The Gilded Serpent
of a Goddess
I've always found it amusing
when "feminists" rail against Bellydancing
as exploitative of women or explicitly seductive ("for men").
I certainly know sex sells in the common marketplace. I am a survivor
of nightclub dancing - 5 years in Europe (mostly Portugal, Spain
and Greece) - 2 or 3 shows a night, 6 nights a week - and
the nightlife ain't no good life! Sleazy night rats, by
day married professional men like doctors and politicians (when
did they ever work - or sleep?) propositioned me with "Come
on, everyone has their price". I held to the somewhat
naïve, wholesome American Girl posture - "No, I'm here
for the art and love of this dance". Subtext: "I
found a way to get paid to travel, wear gorgeous costumes, and
conquer my shy streak" or "For my own edification, pleasure,
course every occupation has its downside, and often "consummation"
was part of the job. The first time I heard the term I told
the club owner I wouldn't do it, thinking it meant "to
consummate" as in "the relationship". It turned
out to mean sitting at the tables with the "clients"
between shows (to help sell, or consume, alcohol for a small
commission), as in "B-Girl".
However in Europe
there is yet another class of "B-Girl" hired alongside
the "artists" specifically to turn tricks later, so
that was not in my job description. I did indeed encounter
some very nasty club owners, some leering artist's visa police,
and waste some time fending off jerks, but I also met wonderful
folks, learned new languages and a lot about our species, and
saw a good portion of the globe. I literally danced my way to
Morocco and Egypt and made lifelong friends on the way. I even
collected kudos on my dancing from the cogniscenti -- like
when the Turkish Ambassador to Portugal and his wife debated my
origin - he said I was surely from Turkey, she thought
I was too graceful (and thus won the bet!).
In Greece, that gray area where Middle-East meets West, there
are many Arabic businessmen out looking for a Western good time.
Middle-Eastern dancers are imported from many different countries.
(No, bellydance is not indigenous to Greece, but much of
the culture of the Ottoman Empire's 600-year rule was absorbed
into Greek culture, especially the music). I was able to befriend
and learn from some of these girls during our free afternoons,
as well as take few sessions with Rhea,
originally from Oakland, CA, but then Queen of the Plaka.
In February I remember basking on the beach at Piraeus or on Crete,
beading fringe and talking story with other dancers. I sometimes
danced in the all-night Bazoukias, where everyone from
kids to Great-Grandmas would enjoy the music and song and dance!
For a while I was the sheltered star of a Syrian restaurant with
its own wonderful house band.
Then there was International Shopping, and finding ways
to make myself at home in any environment. I could go on about
how personally enriching that period of dancing abroad was for
me (31-36 earth years of age), and then upon return stateside
(1985) new journeys with dance began. I now find myself in the
company of Bellydance Visionaries who consciously learn
and teach how to connect with our inner Goddess/Priestess aspects
through the dance. More on that next Web-zine - Leaving you for
now with the quite personal question Why do you dance? Dhyanis@activation.com
(www.creativei.com/dhyanis} Watch for
the 7th Annual Living Goddess Festival June 18 & 19,
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
more by Kayla
Kayla's Travel Journal
Continues--Hamam III by Kayla Summers
that point the steward says "now" and you jump off.
How I came to
Turkey by Kayla Summers
There are few people more cynical than I, but I maintain
that I saw what I saw. Dada will not confirm or deny the incident;
he just laughs.
the Beach Girl, Tree Dweller”, Kalbak Beach by Kayla
...picture yourself on a guru orange air mattress, ever so gently
floating atop a crystal clear turquoise ocean ...
Justine and Her
Plant Visit Saqra's Annual Showcase by Justine
in the door, clutching my plants, vendor fever struck.
1001 Nights Oslo
Belly Dance Festival, The Show May 2 - 4, 2003 by Lunacia
festival began with a show at Oslo Concert Hall, and this year's
guest star was Lulu Sabongi from Brazil, who
opened this year's show.
My Greek Transformation
A Conservative Engineer meets the “Instigator of Revolutions”
by Barbara Grant
Rhea displayed boundless energy, far beyond my own at the best
of times. How would I be able to keep up with her?