It happens to all of us at one time or another…getting hit-on by a client, a stranger asking us to marry them, or the occasional “I bet if you go on one date with me, you’ll want me forever”. How about NO! Oh boy, where do I start? One common and annoying misconception about belly dancers is that we are eternally single i.e. not married or in an actual SERIOUS relationship. Now while some belly dancers are single out there that does not mean they are all over their clients trying to get dates! I personally, am happily taken. In fact having a partner in life who supports me has to be one of the most fulfilling and wonderful things to happen to me. Just because I belly dance and make people dance does not mean that I am flirting, cheating, or anything ridiculous of that nature. I am a true professional who is putting on a fun and appropriate performance for my guests and nothing more. I am writing this blog as a thank you to all the men in belly dancers lives who “get it”. Who know that this dance is nothing erotic in the correct hands. For the men who are more of a man than any others because they trust in their women and support their business smarts and independence. This is to thank our partners who come with us to private events, parties, haflas’, and pretty much everything else, because they know it will make us happy and they make sure we are kept safe.
I have met so many fantastic belly dancers who have had boyfriends who did not support their entrepreneurial decisions, choice of belly dance career, or in fact, made them feel demeaned for being professional dancers! It is terrible, I have experienced it in the past myself, and it is due to insecurity. When you find the right person, all those false and negative misconceptions simply disappear. Having the right partner makes you feel more confident and secure in your own career, and provides a support like no other.
So please, no more random calls, texts, e-mails, etc… from you single men! I have a boyfriend who I adore and cherish and in no way will I or any of my girlfriends out there with the same issue ever jeopardize the fantastic men we have in our lives. While I can honestly say that I love to be told that I look beautiful when I am wearing my regalia, it by no means gives any authorization to flirt with me. This girl is taken, and thank you to all the loves in women’s lives for supporting us in what we do and!
Belly Dancer Jennifer & Her Love
Here is the whole breakdown of why I and other belly dancers in Orlando, charge what we do. After examining this list it should become very apparent why this is a specialty type of service and the key differentiators between a professional such as myself and non-professionals. The dancing you see in a performance is the fun part, but the behind the scenes work that is put into producing a show is quite a different story:
- Gas– It just keeps going higher doesn’t it?
- Car Maintenance– My car is one of my most important assets, if it is not up to shape I cannot drive anywhere! As a belly dancer I put in about 24,000 miles a year driving to all my venues and events.
- Tolls– Those get higher every year as well.
- “Renting” Costumes– All my costumes are high end Turkish designer duds or from my self-made line. All in all, that leads to big $$$$ being spent to make a big impression. Every wear of a costume depreciates its resale value (like a car). In fact we are “renting” a costume every time we use it.
- “Renting” Props– the same basic idea goes for props as it does costumes.
- Custom Music Edits– Hello software! Music editing software costs money and so does every single song we must buy that is not easily available on popular music sites such as I-tunes. Many of the most amazing songs I use have taken months of research to find, and are in languages not familiar to me, so that is a part-time job in and of itself.
- Custom CD– I never use the same cd twice! Every event is different and I make sure to custom tailor my cd’s to fit with the requests, and event type I am performing in. I would not play Shakira in a traditional Greek wedding party if you know what I mean.
- Education/Training– This is the one huge difference between professionals and non-professionals who call themselves “professional”. Non-pro’s have had minimal if no training in this beautiful art form and it is apparent in their skill set. The dance is the first and foremost matter of importance to become a professional. You can have a beautiful costume, but if you dance poorly, it will not compensate. Like Doctors, Lawyers, and other serious professionals, we spend hundreds if not thousands per year on workshops and training alone to ensure we stay on top of the trends and maintain our abilities. Just a one weekend intensive runs $300-$500! Looking at my schedule alone, you can already see that this takes up a big chunk of my time and earnings, much like college tuition would for a student.
- Workshops With the Masters– I spend hundreds if not thousands every year learning from the belly dance masters at workshops held all around the Florida State. This is the top way to maintain technique and keep up with the trends. These are imperative to growing as an artist and making my shows better and better every year.
- Photo-shoots– All those beautiful photos you see in our galleries, marketing, and business cards….let me tell you, those professional shots did not happen for free! Photography is an essential part of this business and lets you the client know what we look like NOW. Each costume change is an additional cost on top of the photographers fee (and we rotate costumes frequently). Overall each professional photo-shoot runs $450-$600. Take that with the fact that we professionals do a photo-shoot once to twice minimum per year and you will see how quickly the numbers add up.
- Business Cards– an essential part of any business.
- Website– between design, encoding, maintenance, renewals, and etc…that’s $$.
- Advertising/Marketing– I have to make sure I reach out and sustain my business
- Makeup– performance makeup costs considerably more than normal everyday wear makeup and the fact that it has to be sweat proof also adds a nice chunk to the bill.
- Jewelry– the icing on the cake, one looks to bare without it.
- Seamstress– Dancing full time causes constant weight shifts, and seamstresses are pricey. This is the only way to ensure though that our costumes stay on securely and do not detract from the show.
- Chiropractor– In my particular style, sharp movements are commonly utilized, and over time causes much wear and problems in the back and leg areas. Visiting a chiropractor at least once a month is essential to my professional health.
- Hair Upkeep– One might say “that’s not a necessary expense” but boy that couldn’t be more wrong! Could you imagine me coming to a venue looking great head to toe but with a frizzy hairdo? Keeping my VERY long hair clean, neat, and healthy is a process, and takes thousands of hours of my time per year.
- Expensive Fuels for Fire Performances– These fuels are becoming more popular as more fire performers are appearing, and so the price has continuously gone higher and higher.
- Performer’s Insurance– This is an extremely important factor! This is my way of protecting myself and you in the event that some unforeseen circumstance causes an accident. This also is proof that I am knowledgeable and experienced in this craft.
- Studio Rentals– If you want to take a class or workshop at a studio, rent must be paid to the owner by the hour and it is not cheap.
- Cleaners (only way to really clean a costume) – Costumes (due to their rhinestones, exotic beads, and sequins) are not something you can just throw in the laundry with the rest of your clothes. Especially since these costumes usually cost between $500-$1000! The fabrics used often time trap odors so the use of a professional to steam clean of dry-clean your garment is a must in order to not ruin the beautiful detail work.
For those of you who did not see this on Facebook or Bhuz, here is a little something I made with the help of my fellow friends. It is called “Sh*t Belly Dancers Say” (forgive the naughty word reference). This is actually inspired by last months huge “Sh*t Say” videos craze that scoured all over YouTube. It is super cute and funny! If you are not a belly dancer, no worries, there is some lines of text to help decipher a couple of things. 🙂 It gets better the more you watch I promise.
So enjoy and please share with your fellow belly dancers, friends, family, and anyone else who might get a good laugh from watching our quirky yet so true ways. Special thanks to Zana, Kristina Nazario,Lacey Sanchez, Najmah Nour, and Shawna for the help and input 🙂
I posted this on my fan-page already but I think this is something everyone should see. It is a belly dance documentary talking about the historical, cultural, and family roots of belly dance. I have always been a huge advocate of educating the gp about this dance as it truly it. Often times American TV can really tarnish the good name of belly dance and what these ladies are doing with this documentary is just another step in the right direction for us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and now watch this please 🙂 *Please note it starts at 17 seconds*