around one - if this site isn't smartphone friendly, that could be a factor as well.
I own one of the cheapest smartphones on the market and a Kindle Fire. I don't care for the mobile mode as it shows up on them. For instance, it seems baffled by the link http://bellydanceforums.net/activity.php (which shows the activity stream in desktop mode), so I usually get out of mobile mode before I do anything else.
I started a new thread so we have something else to discuss over here: