Solo Dance in the Ottoman Period by Jane C Sugarman


New member
Not to devalue research for a minute, but you don't need it to licence your interest in belly dance. You are interested and that's enough. And anyway, whatever may have happened in the Ottoman empire, we have high profile male belly dancers within the dance scene in the here and now. Historical justification is useful ammunition for dealing with the confused and uninformed who can't just enjoy a good performance for what it is, but IMHO a good dancer or an enthusiastic student doesn't ever need to validate themselves, ever.

With Ahava's recent threads in mind, there are people who say this is a women's performance dance, and a young woman's dance at that. Well maybe. And that is certainly a consideration if you want to perform professionally for the general public. But for the rest of us in our social dance communities it's irrelevant. I'm too old, the next dancer is too fat, you might be too male... that's not the point of the social side. It's about loving the dance, having fun and appreciating each other.

Yes there are the by wimmin for wimmin NO MEN :protest: groups, but I think they are twisting the social dance to fit their agendas. I wish they would leave belly dance out of it.

I do not believe that the UK in general is particularly conservative about male dancers. Some communities will be, others less so, that's the same in plenty of countries. It's accepted that men go to ballroom or Latin or tango classes; belly dance is a bit more problematic for the ignorant, but women get stupid attitudes too, especially if they do not fit the stereotypes. As far as the dance scene goes, for the vast majority of classes/ events/ workshops I have been to, people don't really give a rats behind what gender anyone else is. Anyone making an issue of it would IMHO be making themselves look rude and ignorant.

Tarik Sultan

New member
I have to agree. First of all, I think that too much emphasis is placed on professional dancing and performing. That is one aspect of it, but not the bee all end all. In culture everybody dances. Their gender, sexual orientation, age color or whathave you isn't even a consideration. It's something you do for fun with your mates as you Brits would say and or family on festive occasions. Rven in the international dance community most people do not earn their living from dance. It's a hobby and the majority of performance happens in the context of dance community activities.

I a;so agree with the opinion you need to let go of the past and who performed, who didn't etc. Why? Here's another fact, even for those accepted as performers, by and large.... It sucked to be a dancer! Sure, people liked to watch you, but you got treated like scum and no one saw you as a complete person, but a thing. That's why so few people opted to be dancers, no one wants one to marry into their family and even those who achieve celebrity status raised their children to be educated and go into other professions.

Here's the other thing. You need to take back your power and stop giving it away to fu*ktards who don't deserve the time of day let alone your attention. You are who you are, you are what you are. Do you have a social network of people who care about you? Then you are good to go. You don't owe every Tom, Dick and Harry an explanation about your life. Only those who have earned the right get to know your story or be in your life. If you have a place to take classes, then just keep working at it. Not everyone learns at the same pace and that is fine. Do as much practice as you can at home, but above all, be accepting and patient with yourself. As long as you do that, it will come.


I really want to rep you for that one Tarik, but the rep system won't let me. You're too full of awesome!

I agree wholeheartedly with everything you've said!


Well-known member
Khanjar, since you feel drawn to belly dance, that is sufficient reason to learn it and do it. You don't need to find historical precedents to justify your desire to dance. However, I can understand the desire to look for historical precedents, and if you enjoy the research, then of course it's fine to do it.

This is off topic a little, but here is an article about evidence that ancient Egypt recognized a third gender:

Tarik Sultan

New member
So I read the last article posted and a bunch of the references and here's what I conclude. WE'RE MAKING THIS SH*T UP AS WE GO ALONG! Here's what I know fgor certain. We are alive and this wonderful world we live in is full of all kinds of diversity. In fact, diversity seems to be the rule rather than the exception. Nature, or whatever you want to call it, has created this world in a web of interconnected comlexity designed to maintain and sustain its perpetuation. It makes no mistakes. The turmoil comes from the fact that we haven't caught up to the reality of nature and can't wrap our heads around that which is.

We live on this great dust ball. Now don't get me wrong, it's a miraculous dust ball, but it's still a dust ball and being such, there's only so much dust to go around. We can't all have kids! We have been given this thing call a free will. We can decide to reproduce or not. Sometimes, we don't get a choice. We come here in bodies that are not created to reproduce. That is no mistake or accident. The accident is people who insist that there is a one size fits all reality and anyone who can't get with the program is a problem.

I read all this crap about eunichs, (forgive the mispelling, I'm too tired to give a ....). Men who don't reproduce were considered eunichs. Well here are some famous ones, Jesus Christ, Saint Paul, the Pope, (take your pick). Men who engaged in a passive sexual role with another man. Well what do you call a man who ingages in the passive role with a man, while simultaniously taking the active role with a woman? Yes, I Google searched bisexual porn and found some pretty strange stuff:shok: What about men who get sex changes, but are still sexually attracted to women? Damn it, there go my lesbian trapped in a man's body jokes out the window! I'm so PISSED!:mad:

After taking a good hard look at this world, I have to conclude that whoever, or whatever made it delights in diversity and variations. Khanjar my friend, you are one of those variations and that which created this delighted in creating YOU! So what if you're not exactly like everybody else? Who the hell says you have to be? The fault is not with you, the fault is with those of us who can't catch up to understanding someone like you. And I know how frustrating it can be trying to explain the internet to cavemen. It ain't your fault. Be who you are. Do not limit yourself to anyone or any cultures lame assed attempts to wrap their heads around what nature made, because they insist on trying to make it bend to suit their wills. THEY WERE ALL MAKING THE SH*T UP AS THEY WENT ALONG! Every freaking one of them!


New member
For some reason my browser does not allow to like all posts here!!

This is an excellent discussion!

First, no person needs any type of licence, official or cultural or political to perform this dance!!

THen, Khanjar, go for it!

Probably you have read Stavros Stavrou Karayanni's books and academic articles about bellydance. He is an expert in this art's history, he is also a dancer, he has investigated the role of men in this art and the role of capitalism and modernity in suppressing men's and any type of queer people expression through dance. He is a great person too and he is self defined as a queer himself.
If not, tell me so that i can write some reading suggestions to you. But you can find his university page (he teaches in Cyprus) and all his innovative literature.

As a feminist, and i think i am very radical, militant and angry, i consider it completely wrong to keep men far from what we women find so much joy in. I would really admire any man who would tresspass the female-male activities fake divide and bellydance or do things that are ascribed to women only by patriarchy. Just like i think i am entitled to do anything i want, without a ban "this is men's activity", i think that men are also entitled to bellydance on their own sake and for their own purposes.

Concerning kocheks' prfroemance and the yanitsaris, well, we do not have much info. What is sure is that we need to distinguish between public performance of women and men f.ex. in a collective feast, or festival and the professional dancers.

Professional dancers in the mediterranean is a "hurt" story as we say in Greece. Dance is necessary in all feasts, but pro dancers are disdained. However, even before the Ottoman, in the Byzantine times, women were ;pro dancers and we have plenty sources for this. However, they were distinguished (just like men performers) into honourable and non-honourable (entimoi & anentimoi). The first class consisted of dancers performing in the palace and in aristocrats' houses. The second class were performing in popular feasts etc. Then, i would understand that for the second class it would be also very diffiucult for a woman who did not belong to the very poor strata of society to join the dancer's sector.

THen, it goes normal for me that the Ottoman empire was not so positive for women pro performers in popular places, although in Karayanni's work it seems that persecution and disdain for this art came in late ottoman empire, while capitalism and modernity already were adopted by the ottoman authorities.