Belly Dance Etiquette

Belly Dance Etiquette
5 (100%) 4 votes

Belly Dance Etiquette at Shows for the Audience & Performers

Belly Dance Etiquette as an Audience Member:

  • Tipping is a typical way to show your appreciation of the dancer’s abilities. The audience usually tips as the performer dances up to the table during the last song. Fold a bill in half lengthwise and tuck it into the back or side of the dancer’s hip belt, in the arm band, or in the back of the bra strap. You should avoid tucking money into the front of the dancer’s costume. Also, you can come up to the stage and place a “money necklace,” bills connected together, over the dancer’s head, or throw money over the dancer’s head, called a “money shower.” However, you should know that the money from a “money shower” will often go to the band at the end of the show.
  • If you wish, zagareet to show appreciation. A zagareet is a high pitched trilling sound that is produced by rapidly moving the tongue and uvula. In Arab countries it is commonly used by women to express celebration.
  • Wait a couple of seconds before clapping to make sure the artist is finished.
  • Say only positive things about other performers when you are conversing at a show, as you never know who may overhear your conversation, especially in an audience. If you’re in the audience, you could be sitting next to someone’s husband/wife.
  • Be authentic when complimenting others. Find something that they did well that you can stand behind. (Compliment their costume style/color, arms, footwork, turns, choreography if it’s his/her own, technique, tell how it made you feel to watch him/her, etc…)
  • Purchase something, food and/or drink, if the show is at a restaurant or bar. Don’t just order water.
  • If something happens to the sound, like you can’t hear it, you may help out the artist by clapping to the music.
  • Feeling uncomfortable? Usually we feel this way when we don’t understand what we’re watching. Belly dancing is a dance art and belly dancing is all about “feeling” the music. It’s okay to look at the dancer! Observe how the dancer interprets the music; notice how the dancer responds to the various sounds, pitches, and tempos using the enitre body or isolating a body part. Belly dancing encorporates the entire body, just like any other dance form, not just the belly and hips. Watch the arms, wrists, and hands as they glide, strike and float with the music… watch the shoulder and chest movements. When you allow yourself to relax, you may find that the music and dancer evoke a particular feeling from within you. The more you understand, the more you can appreciate what you’re seeing.

Belly Dance Etiquette as a Performer:

  • If you’re in the show, you should do your best to come to the beginning and stay until the end, to support others who are also performing. In other words, don’t just show up for your own spot and/or leave after you have performed. Of course, sometimes we have other obligations that are important.
  • Make sure your costume fits properly. Use safety pins if necessary and make sure your costume wont reveal any parts that it shouldn’t. It’s usually a good idea to practice in your costume beforehand.
  • Wear a cover at all times when not performing or change into appropriate street clothing.
  • Wear stage make up and look your best.
  • If you have to practice or warm up backstage, do so quietly and without disrupting others, as much as possible. You should bring a headset so others can’t hear your music while practicing. If you absolutely must play your music aloud so more than one of you can hear (for a troupe), ask permission from those around you first.
  • Give credit to the choreographer. “Choreographed by…” Give credit when using choreography you learned from an instructional video, too. If someone helped you or coached you, it’s nice to give them thanks in your announcement but not required.
  • We all get nervous. Just be careful that overly nervous energy doesn’t affect others. Ex: Talking excessively… not noticing when others need quiet time…or continually announcing how nervous you are.
  • Keep talk minimal when speaking to someone who is just about to go onstage, especially if they are obviously trying to focus internally.
  • Give credit to the music artist, CD etc… Check copywright laws when using music, even music from CDs
  • When using music with lyrics in foreign languages, be sure you know the translation, so you can dance appropriately to the mood and lyrics. Some lyrics are inappropriate, too. The emotion expressed and felt is of extreme importance in Egyptian dance.
  • Be careful with hand gestures; some may be offensive to Middle Eastern cultures. It’s easy to unintentionally make a gesture that is inappropriate to another culture. Learn about the common mistakes belly dancers make.
  • Be prompt and have your music ready to go and labeled correctly
  • Don’t put out your own cards or flyers or make announcements for your events at someone else’s private event without pre-approval.
  • Perform at appropriate venues for your level. Appropriate student venues include amateur nights, haflas, recitals, and friends or family celebrations. Professional venues include, restaurants, nightclubs, parties, weddings, cultural events, often charity events or any venue that offers pay.
  • Charge appropriate professional rates for your area and avoid undercutting other dancers.
Belly Dancer, Mellilah, at Sahra Saeeda showcase in Philidelphia

Belly Dancer, Mellilah, at Sahra Saeeda showcase in Philidelphia

You may be interested in reading “How to Tip a Belly Dancer: Manners & Etiquette for the General Public.”

For more info about the author, Mellilah, please visit

About Mellilah Jamal

Mellilah teaches belly dance classes in Redmond and Bothell and performs for private parties and restaurants throughout Seattle.


  1. Thanks this is really helpful.

Leave a Comment

Follow on Feedly