Going Bamboo

Going bamboo in lower Manhattan

Archive for June, 2008


Have you ever watched belly dancing? Professionals, that is? Well, even if you have here are some tips.

But first, some caveats. I’m not talking about the people who do it for fun or exercise, or both. This is a great idea and good luck and best wishes to them. In a way, this is a bit about them, since they are the ones who will end up appreciated.

When you happen to be in a place where some sort of commercial belly dancing performance is taking place, it doesn’t take long to notice a number of things. Maybe I’m jaded, having seen a lot of these, but even so. This latest one was in a club up on 21st street. First off, the dancers are weighed down by a series of remarkably similar musical selections that show exceptional ineptitude and a complete lapse of judgment. I am assuming that they think they are being innovative by picking some sort of modern rock’n'roll but the fact that all of them did this should have given them a clue. On top of the bizarre music choices we were then treated to the usual pretentious display of body gyrations that are neither sexual nor interesting, yet show a remarkable degree of self-absorption and conceit. Belly dancing shouldn’t be taken literally, first of all, it’s about a dancer moving her belly not about the belly continuing to vibrate all by itself. Secondly, belly dancing doesn’t automatically make you cool, attractive, better, smarter, or guarantee you a win in the lottery. Get over yourself, already. So, is there an upside? Yes, there is!

So, how does one enjoy this spectacle? Watch the crowd. Somewhere in the back, you will find a group of women who, thinking themselves relatively unobserved, will give themselves over to the music and proceed to put on a display of their own. This is what you want to watch. They are usually better than the pros. They are spontaneous, engaged, and enthusiastic. Completely worth the trip. Cheers to the anonymous dancers in the back. :) Good show.

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