by Jasmine June
posted August 18, 2011
Did you know that Belly dancing leads to masturbation? Neither did I. Yet, according to journalist Nikki Lott of the Dallas Observer, that’s a result of Belly dancing. In an article posted earlier in the Dallas Observer, Lott referred to the upcoming Belly dance convention in Grapevine, Texas, “Yaa Halla Y’all”, as a “Flicking Your Bean” seminar! (For those of you don’t know, that vile phrase is slang, meaning female masturbation.) Lott also encouraged women to decorate their vaginas (since women are going to all that trouble to bare their midriffs anyway) and started the article with the command: “Vajazzle your Jazzler”. You can read the full article here.
After a major unexpected backlash from the Belly dance community, the Dallas Observer pulled the article and replaced it with a cleaner, more condescending version. However, in explaining the update, the paper issued a weak apology at best and then caused further harm by accusing the Belly dance community of causing a “ruckus”. Sorry, Dallas Observer, but it’s the other way around; the poorly written and offensive article caused the ruckus. What the Belly dance community created was a powerful backlash.
The silver lining in all this is witnessing the wrath of Belly dancers scorned.
Certainly, Belly dancers world-wide ought to feel proud of the wit and intellect present in the dancers’ responses. For example, in Ozma’s Costumes Facebook note, the writer offers an apt description of how Lott’s article would read if applied to a more masculine art form, reading like this:
“Drop your cocks and grab your socks, fencing is coming to the Media Convention center and, let’s face it, we’re bored this summer. Now, I don’t know if the saber or lance or whatever is a symbol of phallic inadequacy for all fencers, and there is no reason to stop masturbating on my account, but it seems like there is something fairly Freudian about the whole thing…”
The Dallas Observer Facebook page is filled with hundreds of comments from Belly dancers, producers, and Belly dance fans. These comments come from all over the world, from as far away as the Philippines. While anger can be felt throughout the posts, most of the commentators made succinct and insightful points.
In fact, the hundreds of comments now make the Dallas Observer Facebook page a convenient source for all that is Belly dance. Culture, origins, history, costumes, health benefits, and other useful subjects are all mentioned and thoroughly described.
Dancers posted pictures of non-midriff baring costumes and videos of elegant performances. Other dancers explained the years of training involved in becoming a professional Belly dancer and the importance of treating the dance with respect. The wide array of Belly dance styles was clearly showcased, and yet, the force of the backlash showed that we are a united community, speaking with many voices and one voice at the same time.
In her blog, writer and dancer, Dilara Sultan, writes, “If anything, we can rest assured that when it matters, Belly dancers will take the stand to defend their art, proving to anyone that the last person you want to mess with is a Belly dancer.” Nevertheless, I think that Princess Farhana sums it up best with her version of a “finger symbol”.
Ready for more?
- 7-24-11 Bellydance ‘n All that Jazz, Trends in Tribal Fusion
For some dancers, it can be easier to relate to music from one’s own culture than it is to music from halfway around the world.
- 3-17-11 Empowering Women in India through Belly Dance
The company works with less fortunate and troubled families and women, and pays the women a decent sum for their crafts as a way of helping them out
- 2-26-11 Not So Steam punk Belly Dance
Since Tribal Fusion is also easily accessible, there have been dancers who begin performing and calling themselves professional when really they are just hobbyists. A professional belly dancer would never label her dance genre based on an aesthetic.
- 12-14-10 Tribal Fusion: An Evolving Dance Form
The biggest contrast between ATS and Tribal Fusion was that improvisation was the basis for ATS while Tribal Fusion, at least in its earliest phase, had a strong emphasis in choreography. This allowed Jill Parker to play around with musicality and to explore musical genres that were appealing to her.
- 11-3-10 An Intro to Tribal Fusion
Since Tribal Fusion Belly Dance is a relatively new dance form, it is especially important to treat the genre with a level of professionalism, or else one runs the risk of discrediting the work of dancers who have dedicated their lives to creating and elevating Tribal Fusion Belly Dance.
- 9-16-10 To Berlin and Back, Bridging Cultures Through Belly Dance
In this way, he demonstrated that belly dance isn't something that is defined by culture. Rather, it is an art form that can be perfected by anyone who puts their mind to it, and it's an art form that can be used to bridge cultures rather than divide them.
- 8-15-11 “Ghannili Shwayya, Shwayya”, (Sing for me a little, a little), Musings: Music Choices at BDUC 2011
Thirty-one contestants and thirty mergencies later, I had my answer.
- 8-13-11 Your Stage Name, Choosing the Right One
Beware of letting others name you! Years ago, dancers were often surprised before going on stage to dance as they were announced by musicians or club owners by a name unknown to them that they hadn’t selected.
- 8-11-11 Gigbag Check #30 – Suhaila Salimpour
Suhaila take us on a tour through her gig bag and what is important for her to have with her for performance. This video was shot in May 2011 in the dressing room at Tribal Fest in Sebastopol, California.
- 8-10-11 From Town to Goat Track, A Tour of the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan
One lithe young girl twisted her way through this crack and into the tiny cave, and brought back some mineral crystals, said to have healing powers.
We are packed tightly shoulder to shoulder, impulsing to the dramatic beat with great solidarity: traditional hand gestures, chest drops, all very serious and trance like. This mood was broken however by a guy at the back of the 200 plus audience, who stood on his chair, raised his beer glass and shouted "The one in the yellooooow…." then actually fell completely backwards like a tree that had just been cut! I hope he was OK!
- 8-5-11 Carnival of Stars, Page 4: O-Z Photos
The Carnival of Stars Festival is produced by Pepper Alexandria and Latifa at the Richmond Auditorium each year at the beginning of August. The stage at this facility is hard to beat. The wonderful lighting and the large stage make every dancer feel like a diva! Once again, Carl has done an amazing job catching the character of each dancer.
- 8-4-11 Intervew with Ahmet Ogren, Bringing Gypsy Dance to the People
Ahmet is a sexy and masculine dancer who combines a sense of playful humor and has the dedication and drive of a consummate professional. He pushed us hard, laughed, and encouraged us.