Confrontation and Belly Dance.
We all dislike it. And when it comes to dealing with it in our art form, We like it even less.
This dislike is the precise reason why some dancers have business managers, scheduling dancers
, and the like. They handle all of these types of things for you and sometimes even go to the gig with you to deal with the on-site situations. I myself have had my honey step in when an overzealous musician wouldn’t stop blowing up my phone!
Confrontations come in all shapes and sizes: other professionals, owners, clients, waitstaff, and more. I’ve compiled a few scenarios from recent social media posts and am presenting them here. (with permission). So let’s dive in, shall we?
The owner or waitstaff takes your tips (this scenario has been posted with her permission and edited to hide identifying information)
“At the end of my “dance shift” last week, the owner said a table left me $40 for an extra tip and that he would pay me next week because he didn’t have enough cash. (Assuming they paid with card and added extra to the bill for me.) So he paid me for my shift and then said he would pay me the tip next week.
Yesterday I received an email from the lady thanking me again for the show and saying she would contact me if she holds a private party, then asked if I got the $100 tip she left for the owner to give me! I saved face by telling her the owner was going to pay me in cash next week, but how do I confront the owner regarding the difference? Do I owe him a commission on such a generous tip?”
No. No and more no. I am first of all appalled that this even occurred and thank goodness the customer contacted you separately! Definitely talk to the owner about the situation. You don’t have to yell at him or demand your money but be firm. Let him know that the customer contacted you and that the tip was 100. If he tries to say he deserves a commission you can tell him that that is not a part of your agreement, tips are not shared with the house. If he attempts to make the credit card part of it a fee, tell him that you will graciously allow for the 2% processing fee charged by the credit card company.
You perform at a lovely banquet hall to a packed house. Money showers abound! As you perform and you look around, there are kids taking your tips off the floor. how nice! they are cleaning them up for you. wait.. no.. they are taking them to their table and pocketing it. . what do you do? (Dancer contributed, posted with permission)
I have luckily never experienced this. I have had Greek events where the kids have fun gathering up all the money but it is usually either given to me by them OR their parents give it to me. It is always understood that the money goes to the dancer but it could be a cultural thing. I have heard of situations in other cultures where even though the money is thrown on the dancers it is actually for the bride and groom. It was related to me before the event occurred and they arranged to have a vase for guests to put money into as a tip that they knew was going directly to me. The money showers were great though!
Back to the issue at hand, as long as I was being paid well and my going rate. I would let it go. To me, tips are always a bonus and something to “make it rain” with when I get home. However, if there is no cultural reason for that to happen; the tips are yours.
I would say something to the client. It would be up to them to take care of it. You don’t need to yell but when you receive your payment for the evening, you could say something to the affect of “Are the tips from the guests included in the check? I’m surprised you already had time to count them all!” or “Thanks for including those tips, it would’ve been a lot to carry.” that can help you open the conversation to the fact that there were tips, and they were taken. Or “Please say thank you to the kids who picked up all those tips for me, did they let you know where they left them for me?”
In THAT way you are presenting yourself as the innocent party. maintaining your cool, and you won’t offend them by asking directly or outright. Even in business, people seem to have a hard time talking about money.
The amount you were paid is not the one that was agreed upon.
All the details were already worked out in advance so once you dance at a fabulous party, you are paid and you head out to your car. Once you get to your car, you realize that the amount that you were paid was not what was agreed upon. (You may notice this earlier but I always count the money in the car, not in front of the client or guests) What do you do?
There are a couple of ways to handle it. You can shoot them a text from your car, or call them. If they don’t pick up or if you know they probably can’t hear you, go back in. (In your cover up.) Find your client and say ” I’m so sorry, I think you miss-wrote my check, or miscounted, new bills get stuck together all the time. it was ____ not____.”
I have had this happen once and the client was more than happy to adjust the amount. They had indeed counted incorrectly and thought they gave me more than they had. I can almost guarantee you that trying to get the amount the next day won’t happen. Once you have rendered services,it is much harder to argue after the fact with a one time party gig. If you have a contract with them then perhaps you can use that to plead your case. You will save yourself a lot of strife than if you just take care of it that day. Just remember, you are worth it and you deserve to be paid the amount agreed upon.
The owner cancels the show after you’ve already arrived/on your way there.
You’ve got your lashes on, your costume ready, music picked out, and you are on your way!
And the owner texts or calls to cancel your show.
Contract, Contract, Contract. I cannot stress this enough. it helps if you have a scheduling dancer that has worked this out for everyone and can help enforce but even then a contract is a great idea. it usually takes a few revisions but it can save you. and make sure they sign it, you can even sign it to show them it’s a business agreement and you’re not trying to take them for a ride. make sure that i tnot only states what you get but what they get as well. if you are both protected then it is a much easier sell.
If you have any additional advice to lend or scenarios of your own, please feel free to comment below!