Gilded Serpent presents...
on Getting Tips

by Zaheea

This may be an article of little use for seasoned dancers who know how to work a crowd and always end up with lots of tips at the end of the night or those who have been dancing at the same establishment for years. Instead, I’ve written this article for those who are new to performing professionally or those who may be unsure of how to properly receive tips, in any sort of setting.

This is not an argument for or against the ways in which a dancer should be tipped. Would you rather receive them in a basket or belt, or have them showered over your head? That is up to you and the place where you dance. Each to her own. Over the years, I’ve taken tips in my belt, my bra strap, showered over my head, as an origami figure (twice, shaped as a ring and placed on my finger!), or simply placed in a pot or basket.

I base the following advice on my own personal experience of dancing in restaurants weddings and clubs for over 13 years. Here are a few tips on getting tipped:

  • Don’t ever expect tips, you may be disappointed. Have you ever felt like you were begging for tips? Don’t do it. If your audience knows/wants to tip, they will. Don’t force it. There may be nights where you go home without making any tips.
  • If you are the hired entertainer for an establishment, tipping is not required of the audience. Some audiences don’t know that they are expected to tip. Don’t take it personally. I usually dance twice for the same audience, but I only bring my tipping pot around to them once. However, I leave it out for people who would like to tip me again can do so. One place where I used to dance would put a basket out by the door with a sign that read “Dancer Tips” and people would usually put more money in it on their way out.
  • I always try to make tipping personable and fun. Always say thank you! No matter how you take their money, always say thank you. Thank you very much, shoukran, merci, etc. Thank your patrons for giving you their tips. It also doesn’t hurt to also thank them for coming to the place where you are dancing: “Thank you for coming to Marrakech!” and other small talk can be fun for your audience.
  • Don’t single men out for opportunities to tip. Women love Belly dancing too! I’ve often seen women giving their men money for tips. When you accept this money, thank the man and the woman for the tip. Often , I smile at the woman patron and thank her directly.
  • If you make it hard for someone to tip you, either with a big shimmy or swaying your tip pot, the tipper and the audience loves it. I get the same reaction no matter the nationality, event, or circumstance. For all audiences and all occasions, I always try to make tipping personable and fun. From making it a challenge to put the money in your pot/tucked in your belt to simply talking to your audience and saying “Thank you!”
  • For those who are uncomfortable with body tipping and would like to transition to other ways of accepting tips: Set the standard at the restaurant/club where you perform so everyone is doing it the same way. Consistency is the key.

I would like this to be a “to be continued” article because I am sure that there are many other great tips on how to collect tips. I would love to hear them! I started out thinking that I had to be a mysterious and exotic dancer, never communicating with my audience. Now, years later, I understand that communication is the key to establishing rapport. I believe that if you are personable and are having fun, your audience will shower you with money, even on your worst night!


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Ready for more?
3-2-05 The Blind and Bellydance by Zaheea
She had a genuine joy in her smile as she shimmied and swayed to the music as her husband sat and enjoyed his wife's enthusiasm.

3-9-03 The Joy (and Pain) of Collecting Tips by Sandra
I've been collecting tips for almost 10 years now, and it's only in the last 2 or 3 years that I've really felt confident about it.

7-27-05 Calling all professional dancers! How much do you charge? by Nanna Candelaria
Over the years, we dancers have unwittingly kept the general rate ridiculously low in restaurants and nightclubs.

8-4-06 Field Report from the Dance Gig Front by Surreyya Hada
After a pause, and a little embarrassment, I threw my hands up at him in disgust and walked away. The audience laughed loudly.

12-30-06 I Dance; You Follow by Leila
As Westerners interested in an Eastern dance form, we might want to ask ourselves if we are missing certain critical aspects of Raqs Sharki because we are not open to Eastern teaching methods.





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