Belly dance events to feel welcome at
Belly dancers have a lot of choices when it comes to what to attend, watch, participate in and look forward to. There are events and goings-on such as haflas, workshops, showcases, and conferences. There are different classes including online options, drop-ins, weekly, semi-privates and private lessons, as well as DVDs and more!
I like utilizing a variety of options in my dance studies and entertainment and tend to work more with those which are supportive and inclusive of all dancers. This may be in the form of vendors with a full range of sizes to choose from, to performers and instructors who may not be the stereotypical size and shape, to a truly welcoming, non-judgmental atmosphere. I’d rather spend my hard earned money and precious time at events where I feel good.
While there are some that don’t walk the talk, there are some places I regularly gravitate back to or are eager to try out because of the warm, safe atmosphere. There are some event sponsors who are very intent on minimizing drama, providing a fun-filled environment and ensuring everyone is made to feel included.
Tiffany and Krystal, two dancers in Tampa created “Sugar Rush! Dance Experiment Project,” a monthly no-costume event (but ok if you want to) that is low pressure, and such a good time. They specifically chose this format to accept people as they are, to allow them to experiment with dance in a safe place, and hold this concept close to their hearts. It is mostly alternative belly dance (I must say it is different when dancing sans costume) but other styles have been represented as well such as Polynesian and contemporary. I appreciate their efforts and attend as often as I can.
The Dangerous Curves Belly Dance Convention, a newer annual event, prides itself on an inclusive safe environment, especially for plus-sized dancers. They started in Detroit and will return there in the future as well as possibly do a stint in Tampa, and have moved the June 10-12, 2016 event to Spokane, Washington. Last year, they brought in Regan Chastain, writer and activist last year along with top name belly dance instructors such as Raksanna. The 2016 DCBDC headliner is Tempest, and there is a large number of a variety of different instructors to choose from (including moi) that should cover anyone’s wish list. The selection of workshops is practically endless and while there is a focus on making plus-sized dancers feel safe, there is definitely something for everybody!
The 12th annual Hawaii Belly Dance Convention coming up October 13-17 is another event that I feel great going to. Talk about the aloha spirit! At HBDC, you are always made to feel welcome. Malia puts together a stellar event where everyone is invited to attend the welcome gathering on Waikiki Beach, outdoor activities, after party, variety of workshops, a Middle Eastern Marketplace, gala shows and so much more. She oftentimes arranges discounts for attendees such as at a local hotel. I have seen performers in her shows that are all sizes, shapes and colors, including transgender and very pregnant. Talk about body acceptance! Her vendors have a great range of sizes of belly dance wear and accessories, stuff that actually fit some of us more voluptuous ladies! This is the kind of support all dancers need, feeling a part of, being accepted for who you are and what you bring and not how much you weigh, look like or whatever other label people sometimes like to stick on.
Supporting the events and vendors who realize that customers and dancers come in all shapes, sizes, colors helps keep them in business. There is so much going on locally, nationally and internationally, and we all have choices of where to spend our time and money. I just happened to name a few covering the U.S. coast to coast, so get adventurous and check these venues out or see what else is out there. For me, it is easy: I choose to support those who support and make me and everyone else feel welcome!
Nizana has been studying, teaching and performing different styles of Middle Eastern dance and belly dance fusion for many years. Nizana’s articles and reviews are regularly found in belly dance publications and she is the founder and Director of the Desert Silk Dance Company. Nizana’s love for the dance has had her involved in the dance community in many other ways such as emceeing, producing events, competition judging and drumming. Find more about Nizana at NizanaRaqs.com and facebook.com/nizana.el.rassan.