Friday, July 31, 2009

Any minute now, belly dance will eat itself

Uh oh. I ranted.
n the 80s there weren't DVDs, videos were still new things, restaurant and bar owners still paid for musicians or DJs because there weren't the MUCH cheaper options of the electronic jukebox type technology that today replaces band, DJ, lighting technician and even chooses and supplies the music for you from changing top 40 lists. We were into pomo consumer culture but compared to now, it seems like laughably naive, sweet and artisanal times. Things did not happen as fast or change as fast. Belly dance was business but not the business it is now.

Belly dance now occupies a global consumer culture *of belly dance*. It's not about being the entertaining dancer any more. It's about students, workshops, costume sales, CDs, performance DVDs, training DVDs, festivals, weeklongs, intensives, showcases, haflas. When I started 11 years ago, in a very different milieu to Aus, you saved your pennies to buy music, zills and maybe a coin scarf or a cane at *one* annual festival. Today, it's overload. It's this style, that style, new style, fusion style, combos, drilling, new moves, drilling, technical differentiation, be new, be daring, break the mould, stand out, imitate, use this prop, that prop, all those props, new props, buy it, sell it, lose weight, emulate, drill, drill, go, go, compete, compete, beat, smash KILL your audience to keep your head above water, just to survive, just to be considered a belly dancer.

Any minute now, belly dance will eat itself.

It's exhausting. There's no pleasure in it, not unless you're a masochist or a capitalist (or analysing it, but sometimes that makes me as angry and frustrated as I am intrigued.)

1 comment:

  1. Oh, that sounds very familiar, says the woman who is about to launch into a weekend of workshops and shows.

    Actually, it gives me something to think about. I've realized lately I feel bad about myself because I/my troupe have not sponsered any events or workshops or other things. And that's such an unproductive way to think about things. Wait, no, it's just stupid. I don't have to be a bellydancer over achiever. I can just dance and have fun. Why is it so hard to remember that?