Private Party Tips & Tricks for Belly Dancers

Private Party Tips & Tricks for Belly Dancers
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Wondering how to liven up your private parties? Need ways to make your guests feel more comfortable? Below are 10 of my tried and true private party tips & tricks that I either learned from experience or from my peers.

Most of the time, belly dancers are hired for someone’s birthday party, and occasionally for a bridal shower, wedding, anniversary, holiday, corporate or themed party. Depending on your clients’ needs, your shows can range from formal, in a ballroom setting, to an informal birthday party at someone’s home. The formality of the party, as well as the client’s needs and personal tastes, should influence your music and costume choices, as well as your level of interaction with the guests. However, most private parties need to be fun and upbeat. Be sure to listen to your client’s needs and ask the right questions to determine the expected “mood” of the party.

Private party tips for belly dancers

Mellilah at a private party.

  • Locate the women in your audience and give them most of your attention and eye contact. Women may feel shy or uncomfortable watching you. If they’re with their partner, they may experience feelings of jealousy or insecurity. Don’t give them anything to be jealous about and make them feel special by focusing on them. You may even want to flirt a little bit with the women in the room. This will send the message that you’re not here to pick up on their men but to entertain and have fun.
  • Present your sword to the guest of honor, motioning for them to pull the sheath off. Just be sure that you don’t do this in a sexual way. Leave them with the sheath as you continue to dance. At the end of your sword performance, return and have them assist in directing your sword back into its sheath.
  • Return to the guest of honor and invite him/her to join you in sword balancing by balancing the sheath on his/her head, while you continue to balance your sword. Just be careful the person is far from other guests and be ready to catch the sheath should it fall.
  • Wrap your veil around the bride and groom or anniversary couple, tying it loosely with a knot.
  • Use your veil as a turban for the guest of honor if it’s a male. This is a cheesy trick that’s great for those all-American parties. I would avoid using this trick at Arab parties, out of respect of the cultural differences and so you don’t offend anyone.
  • If the guest of honor is a female, wrap your veil around her hips.
Private party tips for belly dancers

…and when he’s already wearing a turban, wrap a veil around his hips!

  • While dancing in front of a table, make eye contact with the guests at an adjacent table. Because of our costuming and strong presence, people often feel uneasy having us perform so close to them. However, when you’re looking elsewhere, they feel safe to watch and enjoy.
  • During your drum solo or during a tip song, start clapping to encourage the guests to clap. This can help liven up a dead room.
  • Get the children up to dance! It’s usually easier to get children up to dance with you than adults and the parents at the party will love it.
  • Get the guest of honor up to dance! Offer your hand as you lead them onto the dance floor. A little bit of encouragement may be needed, but if they resist, move on. Find the loudest, most engaging guest in the room or the one who has been enthusiastically watching you the entire time with a big smile, and invite him or her up to dance. If this is a party for Arabs, then I would only invite the women up to dance with me due to cultural differences.
  • While a guest is up and dancing with you, take his/her seat, cross your legs, and start clapping for them! You may even want to use one of your dollar bills to tip them.  This works well if there’s only one guest dancing with you and when he/she is really into it.

Now I didn’t create all of these tips and tricks myself. Belly dancers share and learn from each other. You may have a great tip or trick to share? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

I’d also like to reach out and thank Elisa Gamal, one of my mentors of the past who taught me the ins and outs of private party dancing.

For more info about the author, Mellilah, please visit www.mellilah.com.

About Mellilah Jamal

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

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