Those of us who dance regularly at restaurants know how hectic the holidays can be. You have all of your holiday party events on top of your weekly gig. Restaurants are packed with patrons who are about to go shopping, who are taking a break from shopping; grabbing a bite when just coming into town, leaving town, the list is endless! So, why is this time important?

Bellydancers need to be aware that you can charge more for dancing at a restaurant on a holiday or for a holiday.  Just because it is a weekly gig, does not mean that your rate won’t change.  For instance, let’s say it’s New Year’s Eve and the restaurant is having an event. It falls on a Thursday and you normally dance on Fridays. They would like you to come in and perform. What do you do?

IF you are treating your bellydance as a business (and you should be) then it’s a holiday, so holiday pay. (If you are not, then please email me for a chat! I have a restaurant mentoring program that can get you to that goal!) How do you get holiday pay? Well, to get you started, here are 5 Steps to get a handle on holiday restaurant pay:

Step 1. Discuss Holidays in Advance.

Now, if the contract with the restaurant was put into place by the scheduling dancer, then this would be her responsibility. BUT if you are the one who puts it into place, then make sure you bring this up in advance. That way, when the holidays come up, you simply need to point to the clause in the contract.

Step 2. Be clear.

Be clear on what your rate is for the holidays. No business owner is going to take you seriously if you are wishy-washy on the details.  Know what you want going in and what holidays you would like more pay for. You can even choose this time to discuss rates for private parties that are held in the restaurant that may ask for your presence.

Step 3. Have a pricing Sheet.

This is kind of a follow-up to Step 2. Having a pricing sheet allows you to cover every situation that can occur. You can list the different types of events or holidays and what the pay is. You can have it broken down into number of sets. You could even go so far as to have additional fees for specialty props. For example: They would like you to perform on New Year’s Eve. Great. This is the rate: $X. If you would like to really make it pop, I could do a shemadan performance for an additional $Y.

Step 4. Be ready to defend- and don’t

I know, I know. It’s hard not to immediately rush to the defense of our art. To list how many years of training and workshops and what they cost. Not to mention our costumes, but don’t do that. If you start listing then you actually give the impression that you are not firm and confident in your pricing. A Rolex costs more than a Fossil watch. You don’t see their commercials listing why, do you?

Sometimes it is tempting to go the family angle. After all, you are taking time away from your family and friends, fighting traffic, possibly turning down other gigs to be there and make the event memorable. Shouldn’t they care? Sorry, they don’t. This is their business and they are thinking of their bottom line and their family, not about yours.

If you choose any angle, try the champagne angle combined with the business angle:  “ A  belly dancer is high class quality entertainment. I respect your business and perform here on a weekly basis for a discount. The holiday season is different for both of our businesses. Your restaurant is charging the patrons more for eating/ drinking here during New Year’s Eve. I too, as a bellydancer, am a business and I will be charging my customers more as well.”

If they argue, then you can take the stance that no one business is more important than another. You can also take this moment to address that you are still giving them a discount as a weekly gig BUT it’s more than your usual pay.

Step 5.  Be Willing to walk away

This is the toughest step. I am not saying, walk away from this restaurant gig. But be willing to walk away from dancing there on the holidays. Apologize and say that you are unable to perform for that rate in order to sustain your business. You wish them luck in finding entertainment for that evening. If you like, then you can give them the names of dancers who are professionals like you and will probably give them the same answer or allow them to contact the other dancers on the schedule who will all say the same thing. On an important night like New Year’s Eve, no business owner is going to take the chance on an unknown dancer who may lose them valuable business.

So my lovely bellydancers, please make sure to check your holiday pay this season, using the 5 steps above. If you have your own steps or tips to help out others, then feel free to comment with them below!