I would like to discuss about the things people keep asking for so many years I’ve been performing.
I remember when I first started belly dancing, someone came up to me and ask “Was that Indian dance that you just did?” So, I explain to her in details about my performance and style of dancing. She was satisfied and impressed. One of her friend who was with her at that time quickly snap a photo of us. After a short chat, we bid farewell. That wasn’t the end of that question. Few years after, more people show their interests and ask the same thing. This is way before Shakira was well known. At least not in Malaysia just yet. The bright side of it, I get to share stories and knowledge with those who ask. Thank you all for asking.
Now, this is the most common questions among friends, friend of a friend or mutual friends. “So you’re a belly dancer? I heard you’re good. Show us something.” I usually replied that I need to be in my costume to be able to show it properly or I would just grab my phone and start playing the video from my YouTube channel, followed with a cheeky question like, “How much are you paying me?” They thought i’m kidding. Haha! But at least, it helps stop most of them and hopefully reminded them not to ask such questions to any dancer ever again. Good or bad, professional or not, we don’t need to showcase the dance right at that moment just because you want us to. We will do it at our own freewill.
The next one is my favourite amongst all. “You’re a belly dancer? Where’s your belly? Don’t you need belly to do that?” Well, the answer is no. I don’t need a big wobbly belly. In a matter of fact, I don’t need fat to jiggles. Look at Rachel Brice or Elizabeth Strong. Look how fit and amazing they are. It is all about skill and body control. Even if you have a big belly, that doesn’t mean you can belly dance. Be careful with what you ask for or you will be forever hypnotized and be amazed.
One of the question I will never ever forget is, “Can you make enough money to survive?” Hmm, let’s see. I am still as healthy and alive since the past more than 15 years ago. So, yeah I survived. But thank you for your concern.
“Such an easy job you have. All you have to do is shake around half naked isn’t it?” Challenge accepted is my answer to those who said that. It took me years and years of training. It took me a couple of months 4-6 hours a day to master one particular move. I will not do it just for the sake of doing it. I want to make sure I made it as good as any belly dancer out there. It cost me a lot of money to travel for lessons and hoarding accessories and costumes. No, it is not as easy as you think. Just because you can shake, that doesn’t mean you’re doing it correctly. Belly dancing is like a sport too. You are exposed to any injuries, especially your back if you are not aware of correct posture and your own physical abilities.
These questions coming up next are usually common among clients from event companies or ‘the paymaster’. Just in case some of you wondering what ‘the paymaster’ is? It is someone who pays you to perform. They are not necessarily the one hiring you (they could be sending their representative or hire someone else to get to you), but they are the one with the money to pay you. First question can be, “I know you are done with your performance, but those guys over there requested for you to dance for them one more time.” Or it can also be, “Can you join that people over there for drinks and chat after your performance?” And the other one will be, “So, you are charging this much for 15 minutes. But if I only want 10 minutes, can I get a half price for it?”. Yes, so many of you ask that and still doing it. I have bills to pay too. I need to feed myself too. You are not just paying for a show, you have to realize you are paying for talent and quality this includes costume, accessories, makeup, training, transportation and time.
The next one is popular among students and studio owners too. “The first lesson is free right?” or “I need to promote / introduce this class. Can you help me out? A free trial lesson maybe?” Again, you have to know that you are paying for, not just talent but knowledge too. If you are really interested and have a strong will to learn, payment shouldn’t be an issue. So, ask yourself whether you are serious to learn at first place.
Last but not least is, “Can I try your costume?” Here’s the thing, you have to understand that my costume were tailor made for me. I bought it in my exact size to fit me comfortably. My costumes are my asset. Essential for me. I will myself offer it to you if I want to. However if I don’t, it is because the costume is part of my life. Every single one means a lot to me and they are very personal. It’s where my sweat and hard work is. And each one of them are quite costly to make and create. So no, you can’t wear them but I am more than happy to help find the ‘one’ for you.
There you go. The most common questions I’ve been asked repeatedly over the years. On the positive note, it is a good way to find out the answers as long as you are prepared to hear something that might not please you.