Street performing

Belly Love

New member
I came across some belly dancers that were performing on the street. I like the idea of it, but I wonder what it's really like. I know it's not very common to see street performers in smaller towns, but they are very common in big cities around the U.S. I very much enjoy them around my city and think it makes for great ambiance while out shopping on vacation.

In the States one is usually required to pay the city a small yearly fee and there are rules and regulations that go along with it. One can also make several hundred dollars in a day. I would think it would be hard to dance for hours, even with breaks. It could be partially used for practicing (if you are already at a professional level) since you're not expected to put on a specific show for anyone. I like seeing it, but I'm not sure if I would do it...

I'm curious, what do you think of belly dancing street performers and would you ever do it yourself?



 
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Jane

New member
I've done it before as part of an organized outdoor street festival. Conditions stink for dancing. People milling around, wind, small children and dogs underfoot, bad dance surface. Hardly anyone pays attention for long because they are just walking by. Street performing is better suited for entertainment than art. Not my cup of tea, of course YMMV.
 

Mohana

New member
I believe that a dancer who frequents Venice Beach, Ca was my first in person experience with belly dance. She is still there. I saw her when I went back to visit. She does not perform for long periods, but has a booth where she vends in between dancing. The vending seems to be where whe makes her money, and the dancing justs brings people to her booth. She is a great dancer and very kind to me when I was younger. I wish I could remember her name.
 

goddessyasaman

New member
I have done it, wish i had a video of it, I live in Md, and at the inner harbor you are can perform, people do a lot of things there, singers, people who play insterments, I made a good amount of money I had a good amount of people who came over to watch, they took pictures and everything, I think I made like $600.0 and I was out there for about 6hrs so about $100 an hour not bad. I enjoyed it, I found it fun:D
 

Yame

New member
The conditions are usually not ideal (bad dancing surface whether it's concrete or grass, wind, etc) but I think it would be a fun way to get people interested. It could be a good way to promote a class or, as mentioned above, a vending booth... but that's IF the person performing is skilled enough and a good example of belly dance to show the general public.

However, I was unimpressed by most belly dance street performances I've seen (I'm not talking about the videos posted here though, as I haven't been able to watch them yet), but that's because for whatever reason the dancers that did it were unskilled.

One good example of belly dance street performance was one I saw in video recently, of one of my favorite dancers. She did a performance and mini-class at a subway station in Brazil, and it was interesting to see how when she started dancing, only a few people were watching, but by the time she was done there was a huge crowd. She did an awesome job.
 

Greek Bonfire

Well-known member
I would do it if it was in an environment where the crowd was controlled because sadly, you still can't predict how people will react to bellydancing on the street, at least in some places.
 

RayaDancer

New member
i agree that it seems that the dance surface may not be ideal but plenty of people do it. In fact my first encounter with belly dance was outdoors at a medieval fair (that was over 15 years ago, wow!)

i may be hijacking the thread right now and i apologize for it, but i watched the clips and the first girl, in case nobody knows it, is dancing to a Shakira song. sighhh.....
whether its a pre- or post- americanized shakira song i dont know, but i get so irritated with the whole shakira/belly dance association, as if it didnt exist before she came around! :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:
Sorry had to vent a little.....:)

i liked the girl in the second clip, even though it was a short clip.
 

goddessyasaman

New member
i agree that it seems that the dance surface may not be ideal but plenty of people do it. In fact my first encounter with belly dance was outdoors at a medieval fair (that was over 15 years ago, wow!)

i may be hijacking the thread right now and i apologize for it, but i watched the clips and the first girl, in case nobody knows it, is dancing to a Shakira song. sighhh.....
whether its a pre- or post- americanized shakira song i dont know, but i get so irritated with the whole shakira/belly dance association, as if it didnt exist before she came around! :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:
Sorry had to vent a little.....:)

i liked the girl in the second clip, even though it was a short clip.
Sorry I'm about to go off topic for one sec forgive me:pray:

I'm with you :rolleyes: I have never danced to shakira I just won't :lol: it's not that shakira is a bad dancer or hate her music,because she is good, but I don't think she would even call herself a Belly dancer(just trained in it I think she may say but I could be wrong), I never connected her with belly dance but a lot of people did'nt even want to do it till they saw her, which I'm glade she helped people get more into it, But thats as far as I go with that, I have danced to hiphop songs when dancing but most of the time I was home and I only used one hip hop song in my class before and that was a song by "Pit Bull" I know you want me, the reason I picked it was for my students to have a easy count to teach them how to move on the sound, worked very well I even used it in the first rectial they dance in, but other then that I stick to Belly dance based music unless I am dancing Gothic style.
 

LadyLoba

New member
As you all know, I love Shakira and would absolutely dance to her songs. As for street performing...I would do it once I were good enough to perform for pay overall.

I've never seen a belly dance street performance, but I've seen a lot of other performances...and it is important to remember that you have absolutely no crowd control, so you might get any form of disruption, from the absolutely tasteless, disrespectful and crude types that have been discussed here in other threads...to thoughtless things like people walking right over your performance space or bumping into your sound system...all the way down genuinely regretted but unfortunate accidents, such as kids too young to understand that its disruptive darting underfoot and people dropping or swinging bags.

But I like the idea a lot!
 

Belly Love

New member
I think I made like $600.0 and I was out there for about 6hrs so about $100 an hour not bad. I enjoyed it, I found it fun:D
That's pretty good!

It seems like a cool idea, but like others said, I suppose weather and dealing with undesireable people can be an issue. I would feel so vunerable, but I suppose I would get used to it after a few times. You could always offer a friend to sit with your stuff just for extra backup and offer to give them a bit of your earnings. They could hand out flyers/business cards too...

There weren't a whole lot of vids to chose from on youtube ;)
 

Starmouth

New member
I have danced in organised outdoor events in the street, for example carnivals, community open days, that kind of thing. Its always lots of fun, sometimes people join in, sometimes they don't even look at you! The conditions are certainly not ideal, veils are a nightmare!

I remember one occasion my troupe was part of a carnival procession promoting ethnic diversity in a local city and out of the blue the band starting leading us through a really grotty little housing estate with broken glass and dog mess everywhere! We ended up being escorted through by two attendants in fluorescent jackets who yelled "GLASS!" every time there was some danger to our poor, unprotected feet. And all through this we were trying desperately to remain graceful and elegant, keep up a 3/4 shimmy and a few little hip kicks whilst the band decided that the best thing to play would a samba version of Cotton Eye Joe. If you don't know the song, let's just say its far more suited to square dancing! :lol:
 
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Belly Love

New member
the band decided that the best thing to play would a samba version of Cotton Eye Joe. If you don't know the song, let's just say its far more suited to square dancing! :lol:
Oh, I know the song- YUCK! The bars I've worked in would sometimes play this at closing- it's to get people out the door faster ;)
 

Farasha Hanem

New member
I've done it before as part of an organized outdoor street festival. Conditions stink for dancing. People milling around, wind, small children and dogs underfoot, bad dance surface. Hardly anyone pays attention for long because they are just walking by. Street performing is better suited for entertainment than art. Not my cup of tea, of course YMMV.
I've never done "street performing" per se, but I've done Ren Faires now for 3 years (not consecutive, I missed last year :mad: ). Conditions are horrendous. Not only do you deal with wind and other weather conditions (my troupe had to deal with bone-chilling cold last year), bad dance surfaces, little kids, pets, and people who don't respect your designated dance space, there's the lovely aroma of horse poo, hay blowing around, and drummers who on occasion either get too enthusiastic or get off-beat and throw off your routine. :rolleyes: When you come home, you're worn-out, sore, possibly sunburned and/or slightly dehydrated, and when you take your costume off, you'll find hay inside your coin bra, and discover that you have a lovely "fake tan" caused by all the dirt that had blown around that day, covering you in grime.

In the words of Rachel Brice, "it's freakin' heaven!" xD I wanna keep doing it! :lol: I just hope somehow I can convince my troupe to drop the use of the word "Gypsy," and go with "fantasy" as a description of what we do. :confused:

We also do art festivals, which are a bit more controlled as far as environment. For the annual art festival and for the "Global Oklahoma" festival, we dance on a raised stage outdoors, so we're not in such close proximity to the audience. Even better, no hay. xD Still, there are unpredictable weather conditions. During our skirt number, a sudden heavy rain shower sent the audience skattering, taking shelter under awnings, even up in trees! :lol: We didn't even miss a beat, we just kept on, to the enthusiastic shouts of, "KEEP ON DANCING!" :lol: After we finished our skirt number, the rain slackened, then stopped, leaving puddles all over the stage. Our next number was our sword routine, which has floor work. :rolleyes: Well, you know the old saying, "The show must go on," so we did the routine, rolling in the puddles with swords on our heads, slowly spinning in the wind like a weather vane. It was so much fun! :D

This year at the Ren Faire, I had something unexpected happen. We did a veil routine, and if you've ever been in Oklahoma in the spring, you know the wind is terrible. It wasn't enough that we had to fight the Oklahoma wind with our veils; my veil got caught in my earring and nearly jerked it out! :shok: It stung like everything, and messed up my veil work, but I just kept on and went with it. While my friends managed to finish the routine and still look elegant, I ended up looking like Lucille Ball, but hey, what else can you do when your veil and earring end up in a fight? :rolleyes:
 

goddessyasaman

New member
Farasha Hanem it sounds like fun to me:D, I do the fairy festivals which is outside and I love it, and every year for three years(this year as well) I do Barons K9 country event to help save our four legged friends (dogs) it's outside i have to dance in the grass and there are a lot of dogs and they bark a lot and they may jump on you or even want you to pat thier butts while you are dancing:lol: but I love it look here is a clip of me performing there one year (clip below) oh and one year It was rain and wind and I had a veil dance that I peformed, the grass was so slippery that I almost fell so i put a fall in my performance and no one ever knew:lol:;):cool:


YouTube - Wild belly-Yasaman Vrd'dhi-Native American belly dancer
 
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shiradotnet

New member
I have very much enjoyed street performers of other genres, but haven't seen one doing belly dance. I expect I'd like it if the dancer is skilled and uses Middle Eastern music.

I haven't tried doing it myself. It's theoretically possible that I might do it if I wanted to try using it as a way to promote my classes, but at this point in time I don't feel myself drawn to try it.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Random thought of a costume obsessed seamstress: A cabaret costume complete with sequined bra and hipband is not particularly suitable for outdoors in the daytime. Something more covered-up and/or earthier is better complimented by sunshine and wind.

I've seen enjoyable street performances and ones where I ached with embarrassment for the performer. My favorites are park performances where a bunch of like-minded people just sort of drift together to play for a while. Got involved in one of those the last time I went to Santa Fe. My husband made a beeline for the drums and played with these folks for a good forty minutes.
 

Bast

New member
I danced with my class group at a street party last weekend.
I loved the crowd, they were very friendly and seemed to really enjoy the show.

Unfortunately it was very windy and we were doing an isis wings dance. My dance partner ended up getting completley tangled in her isis wings but managed to carry on with beautiful smile.

My teacher had to fend of overenthusiastic children who kept running out into our dance space, and had to ask the audience to move their tables and chairs as the space we requested had not been left for us.

All hazards of street performance I guess!

Even with all of that, we still had a great time. there was a different kind of energy about it and I would do it again.
 

Belly Love

New member
Something more covered-up and/or earthier is better complimented by sunshine and wind..
I agree. Something earthier tends to suit the environment more (hence the word I suppose!)

My favorites are park performances where a bunch of like-minded people just sort of drift together to play for a while. Got involved in one of those the last time I went to Santa Fe. My husband made a beeline for the drums and played with these folks for a good forty minutes.
I've seen a bit of this before in videos... seems like such fun and a bit romantic.

My teacher had to fend of overenthusiastic children who kept running out into our dance space,
Awww... that's actually cute :)
 
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Imeera

New member
I danced with my class group at a street party last weekend.
I loved the crowd, they were very friendly and seemed to really enjoy the show.

Unfortunately it was very windy and we were doing an isis wings dance. My dance partner ended up getting completley tangled in her isis wings but managed to carry on with beautiful smile.

My teacher had to fend of overenthusiastic children who kept running out into our dance space, and had to ask the audience to move their tables and chairs as the space we requested had not been left for us.

All hazards of street performance I guess!

Even with all of that, we still had a great time. there was a different kind of energy about it and I would do it again.
The joys of a live performance! :D That feeling before you do on stage is something you can't compare or replace! Its not belly dance, but I was in a production of a play. It was The Nightingale, I had a pretty big part and at one time it was me, surrounded by kids in animal costumes (think Disney) and one other person. Spot light, massive stage, huge crowed and....he forgot his lines. I had to adlib for about three minuets! It was hilarious! Terrifying but hilarious :lol: But what made it esspecially amusing was they all thought I had forgotten my line because I covered for him :rolleyes::lol: Only time its happened to me, thankfully, and I have never forgotten my lines either (its my greatest fear!!) But being on stage brings such a buzz.

I love live performances. Doing them too, well, esspecially doing them! I think I would deffinatly do it for belly dance. Perhaps not on the street like busking, I have no problem with people doing it, but I don't know why but it would make me feel uncomfortable. But I would at shows and such.
 

LadyFatima

New member
Wow, it sounds like there are a lot of pros and cons when it comes to street performing for belly dancers!:shok:

I know a lot of the responses you guys had about sucky weather conditions, crappy surface conditions, rude people, kids in the way, etc; had me kind of worried. . .but your words won't scare me!!:naghty: (Well, not completely anyway. . .LOL)

I live in a suburb just south of Chicago (one of those smaller towns where everyone knows everyone else) and during the summer we have a lot of festivals just before school starts back, and I'm thinking that I just might volunteer as a street performer this year. . .:think: My family and I have been to these festivals a couple of times, and I've seen some street perfomers there, but never belly dancer. They usually have other types of dancers, maybe some magicians, or sometimes there'll be someone playing a sax or a guitar, stuff like that. . .

Even if I DO end up being disappointed with it, I at least want to be able to say I gave it a shot, you know? And even as I'm typing this, I can picture it EXACTLY as it would happen:

My mom will be standing nearby, videotaping the whole thing while waving at me (I just know it. . .:rolleyes:) And my younger sister is really popular so I can probably convince her and some of her girlfriends to take turns dancing with me (to help drum up an audience) and then my dad will be pacing around nearby acting as my bodyguard/security,trying to blend in with the crowd (although he's 6''6', so he's not that hard to spot:lol:)

And even if I don't get a huge crowd of people to watch me, or even make a lot of tips, I still like the idea of me dancing in public while staying in my own little world the whole time:dance: I still consider myself a bit of a newbie (or a "novice in training" if you will) and for me, if I'm belly dancing outside in a public performace,trying my hardest and doing my best, and I can even get just a handful of people to look at me for 10 seconds as they're walking by. . .I'm totally happy with that:cool:
 
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