Complete Performance Bag
Once you start performing
regularly, you will quickly discover how critical it is to
be prepared for anything. Poorly sewn bra straps, minor injuries,
and misbehaving hair can put a damper on your performance by
causing stress and distracting you from the task at hand.
bag is that ONE practical and necessary accessory that aids
in the creation of that ideal performance environment.
Being prepared for
anything before, during, and after the show with a well-stocked
performance bag can save you time, help to keep your costumes
and accessories organized and in good condition, stop the hassle
of getting all the various items you need together for each
performance, and ensure that you have all the contingencies
covered when things do not go as planned. Murphy’s Law applies
to belly dancing too.
Before you go out
and buy a cute little bag with many pockets, take a moment
to consider what you need. The organizing process is best done
top-down. We must first determine what items we need to go
into our bag then we can better select what bag will best organize
Let’s begin by gathering
basic items that should always be in your bag. Most of these
items can be purchased at your local drug or discount store
or you may already have them. I recommend getting a big box
or container to store the items in until you are ready to select
a permanent bag to carry them in:
- Safety pins (in various sizes) in any small container to hold
them. I use an old Altoids tin to store mine. Safety pins
will be used to reinforce your costumes or to make quick
and other hair products
Guard – to fight static electricity in your costumes
and veils. Some folks say not to use it, but I have never
had a problem with it.
whether you have allergies, a cold, need to wipe something
off your costume, or polish your sword last minute…Keep a
travel size packet handy.
pins and hair accessories you use – just keep them
in your bag, so you have them, whether you are doing your
hair at home or at the venue.
sewing kit – a basic kit includes a needle and a few
colors of thread. Pre-made kits may be purchased at discount,
drug, and fabric stores.
basic first aid kit – include a limited range of bandages
and an antiseptic. I also like to carry a small bottle
of NewSkin; it’s a clear antiseptic liquid and bandage
in one – perfect for shaving nicks and small wounds. Small
kits can be purchased at drug, discount, and sporting good
brush and/or hair pick – for grooming yourself. Nothing
says “unprofessional” like bed-head.
sanitizer – sometimes you are in a location where you
can’t wash your hands.
Wipes – great for cleaning off mystery substances or
for cleaning up before or after a show.
removing wipes – don’t let a stain set into that expensive
costume. Treat stains immediately.
toilet paper – if you’ve ever performed at a public
park or have restaurant gigs, you’ll understand completely
why this is necessary. You can buy prepackaged small rolls
at drug, discount and sporting good stores.
for touch-ups - at least a hand held mirror, powder,
eyeliner, and lipstick. The rest is dependant on your needs.
cards and promotional materials – Be ready to give
out your info and promote your events. Always keep extras
in your bag.
- Medication –
always have a small bottle or packets of painkiller/anti-inflammatory
and indigestion/heartburn/nausea medicine. Eye drops are
great to have too. If you require prescription medication,
have that in your bag, as well. You can get a cute little
pill box to carry it, if you like.
spray or dissolvable stripes – not only do they fight
bad breathe, but a couple sprays or one strip can help
keep your mouth from getting dry during performance.
bottle or two of water – one before and one after your
performance. Staying hydrated is top priority. Get the
fluids you need before you sweat and then get more to replace
the fluid you lost during performance. This is especially
important for those dancers doing long sets.
toothbrush, toothpaste and floss – doing a show after
dining? Be prepared to clean your teeth. Floss is great
to repair fringe too,
- Organizers -
You may also want to purchase smaller bags or containers
to help you organize everything within your performance bag.
Be sure to buy these containers after you have pulled together
all your necessary items AND before you select a bag.
index cards with your basic bio/introduction on them – this
will save you time and the frustration of trying to write
this out before going on-stage. You have more important
things to do before your performance than trying to come
up with a glowing schpeel off the top of your head.
– great for wiping off sweat and cleaning up spills.
You can also wrap your costume in it, to protect it and
absorb the sweat out of it, after performing.
– like granola or energy bars. Good for taking the
edge off hunger and giving you a little extra energy before
products – always (no pun intended) have extra.
razor – if you didn’t have time to shave or you missed
or kaftan – to maintain the mystique of your costume
before and after the show.
tape – double-sided tape to hold your costume in place.
go beyond the basics. Below is a list of things that you
may or may not carry in your bag. This is where your individual
needs come into play. It’s important for you to consider
what YOU usually need to be prepared. Please add what you
need to the ideas I have below:
and accessories– if you wear it, have it ready. I use
a big zip lock baggie but I’ve been searching for a jewelry
roll that has clear plastic zippered pockets. You should
feel free to improve the organization of your own bag based
on your needs and desires.
glitter – spray, roll-on, or loose powder, it is up
pieces or wigs – be sure to store hair in a container
that protects it and helps it maintain shape. Before I
decided to grow my hair out, I had a fall style hair piece,
I would store it in a collapsible shoebox-size container
made of breathable mesh. It really helped to keep the hair
piece in shape and allowed it to air dry.
contact lenses and solution – if you have really poor
vision and could not perform without vision correction.
gloves or slippers – if you get cold hands or feet
false eyelashes and eyelash adhesive
shoes – if you perform in them.
So, we have now covered
the items that will remain in your bag most of the time. Let’s
consider what else you will be putting into your bag on an
individual performance basis. This will also help to ensure
we choose the right size bag down the road:
- Costumes- what type of costumes do you usually wear, heavy
and bulky or little and light, or a mixture? Do you typically
do costume changes and require carrying around more than
- Music –
do you intend to carry two CDs in two jewel cases or do you
intend to have a case with many CDs in it?
(2 pair) – if one set is broken or lost, have a back-up
- Props –
are you going to be storing props that you regularly use
in the bag? such as- veils, candles, etc.
Now, lay out all the
items that you will putting into your new bag on a big table
or on the floor. Then sort them into piles and into categories
that best fit your style. For instance, one pile can be hair
stuff, one pile can be jewelry, and another could be first
aid and medicines.
Now, go out and find
a bag that will fit and organize all the stuff you need to
carry – with room to spare. That could mean a duffle
bag or a medium-sized “carry-on” with wheels and a handle.
Perhaps you currently own a bag that will do the job or you
may have to do a little shopping to find the right one. If
you do need to purchase a new bag, I recommend going to a store
like Ross or TJ Maxx, they have a range of brand name bags
and luggage at good prices. However, do not skimp on quality
here, you want a bag that can stand up to years of use and
abuse. Find one with strong zippers, handles, and fabric.
Warning: Resist getting
a bag that is too big, too heavy or hard to maneuver. You don’t
want to waste your energy lugging your bag around. You need
that energy for your performance. If you can’t lift and carry
it comfortably, reduce the size of your bag, consider getting
smaller (travel-size) items of what you need, and make sure
you are carrying ONLY what you may need. If you know an item
isn’t essential and has no potential to save you or your costumes,
Bags come in many
shapes and sizes. Some have various compartments, lots of pockets
inside and out, wheels, different carrying mechanisms, in other
words, much to choose from. While searching for the perfect
bag, visualize where your items may fit best into each prospective
bag. Once you have a bag selected, experiment with organizing
everything into the bag. I like to store things by use. First-aid
and repair items go in one pouch, jewelry and hair items go
in another. The possibilities are endless. The goal is to find
a system that is effective and efficient for you and helps
you to easily find what you need when you need it. Be prepared,
to shuffle things around a bit until you find what works best
Once you have the
bag packed as you like it, be sure to put a name tag on it
with pertinent information. Just in case it is lost or stolen,
you want to be sure you have done everything possible to get
it returned to you promptly and safely. Make it as easy as
possible for the finder to contact you, include your stage
and real name, if different, as well as your phone number and
email address. I wouldn’t recommend putting your home address
on it, for security reasons.
Lastly, be sure to
keep your bag well stocked and replace used items promptly.
What good is it if you don’t have what you need, when you need
it? In the future, if you find that you need to keep getting
another item before heading out the door or that you always
need to stop and get a particular item at the store, just add
it to your bag to save you the hassle!
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