Tips For New Restaurant Dancers

I base my articles on my own experiences as a previous belly dance student, A current community belly dance leader and a professional performer. The articles are meant as a guide to help belly dancing students , Semi pro's and performers. Take from them what you will and enjoy. - Copyrighted please ask permission to use.

Tips For New Restaurant Belly Dancers - part one

So you have trained in Belly dance for several years. With or without your teachers help you have stepped up your game, Practiced your dance routines, Got a spectacular costume and even bagged yourself that restaurant gig. All good right?
Maybe...but before you step into the limelight take some tips from an experienced all round Belly dancer.

1. Always remember that a restaurant gig is not about you or how well you can dance. It is about the customers having a great night. The manager of the restaurant has hired you to do a job well. So do the job you are paid to do and try to do your best.

2. Entertainment is one of the main reasons a belly dancer is hired to dance at a restaurant. You are there to make a spectacle, have people up to dance and have fun. This does not mean it is okay to have poor technique. Have a good dance technique and add entertainment. Please remember that most restaurants will be common establishments wanting you to focus on having customers up to dance however there are some more up market restaurants who want nothing but a classy polished performance. Make sure you ask questions to find out what the restaurant is expecting from you. If you feel overwhelmed and worried that you may not fit what they want, pass the job onto a more experienced dancer or a dancer who specialises in what the restaurant is looking for.

3. Some experienced dancers turn down restaurant work for many reasons but if you are one of the few students, Semi pro's or newbie professional's who are lucky enough to bag your self a regular gig respect that work as if you would any other job. Wear a nice costume, Make-up and shoes, Practice your dancing and entertainment skills. It pays the bills after all and the manager will probably have quite a few skilled dancers to choose from. Most experienced students start out as semi professionals working at restaurants. This can be a great opportunity to gain priceless experience performing at a live setting for real paying guests.

4. Never Never Never Undercut other dancers full stop! Whether fellow students, Teachers, Friends, Rivals, Competitors. Have dignity and know your worth and be hired for your skill as a restaurant dancer. Once a dancer undercuts and gets work she brings down the price of the industry and sabatauges the hard work other dancers have done to gain a fare wage and respect for what we do. The only exeption is lowering your price if you are hired regularly for X amount of weeks. For instance you are booked for a Saturday evening 8.00pm -8.30pm every week for 12 weeks. Instead of charging your usual £60 per gig you charge at a discounted weekly rate of £50 instead. We are professionals let's act professional. - If you are unsure of the local going rate in your area just call other local dancers who advertise their contact details publically. Be honest and ask questions to get answers to what you need to know. You will earn respect by approaching those in the Know.

5. Be self aware. Take care and be safe.Always conduct your self with class,self respect and dignity. This means you should not flirt or exchange numbers with people you fancy, don't sit round socialising. Always cover your modesty and try not to over sexualize your self or your dancing.Always wear adequate undergarments and don't flash parts of your body associated with sex. A pretty girl in a revealing costume is enough to gain attention and the truth is sometimes it can be negative attention whether from an admirer, an abusive man or a jelous women. Don't give away your personal information and don't allow restaurant managers to join in on abuse or pimp you out to the table of randy old Men. You are an independent Women striving for success so start off on the right foot.  Try to take a chaperone with you. A boyfriend, Husband, Brother,Mother, Sister, Friend or even a shadowing student. If you can't get a chaperone and you don't drive, Try to get booked taxi's, You may be able to add travel costs on top of your booking price. Make sure you tell someone your plans and leave phone numbers. It's not a very good idea to travel by bus or train unless you know your route, You have a chaperone and you know you are safe and will not be followed. However sometimes we have no option if this is the case make sure you are safe.

6. When doing participation approach Children, Women and Men of all ages. Children make great dance partners and Women and Men love to get involved for fun. We try to portray our art as beautiful, Graceful and family friendly so get everyone involved, be personable approachable and have a longer shelf life as a belly dancer. I tend to leave couples to their evening unless they look they are in the mood for dancing.

7. Have a plan but be prepared to improvise.  Start your set with a performance to uplifting music. Mid way through start the participation. Approach people who look friendly and ask them up to dance. Never make your self look desperate tugging Peoples arms forcing them up. You may get the odd night where the venue is quiet or that nobody feels like dancing...that's okay just keep dancing.

8. Choose the right music. Always make sure the music is upbeat and uplifting. There are many classic tracks and modern tracks that work well in a restaurant setting.

9. Agree with the manager on a price, A date and a specific time. Do not let the manager dictate to you. If you have agreed on a time be assertive and tell him you have another gig to go to after your set and you can not hang around all night. If he doesn't pay what you agreed upon be sure to let other dancers in the community know and never work for him again.

10. Sometimes you may wish to take quality garments to the restaurant with you. Garments such as hip belts or veils and props for customers to use. Word of warning dont take your quality expensive things with you they may get stained broken or even stolen. Invest in end of roll fabric, Gold and silver coins, Tassle fringing and sequins. I make inexpensive hip belts and veils for all to use. I make them for less than thirty pence each. If they get ruined, damaged or stolen I don't loose out. *I will soon write a blog post with a tutorial on how to make easy & cheap hip belts and veils.