Gilded Serpent presents...

Dallas Observer’s Recent Belly Dance Ruckus

Finger Symbol

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…”

screenshot of offending articleThe note continues on in a witty fashion while simultaneously defending the integrity of the dance.

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”.

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