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The Best Arabic Belly Dancing

May 22, 2008
Arabic Belly Dancing in the Middle East

Westerners have a very skewed image of Arabic belly dancing. Because of its history on vaudeville stages and as a feature at burlesque shows, it developed a reputation of being risqu and extremely sexual in nature. However, nothing could be further from the truth

History of Arabic Belly Dancing

While no one is certain precisely when or where belly dancing originated, it is generally accepted that it was a dance used in religious worship and as a form of celebration. The dance is traditionally performed at weddings, birthdays and other joyous occasions.

Historically, it could not have been used as titillation because it was performed by women for other women only. If men wanted to see any sort of belly dancing, it was performed by other men. While this is no longer the case, generally speaking, Arabic belly dancing was a women's art form and the movements were passed down from mother to daughter.

Additionally, in the past, costuming for Arabic belly dancing was vastly different from what is seen today. The traditional costume involved layers of fabric and no bare skin. The movement was the important thing, as it was the movement of the body that caused the bouncing and flowing of the costume. It wasn't until later that the costumes became more revealing.

Belly Dancing Costumes

As has already been stated, costumes started out covering the entire body. Now, they don't, but are they truly as risqu as people claim them to be? It depends on where the costume comes from. In Egypt, there is still a taboo against dancers revealing their abdomen, so belly dancers there are required to wear costumes that keep them covered. As such, many dancers choose gowns over costumes with pieces. For those that use a bra and skirt, they also wear a skin-tone body suit so that they are within the rules of the law. Therefore, costumes in Egypt are not revealing at all.

In America, where belly dancing is a conglomeration of different styles, costumes are a mishmash of cultures. While bras are common, so are chopi tops and vests. For the lower half of the body, American dancers either wear layers of skirts or harem pants. Again, these costumes cover most of the body.

Turkey is home to the most adventuresome costumes. There bras and skirts are standard, and the skirts often have cutouts or are designed to show most of the leg. So are these the sexy Arabic belly dancing costumes? These are indeed the costumes that people refer to as risqu. However, upon closer examination, is it an accurate description? The costume consists of a bra and a skirt. This generally covers more than normal beachwear.

While in the middle east a bikini may indeed be considered scandalous, in the western world they generally are not. So why the bias against Arabic belly dancing and its costumes? It is a combination of two things. The first is ignorance of the history of belly dancing, and second could well be that belly dancing is empowering to women. It is time women took their strength back and embraced the feminine. Arabic belly dancing is rife with both, and as such, should be respected as the beautiful art form it is.
About the Author
Charlie Reese likes getting routine belly dancing lessons to his students. He also likes reading books on the psychic reading and lecturing people how to give psychic readings online.
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