'Sharif' in hieroglyphs

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to questions, both spoken and unspoken, that I have heard about my pastime. Feel free to ask me more questions!

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?: Why did you take up belly dancing?
->  I have always loved dancing; I tend to show off a bit when I am on the dancefloor in a disco setting too.
->  I like playing dress-up - for me Halloween is the most fun event on the calendar!
->  I wanted to challenge the gender roles involved in this style of dancing.
->  Perhaps I am a sucker for attention...

?: Isn't belly dancing a women's thing?
->  It is true that most belly dancers are women, but that is a historical quirk. Middle-eastern dance, the root of belly dance, is done by men, women and children. But until recently the theatrical form of this dance form has been stylized and shaped towards women.

?: Isn't belly dancing a lot like stripping?
-> Absolutely not! It is true that belly dancers often wear quite revealing costumes (just to show off their nice moves, mind you). But in general, apart from the occasional veil, we keep on what we are wearing. Belly dance performances are suitable and recommended for all ages.

?: Are you gay?
-> No, I'm not. Why do you ask?! Sorry guys, keep looking! I'm sure that all the people around me know that I really like women. And my girlfriend of 20+ years would be very surprised to learn I was gay...

?: Do you perform in women's clothes?
-> Not if I can help it! Although I enjoy dressing up, and have dressed up as a female on a different occasion, it is not the image I want to bring across.

?: Are there any other men performing belly dance?
-> There are many men learning and performing belly dance, but there are a whole lot more women. It's perhaps a 500 to 1 ratio.

?: Isn't this against the culture where belly dance came from?
-> Historically men and women have danced in the Middle East to varying degrees, depending on time period and location. Currently men in that part of the world use the same kind of moves when dancing in a disco, I have heard from eyewitnesses.

?: Do women like to see a guy dance?
-> Depends if he is any good Smile. Yes, most women do, and some even find it sexy.

?: Do men like to see a guy dance?
-> Most men feel a bit awkward watching a guy dance, especially in our rather macho culture. An open mind really helps. We're not that different in body shapes, we all have arms and legs, a torso and a head... This is very much a cultural thing. In ancient Greece and Italy the human body was revered as an object of beauty - the MALE body, that is, the female body was much less treasured. Remember all those male statues?

?: Do women accept guys in belly dance class?
-> If they are serious about learning to dance, yes. I guess you can say that anyone who keeps coming to class for more than a month must be serious about it.

?: What style of belly dancing do you like best?
-> Choosing between Folkloric, Tribal, Gypsy and Cabaret I definitely prefer Cabaret. That's what I aim for in my own dance too. I also like show dance and will incorporate some of that in my performances too.

?: What do you want to accomplish with your dance?
-> Express myself;
-> Entertain others;
-> Dispel the idea that men are not worth looking at;
-> Have fun!

?: Is belly dancing good for your health?
-> It definitely helps your flexibility and it tones some muscles that you wouldn't exercise much with weights. It has made me very aware of my (poor) posture and helped improve that, much more than years of yoga have done for me.

?: Is belly dancing good exercise?
-> There are much better ways to get in shape or lose weight if that is your goal. Belly dance does not get your heart rate up enough to really get the fat-burning process going. I do think it helps to keep your weight in check, and it also motivates you to stay healthy!

?: Don't you need some fat on your belly for this dance?
-> No, that is not important at all. Belly dancers exist in all shapes, from rail thin to very overweight. Excess fat tends to jiggle nicely (?) during some moves, but it also hides other moves. It's really not a good idea to gain weight for dancing!

?: Do men dance differently from women?
-> Some men want to make every move very strong and masculine; others move exactly the same as women do. Most men have their own rules about what they think works best for men. As with women, everyone has his own style. You can read more on my belly dance style.

?: Why can't there be one thing that us women can keep to ourselves?
-> Well, in our western society we strive to eliminate gender discrimination. Suppose a theatre group playing Shakespeare decides to have all female roles filled by men, as was customary in that time. Don't you think women would be outraged? You can't have it both ways!

?: Are you the only guy in your class?
-> Yes, pretty much so. In about three years I haven't seen a single other guy stay for more than one or two lessons. It was a bit strange at first, but it doesn't bother me at all anymore. Of course the ladies will talk about me sometimes, I do stand out a bit in class. Whatever.

?: Don't all these women around you distract you?
-> Perhaps a bit (a saint I aint), but not really. I need my full attention on my dancing and following the teacher to not make a complete fool of myself! Even if you know a move well enough, there is always room for improvement. I guess everybody looks at the other dancers from time to time to see how the moves work on them and to learn from that.

?: Where did you get that veil?
-> I make them myself. No, I really don't have the time to make one for you, but I have instructions how to do it on this website.

?: Are you a heathen?
-> Yes, I am an agent of Satan, but my duties are largely ceremonial. Simply doing my part to antagonize the religious right! Just kidding, I'm an agnostic, but I don't practice it much...