As professional bellydancers we have all been in these types of situations. I am going to write a couple of these in the next few weeks in an attempt to help other dancers handle these situations. Also, I hope that it will become an online resource when we hit google looking for support!

Scenario: Dancer starts working at the local hookah bar. Dancer gets great audience participation and tips. After performing, the dancer is hit on by the owner or a patron. What should she do? How should she react?

Here are 4 tips:

  1. Don’t Lose Your Cool!  I know, I know easier said than done. Especially depending on the manner in which you were hit on. Usually the more vulgar it is, the hard it is not to slap someone! Just take a deep breathe, relax and plan your statements carefully.

  2. Think About Outsiders Perceptions.  Again, another one where you’d think, but Amartia why should I care what those around me think? Don’t they know this guy is being a creep? The answer? No, they don’t. All they may see is someone asking you a question and you yelling, slapping them or throwing a drink in their face. They will only see the dancer who yelled at someone. Most won’t bother to ask you about what happened. And, unfortunately, usually it’s the offender they ask who will paint a different picture of the scene than you will. However you choose to react remember, you are a professional!

  3. Say No At Least Once.  Make sure that you say no. Even someone reading lips knows what that looks like. Don’t giggle or smile, just say no, flat out. Be firm. Any smiling or giggling can be misread and thought that you are just being coy or playing around. If they have gotten a little close to you, lean back or move back while saying no. If you want to put a palm out in the universal symbol of stop, then please do. Again, this is up to your judgement of the situation.
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  4. Remove Yourself. Leave the bar, go to the bathroom, go back to the office ( if it’s not the owner) and lock the door. If you take yourself out of the situation, then you can remove yourself from harm and also calm your temper. These moments are usually when I text a friend and let them know what happened. Or perhaps you have a friend who is there to watch you dance, let them know via text to come to you.

I know these may seem like simple things but in the heat of the moment, they are easy to forget. Also, they are just the start.

I hope that other dancers will chime in with their experiences in the comments so we can have a great dialogue and resource for how to handle these instances. And I hope you enjoy this series, there is more to come!