I have wanted to write this blog for a long time as in the past 3 years there has been a drastic drop in what belly dancers in Orlando, FL have been charging at restaurants, and I want to know why…
My first restaurant job ever was at a restaurant called Opa. I had been bellydancing for only a short year and was directed by my teacher to go an audition so I went, and well, I got the job and started dancing there. I was a super beginner and had no idea that there were standard rates. They offered me $75 at the time for 3 1/4 shows which was nothing (but I didn’t know better)!
Working there I soon found out a ton about belly dance and the industry amongst other dancers so I began to realize that what they paid all the dancers there was pretty low, so after some time working there and improving my skillset, I asked for a raise, and you know what, I got it! Now it was $100 for 3 ¼ shows and I felt quite happy, but still, that wasn’t enough, because at the other 3 restaurants I worked at I followed the standard Orlando rates practices (now that I was told by several dancers what they were) and was charging $75/30 minute show if a semi-pro and $100/30minute show once I became pro. So I asked for more perks and you know what, I got them! The worse they could say was no, but in my 5 years working at Opa I was able to negotiate free costumes, rates, more rest time between sets, and etc.
This for about the last decade had been the standard in Orlando, FL and anyone going under that was of course undercutting. It happens innocently enough, like it did with me, so I thank my teacher and dancers who guided me to raising my rates and making things better. As I continued to grow in skillset in my shows and right before I “retired” from regular restaurant dancing, I was commanding $125 for a 20 minute show at hookah lounges and restaurants here, and I thought that all the contracts, negotiating, and hard work that had gone into making that possible would continue on and spread with other dancers, but now I am finding out that it didn’t!
In fact several friends who are very professional and high caliber dancers tell me they are charging $50! Fifty measly dollars….as a wise dancer once said to me, “I wouldn’t even shave my legs and get out of bed for $50”.
What caused this?
Why have things gotten so out of hand? Why are professional dancers who I love and respect charging so little? Why can’t we all have a meeting together and talk about the old standard and see if we can slowly raise that up again, and then go beyond that within a few years time? It has happened before, and it can happen again. We all know who are working the restaurants, so lets meet up in casual and relaxed setting.
Back in the day, if you were a $50 dancer, owners KNEW that they wouldn’t be getting a great dancer at their restaurant, so they had the push to pay a little extra if they wanted higher level talent and entertainment. What happened to this? Why are many Orlando bellydancers bending to the will of cheap restaurant owners? Why are we scared to negotiate with owners? Why are some scared to even bring it up with their managers? Why is this all happening?
Invitation to Have a Meeting at my Casa
I would love to invite the working dancers in the community (whether newbie or semi-pro, or pro) to please have a meeting with me, and we figure out how to make things better not just now, but for the future. This is a touristic city, we can make so much more if we band together like in old times. I miss that. We should be able to speak openly about rates, give work to each other when some is in need, nurture the newbies, and raise the bar, not lower it.
I invite you to message, email or call me and lets set up a fun date/time at my house, and talk openly, respectfully, and make a positive change. I love my community, so let’s fix this together! No cattiness or disrespect will ever be allowed in my home, this is to be a respectful, and open discussion on making positive changes and educating one another to make a plan.