Friday, November 20, 2009

Raqas al-Beladi

رقص البلدي

A little piece of history:

The origin of the term belly dance comes from the Arabic term: Raqas al-Beladi which means "dance of my country." Westerners, sadly, have taken that phrase and mushed it up to be beladi dance, which then morphed into belly dance. Hollywood got it's filthy paws on it, it became westernized, glamorized, and is now looked down upon by most conservative folk. I have taken it upon myself to reverse the trend, support Arab culture, and promulgate the beauty (and intense fun) that is...

The Belly Dance.

It all began in a Persian restaurant called Sholeh in Los Angeles. I was a missionary with only a few weeks remaining before the end of my mission. My Persian friend took us out to dinner and was humiliated when suddenly, the lights dimmed, and the delicate clamor of finger-symbols could be heard in the distance... I turned to see a woman clad in gold (though scantily) perform an amzing belly dance routine. I'd never seen a belly dancer before, and although she was the type of belly dancer that many of us would disapprove of (including our poor friend that had brought us there... she really felt like she was corrupting our missionary minds) I could help but be impressed. I didn't know people could move like that, and I determined right then and there that I would learn how.

I started that night in my apartment, trying moves I could remember, but it was so hard. I decided to wait till I got home.

I got home. I went to the public library and found a DVD, it was a weird DVD. It was a workout / tribal fusion / belly dance dvd... not exactly what I was looking for, but it was all they had. Not a huge selection... Imagine that.

I practiced every day throughout the summer, and I found it to be so stress-relieving, such a good work out, and a really good excuse to listen to my collection of Persian songs all day.

I went to the middle east, where I learned that belly dancing's origins lie in Egypt. There are even carvings of some of the first belly dancers on some of the walls of the ancient Luxor Temple, as seen below...

(photographed by me)
and here they are up close:
It was here that I also found out that belly dancing is one of the highest paid professions in Egypt, and Egypt is very proud of it's heritage. Our tour guide talked a lot about belly dancing, telling us that everyone in Egypt belly dances: men, women, children and even grandmas. You don't need to show your belly, or any skin at all for that matter. He said his little three-year-old daughter is already learning how. (One day I will teach my babies).

If anything, this intensified my desire to learn.

A) I wanted to assimilate more and more into arab culture, and
B) I could make some seriously good money...

One of the highlights of my time in the Holy Land, and even in my life, I dare say, was the night before we hiked Mount Sinai.
I belly danced around a fire by a beduin tent.

It was so amazing. Probably a once in a life-time experience... well, actually, not if I can help it.

I stocked up on jangles and bangles and sorts of lovely things in Egypt, as I knew I'd need them one day, and I am certainly glad I did...



  1. your text is a difficult-to-see color

  2. your text is an invisible to see color.
    and so i highlighted it.

  3. Yes, I highlighted it so I could read it too. But I loved this post. GO you! What an awesome pursuit! I love that you aren't afraid to go after what you want, even though its not a main stream idea. awesome.

  4. i'm not sure what kind of lame computers they all have, but i can see your font just fine... maybe you already changed it?
    i have some pictures of your concert i should send you. belly dancing is pretty rad.