Thursday, August 5, 2010

GBD & Etiquette II: Looking In from the Outside (originally posted on 12/22/08)

Time for another one of those discussions to get our brains unfrozen and thinking. Folks have been proposing some more topics to fit under this category (keep ‘em coming too!), and several were related, so I figured I would lump ‘em together in one related area: Gothic Bellydancers and Their Behavior.

If you’ve been around the bellydance community long enough (maybe 4-6 years?), you would most likely know about the inner battles about decorum and behavior of bellydancers – what to do/not to do at a gig, how to behave appropriately, and all of the wagging of tongues over behavior that gives bellydancers a bad name in public venues (like lap dances, cheap slutty costumes, accepting tips in certain areas, etc). Nobody wants to be a “belly bunny”. No matter what country or area you’re in, it comes down to one bottom line: proper behavior earns respect.

Being that we’re already out there and have to work twice as hard to be recognized and respected for what we’re doing, it’s of the utmost importance to keep in mind for ourselves and our students proper behavior that will earn the genre more respect versus the “well, what else would you expect from a bunch of ‘goth’ bellydancers?”

So, I’ve taken a few of the questions and made some points a la Miss Manners – please feel free to add more or ask more!

**Protocol for Goth Clubs**

One of the questions I got was, if you’re performing at a Goth Club, is it OK to go out in your costume afterward and join the party? Well, let’s think of it in another way – if you were paid to perform at a restaurant, after your set would you go out and eat in your full costume next to the customers? The correct answer is NO. Not only can you get food stains on your costume – but it ruins the illusion for the paying audience. Same thing goes for a club – do you really want to get your costume even more sweaty and covered in drinks? And more importantly, it takes away from the specialness of your performance. Go, change, then come back if you want to party. Personally for ease, I may plan something into my costume that’s easily converted with some other items for basic clubwear, like a skirt or pants – cause we all know how fun it tends to be to get changed at a club.

**Taking Goth to the Mundanes**

This is for those times when you may have been asked to do a Gothic piece in a venue that is more traditional or non-goth – whether it’s a showcase of styles in a staged show, or at a Middle Eastern restaurant. These are the times when it’s so important to be on your BEST behavior, whether you’re a local to the scene or a visitor. The traditional community is watching – especially if they invited you – and it’s so important to rein it in and be respectful of the host and the venue. Just because something is OK when it’s done at a Goth Club (whether on stage or on the floor), does NOT mean it’s proper behavior for a Middle Eastern restaurant. What’s the point? Shock value really has little value in the long run, and only comes off as disrespectful, NOT cutting-edge. Unless a certain piece has been specifically asked for by your host and will be properly introduced, don’t use this time to whip out your most hardcore piece. Bring a cover-up, have your music properly labeled, be a good audience member, arrive on time, be courteous to the other dancers. Otherwise, in the long (and short) run, you’re not only hurting yourself, but damaging the larger GBD community in general. It is important to show that GBD *IS* bellydance, that we’re respectful of our roots, and are professional through and through. Save the rabble-rousing for Denny’s at 3am.

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