I really enjoy dancing in Melbourne. In my 20s I used to live and dance in Scotland (random I know), but like many Australians I went to the UK for an adventure and didn't come back for many years. I'm now back and enjoying living in my hometown. Melbourne has a much higher population than Scotland and my weekends are therefore full of gigs. So this is my perspective on a typical evening of gigs for me.
I rarely dance in restaurants, and generally dance at private parties, weddings and corporate events. So a typical Saturday evening consists of 2-3 gigs. I sometimes get gigs on Fridays and Sundays but that varies from week to week. Melbourne is a very flat city and it takes a LONG time to get anywhere, so most of my night consists of driving in between gigs to be honest. If you hate driving, then don't be a professional bellydancer! :>
The most common event I dance at is a family private party for a 40th, 50th, 60th, 70th or even 80th birthday. I usually make a big surprise entrance with veil or isis wings, make a fuss of the birthday girl or boy and then get everyone up and dancing. This is usually for families of an Indian, Macedonian, Lebanese, Egyptian or Turkish background. I have been doing more christenings of late too and I have to say that they are super fun too.
I view my job quite simply as a 'party starter'.....so I pride myself on being able to persuade the most stubborn of people to get up and have a boogie. I have very specific memories of being traumatised as a kid by Bellydancers at restaurants. They would always embarrass me by dragging my Dad up to dance (he would obviously oblige!) and I would hide under the table to hide my mortification. So I try my best to not be one of those belly dancers that pressure family members to come up and dance. I have however figured out a range of other non embarrassing tactics to encourage people onto the dancefloor. They are less traumatic for everyone involved! :>
I never use zills. I find them loud and annoying (as a rule) and I only use them for corporate functions because that is the only time that they are requested. Isis wings are always a winner for a good entrance (space permitting) and I only use a sword when there aren't any inebriated folks around. Drunk men do love to try balancing a sword on their head. Sigh! Happens every time. :>
A typical set length is 15-20 minutes. Any longer than that and it is obvious that this is enough for most audiences. Unless the party is Arabic, Middle Eastern or Macedonian, I usually advise with sticking to this length. I danced for a Macedonian party last weekend for 40 minutes straight and they could probably have kept going. These parties are my favourite because everyone gets involved. I have kids following me around, sometimes a baby on my hip, and I dance with everyone at the party....no matter what their age and size. Good fun!
Aussies aren't big on tipping, and once again tipping only really occurs if they are Arabic, Macedonian or Turkish. Even then, tipping is pretty rare and I believe that tipping used to be much bigger in the Melbourne scene. So I definitely don't rely on tips and anything that comes my way is a bonus.
I usually arrive in full costume with a kaftan over my costume for a quick change. I generally have to drive 30-45 minutes or so in between each gig. So if it 3 gigs on a Saturday night then there is a lot of driving. I have to say that the driving is the most exhausting part of this job!
I modify my music set for every party and I've recently been more requests for specific songs. Anything that makes the birthday girl/boy happy. e.g. I've had Beyonce, some specific Bollywood tracks and even Pitbull! For (some) Egyptians I am getting Boshreit Kheir as a song request....for obvious reasons.
I am only ever asked to dance on a table for Macedonian parties......which was a strange request when I first was asked! But Macedonians seem to love it and they are one of the best groups to dance for. They love a good party!
I honestly love my job but belly dancing can be a very isolating. You are primarily gigging on your own so I absolutely LOVE it when I can bring along musicians or other dancers. This usually happens with the bigger corporate gigs or weddings. My favourite job is dancing with this bunch of guys (see piccie). This is the biggest (and best) zaffe group in town. These boys honestly crack me up. So whilst a zaffe performance isn't really about me at all, dancing in a zaffe group gives you a particular high that you don't get on your own. I love being surrounded by drums and helping make the Bride and Groom feel super special. It makes you feel like a rock star. We definitely put on an impressive show!
Christmas time / summer is the busiest and at this time of year I have gigs from Friday to Sunday night solid. Sometimes a random Christmas party during the week.
It's a fun job but it is physically and emotionally demanding. I love that I now have regular families who I now perform for. Everything from their hens parties, weddings to parties for their kids. I'd like to think that this shows that I am respectful to all family members. I definitely don't flirt with the men when I perform and I make a point of including women (especially Grandmas) when I dance. I think that helps quite a lot.
I hope you are enjoying this series on professional dancers around the world! If you enjoyed that, read about our other featured dancers:
Belly dance in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt - The Ruby Lady
Belly dance in Australia - Yasmin (me!)
Belly dance in India - Katie Holland
Belly dance in Cairo - Aleya
Belly dance in the UK - Tracey Gibbs
Belly dance in San Jose - Courtney
Join us soon for some more features! xxx
Melbourne Belly dance
Melbourne Belly dance. Professional Belly dancer in Melbourne, Australia. Book a Bellydancer for weddings, parties or corporate events. Private Belly dance classes in Melbourne.