I have to say I am SOOOOOOO happy with not having any ads what so ever on my account now. I used to ignore them but I never really realized how much I still noticed them. Now it feels relaxing to me not to have any ads on the site. Just wanted to share the epiphany I just had.
Hi: I, also, can't afford a paid membership. I'm the only one running my restaurant, dance school, and baklava business. No partner, no husband, no help. I've been ripped off so much by the people I trusted that I'm now struggling to come out from under. And the amounts of licenses, permits, and overhead are so astronomical that another $14 just can't work. Just had to put my two cents in. Thanks for the opportunity to say so. -SAusan
I'm not offended by the ads, frankly. I don't normally notice them, but if they are bellydance-related I sometimes click on them.
None of the other perks mentioned are things I would be willing to pay for, to be honest. In particular - I have been on other forums where people had too much free reign on their avatar and the result was a distracting array of sparkles, smiley faces doing cartwheels and flying pickle animations. I didn't care for it - sorry (I am curmudgeon?).
I also don't like the idea of a private member forum because I think it will discourage new users from getting involved. I remember when I first found popular bellydance forums as a new dancer and it opened my world. I lurked for quite awhile on the threads of more experienced dancers before I worked up the nerve to get involved. I would likely never have stuck around if I had to pay for a private member's forum to see the good conversations.
One thing I would be willing to pay for is access to a bustling swap meet. I hate Panjo. I think we all hate Panjo. If I could have the pre-Panjo, non-Facebook swap meet back in forum format I would be willing to pay as much as $5/month - but it would have to be well-attended by real dancers (not crap sellers) to be worthwhile, IMO.