Lately, I have been into producing shows as much as I have been into performing at them. My last creation, “Rock-A-Belly” went down at the internationally famous Café du Nord, in San Francisco.
Belly dance and rock music? Can the two really be combined without looking silly?
After “Rock-A-Belly”, the answer is a definite ‘yes’!
It’s easier to belly dance to rock music than you’d think. Everything is in an eight count, and the guitar solos are really just rock and roll versions of a taxeem. And the drums! Great way to get your shimmy on. And frankly, let’s admit it, there’s a reason so many strippers grind and get down to rock music; rock is sexy and fun and makes you want to dance! There’s a wild abandon that comes with rock music, which is so unlike the strict traditionalism that can come with classic styles of belly dance music.
I certainly let loose with wild abandon at the show. We opened with a belly dance set (sans bands), and all four dancers- Rasa Vitalia, Leah, Alodiah, and myself- had the crowd entranced by our own, unique styles. Yes, belly dance is diverse! It’s not all coin belts and sequins and bad Middle Eastern pop music. Especially in San Francisco.
I had only booked three bands for the night, but we somehow ended up with five. Deeva opened, but shared their set with Art in Heaven. Castles and Spain rocked the middle set. Ironically, there were no belly dancers in their set, and yet they were the only band that night who had a history of including belly dancers at their shows.
Our headliner was Electric Sister. Really sweet guys. So respectful to Alodiah and I during the rehearsals we went to. No sleaziness whatsoever. Until they got onstage. I knew they sometimes described their music as “LA stripper metal”, but I didn’t quite put two and two together. And really, it’s quite the challenge to belly dance to that kind of music, with the band guys acting like sleazy rock stars, while trying to maintain some sense of class.
Don’t get me wrong. I love, love, love sleazy rock and roll. And Electric Sister are great at what they do. It’s just a challenge to belly dance with them and not look like a stripper. Just one eight count of sloppy technique and I knew I’d be doomed!
Thank god, Alodiah and I had spent hours rehearsing our choreography. We could put those moves to any kind of music- rock, Middle Eastern, or otherwise- and we’d still look like professional belly dancers. Which was what I was going for: to show that belly dance is classy all on its own, regardless of what kind of music you put it to.
The night ended with a great surprise. One of my favorite bands, Triple Cobra, showed up to play a secret set after Electric Sister. Triple Cobra has a bit of a cult following, and their glam rock, make-up, and sparkles fit right in with the belly dance theme. Despite the differences between belly dance and rock culture, I’m glad to say that we can at least all get away with wearing sparkles on our faces.