Husbands versus Belly Dance

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The obvious assumption that every man or partner would automatically love the very fact that his wife is a belly dancer is a given…to a point.  In the beginning the glitz and glam of it all can be like a Hollywood Red Carpet affair. But when the bright lights fade away and the sound of drums disappear in the distance, reality sets in, and life as usual resumes. The husband versus belly dance seems to bear its fruit sometime after the 20th performance.

The preparation for every show and performance, solo or troupe is a marathon feat with Olympic gold aspirations. So in a way every time we dance in our minds, it can be like a diva on-demand performance. The ceremony in the preparation of each dancer can be called an archaic ritual from ancient times. We all have our routines down to the amount of timing it takes to prep and primp. This is the ultimate test for any husband. He either learns to stay out of the way or he gets run over multiple times, bare feet and all. Does it even occur to any of us what this ritual must look like from the outside or in this case a husband’s point of view?

When Daniel first realized that I had a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality before my shows, I think he was in denial about it. He could time my personality change to the minute and he would ask me, “Are you my wife or are you Leyla?”   I guess “Leyla” from what I’m told has this particular facial expression that answers back in a very pointed way. In my defense sometimes there is no need to answer back especially when a particular question is made in a “husband,” jest. But my point is, do we ever sit back, and take a look at this unusual aspect of belly dancing? I wonder what psychiatrists would say.

How many costumes are too many? I personally would do without food and camp out just so I could have the costume of my dreams. Thank goodness I’ve never had to do these things but the emotions of wanting and desiring that shiny, sparkly and glittery costume sometimes consumed me. Is there magic sewn into costumes that alters the mind and perception? I have gone to bed desiring a costume knowing it should be mine. I woke up knowing it should be mine. This is also a belly dance ritual of wanting something beyond the normal persons desires. Belly dancers take it to a whole new level!

Does the price tag ever enter our minds…well I personally think yes and no. To be honest the price of a costume never stopped me from buying it, if I really wanted it. This is another aspect of the husband versus belly dance that I don’t think men think about in the beginning. I know there are very conscientious women out there but I also know that when a costume says, “I’m yours,” it’s hard to pass it up. Its fun to hear dancers try to figure out how to buy a costume and deal with telling their husbands afterwards. It’s not like a dress you buy that your husband doesn’t know about and you stick it in the back of the closet.

You can’t just say, “Oh, this old thing, I’ve had this for a long time,” and say it with a straight face. For me the Pinocchio nose starts to happen if I fib, so I don’t even bother.

I did have a dance friend who actually was able to do this very deed. She was able to tell the belly dance costume fib with a straight face to her husband. We danced at the same nightclub together years ago and on one particular night after we did our sets; we sat down and relaxed with her husband and my ex-boyfriend. Her husband asked her about her costume because he said he had never seen it before. Hah…neither had I because it was the first time she had worn it! She looked at him and said, “I have so many costumes honey, you don’t remember them all.” He agreed and that was the end of that. I was envious from that moment on and dreamt of various ways I could slip in a costume here and there into my closet. I must have had that dreamy look on my face because my ex-boyfriend gave me that, “Don’t think about it,” look. Besides he knew every costume I had because he bought them all. Obviously buying costumes can be another area of conflict where the adage of the husband versus belly dance kindles a flame already set into motion.

Drama, drama, drama! Did I say drama? Okay, I’m being facetious here but obviously this is where men draw the line. This is definitely the men are from Mars, women are from Venus difference. Men can actually handle hearing the issue once, maybe twice but three times is pushing it. We on the other hand, take the issue, turn it upside down, inside out and pull it apart to see what’s inside. Men let it be and move on. I think I like the Mars version better and Daniel has helped me understand this methodology.

But I have to add in something,  a problem that most women who are in this business, especially if they own a studio, produce a show or perform regularly at nightclubs or restaurants have had to endure. It’s a bullseye problem called “Darts.” In this business we deal with the precision and accuracy of skilled markswomen. Invisible daggers thrown can occasionally hit a husband in the back and they can get a small taste of what we have to put up with. Most husbands eventually find they have to develop a ducking maneuver. It’s that or be caught off guard. Daniel experienced this last year with the chat room incident but like most men, he was over and done with it in a day. Moving on is good medicine and it really does the soul good to let go sooner rather then later.

A good way to see how belly dance affects relationships, is to see students progress in their dancing months after they take classes from you. Once the performing bug hits, things change, primarily the order of former priorities. I have seen divorces happen, not so much because of the dancing but because of self evaluation and acceptance. Women blossom in dance and this can be hard to see if a husband or loved one is not part of the blossoming process. Belly Dance can become threatening and looked at as a rival. Most women can handle the two but sometimes the two butt heads and choices have to be made. I have watched my students make difficult decisions plus I have had to make a few of my own.

This dance seems to be an individual quest that can make us self absorbed by default. Creating choreography from an isolated vantage point can be our Achilles heel. It can spread into relationships because dancers gain confidence and make decisions that they would never have made prior to belly dancing. It comes down to the fact that relationships dancers have, need to grow along with their new found confidence and choices. The important thing to remember is to make sure that our loved ones don’t feel like they are competing with our dancing. Daniel adds so much to my dance. He is apart of my moves and inspiration. He makes me want to dance!

I think Mars and Venus can live happily ever after even if Venus shakes her hips.

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About Leyla Najma
Lifelong professional Belly Dancer dedicated to providing "Belly Dance Instruction That Is Easy To Understand And Learn That Connects The Dots"

Comments

14 Responses to “Husbands versus Belly Dance”
  1. Belly Dance Husband says:

    Ok, so now at the end my eye’s are watering.

    • Leyla Najma says:

      If there is an award for belly dance husbands…….it would definitely go to you! Especially with all I have put you through!
      Belly Dancers wouldn’t be who they are without their loved ones supporting them. I’m just lucky I have your love and support!!

  2. allison flynn says:

    Ok so this is the third time I have tried to reply just me being stupid….

    Fantastic Article!! Love the Picture!

    When Jeremy and I first met he was mystified by my belly dancing and even mentioned so your a belly dancer. Once we were married and he actually so what I went through which affect him changed. He knows when to stay out of my way and in fact, while writing this early he was asking what I was doing and I told him what the blog was about ane what I was writing and he said on you mean when you turn into a b…..(smiling) . I am a different person when I am getting ready and I do have everything timed to the minute so when something happens or gets in my way it messes me up completely! He also knows when I stop being a wife and mom and become the performer, dancer, Najla.

    Daggers and Darts and Drama I call the 3 D\\\\\\\’s. We both have experianced this in the past year and Jeremy defintley deals with it much better then I. I will brood about it, pick it apart and so forth….Mars is much easier an with Jeremy\\\\\\\’s help I am slowly learning!

    Costumes can be a whole different article! I love costumes to me it is like going into a candy store! You know that giddy feelling you get? I have and would sacrafice something else just to get the costume of my dreams! I have a whole room dedicated to costumes and belly dance stuff! Yep, a whole room! In fact, just the other night Jeremy said, so I see the belly dance stuff is moving into our bedroom…I just looked at him smiled and said I know I am sorry.

    A few months ago I invited another dancer down to do a workshop and she brought some costumes she had this red one I fell in love with immediately and I must have had this look on my face that said, this costume will be mine, She had it marked 200 but it was marked out and when I asked her about it she said well how much do you have? I went to get my wallet and my stomach fell cause I only had 149.00 on me, as I was telling her how much I had, she winked and said, well, I guess its yours. I gave her the money picked up the costume and ran to the bathroom to put it on. Coming back out with the costume on I was so happy I think danced around in it for about 20 min. making sure everyone saw it!! Wow!:)

    When I got home I knew I could not pond it off like I have had it forever because one it was different from all the others that I own, plus, Jeremy knows every stitch of clothing I have, including costumes!!! So I was unpacking everything and I pulled it out and showed it to him I did not say one word. He spoke, new costume, cool.

    I have seen women transform after starting this dance and when i first started 3 out of 5 of us ended up divorcing our husbands. I happened to be one of the three. This dance has taught me that I am a strong women filled with self respect and allowing me to stand up for myself. It led me to where I am today finding the man of my dreams an the love of my life!! Jeremy, is the best!! He may not always agree but he is 110% always there for me! He has never missed a performance and goes to all the boring belly dance stuff, takes pictures, video whatever I ask he does not complain well very little. Lol! He is my inspiration and he pushes me when I need to be pushed he also pulls me back when I have gone overboard, which happens quite a bit!;)

    We have grown together because of belly dance and we are closer because of it! I love him and I am do grateful I have him in my life!!

    I do not know what I would do without him! Kudo\\\\\\\’s to our husbands they definitly need an award!!

    Lots of Hugs and Love,

    Allison

    • Leyla Najma says:

      Allison,
      I just knew you would be responding to this post…guess I know you in that belly dancer psychic kind of way!
      It would be great to get a few husband’s feedback so tell Jeremy if he wants to respond to this blog post, I would love it!

      Costumes, performances, training, drama and reality can make for a very unusual life. I think the men who marry or love belly dancers deep down inside are unique and special. It takes so much patience to help us get through it all so I just know all belly dance husbands have an automatic in through the Pearly Gates! And there are quite a few heading for Sainthood!

      As always thank you for sharing !
      Everyone’s story makes this post mean that much more!

      Hugs,
      Leyla

      • Allison Flynn says:

        Leyla,

        Ha, that is funny even many miles away from each other cant break that belly dancer psychic stuff! Lol! I will mention to my husband if he would like to post, but I doubt he will…I must say when the first night I met him I told him he was very unique and special…there was something about him!! Oh my gosh, the things I have put him through!!! He is an angel!!! The other thing that I did not talk about that goes along with the dance is the makeup! I have so much of it and he says you cannot possible use all of this and you do not need to! I have so much makeup I have even shared things with my girls that have been untouched!! Do you thing 5 large makeup cases full to the brim is too much?:)

        Nilay, Communication is sooo important and I make sure I involve my husband too! He watches me when I work choreographies and gives me feedback, he also does the same thing with my girls when we are rehearsing. He knows when I am off or my girls and he will tell us!

        Pat that is great! I will have to remeber that if my husband every questions me on how many hip scarves I need, but instead of using screw drivers I would put video games in its place, he is a video junkie! That is so sweet of your husband getting you roses!!! Great Job on nailling your performance!!

        Hey girls, we are lucky for having the best belly dance husbands out there!!!!

        Allison

        • Leyla Najma says:

          Now make-up should be another blog post because I have seen Halloween intense make up in way too many belly dance shows!
          There is a way to wear it and apply it. That would be a great video…hum, I think I might find someone to do that.
          But in all honesty, I love make-up so I don’t think a woman can ever have too much!
          The gals added wonderful stories and insight just like you so I thank all of you very much for adding to this post and making it even more interesting for readers! 🙂

          • allison says:

            Amen to that all of this! I have seen Halloween intense makeup too!!! I must say over the past 2 years I have leanred sooo much about makeup how to apply and so forth. In my other job I work in retail and I work with a retailer who has 4 different cosmetic counters. I am the stores visual manager but I have also have had the luxury of helping out in the cosmetic area. I can not tell you how much I have learned just being around these women and most of them have been working in cosmetics for as long as they can remember. One lady has actually trained me so during busy times I can step in and work with customers doing a full fledge make over! It is so much fun because I get to play in makeup and help other women feel beautiful!! In fact, sometimes a few of the women have asked me to help them out because of my experiance with stage makeup and we sometimes get girls in who are in dance recitals and need just a touch more makeup then normal. So I really have the best of both worlds and when I help out the women are always giving me stuff!

            All of the post have been fantastic!!!

          • Annette Gravem says:

            Actually, I saw an add for a make up video just for belly dancers recently, I think it was on adira.com. I don’t know if it is any good or not.

            I don’t dance professionally, but I do have the costume bug. I like to dress up for my exercise time an hour or two a day. However, I buy my own costumes, my husband does not pay for them at all. I guess I was a feminist before I was a belly dancer. We have always kept our finances separate, this is my thing not his. I don’t like feeling dependent on a man for anything nor do I like having to explain myself for how I spend my own money. I can’t imagine having to come up with a way to show him what I bought, other than “Look, honey, I have a new costume!!”

            We have been married for over twenty years now, and have survived kids, jobs, and retirement, so whatever we do it works for us. I have been dancing daily for about 1 1/2 years now, he is happy I found something new and active to do. I have a neuromuscular disorder, and he worries about me too much.

            Take care, Annette

          • Leyla Najma says:

            Thannks Annette, for sharing.

            I just mix what I make with my partner and we go from there.
            Costumes for professional dancers can run into hundreds and hundreds of dollars and in my nightclub and restaurant days I had over 10 that were expensive. Also I had a few Madam Ablas and Heckmas.

            The way I look at it is I am in a relationship and we share. I have never minded sharing what’s mine with my partners. We are all different which makes the world go round so congratulations on over 20 years!! May we all be as lucky as you and your husband!!

            Keep us posted on how your dancing is coming along too!!

            Hugs and Blessings,

            Leyla

  3. Nilay says:

    So, true… the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hide, running over anything especially when in rush. Demanding and expecting the demand to be fulfilled perfectly as asked…
    No costume, no veil, o prop and no make-up is ever enough… My advice to all is to make your own money. Be your own woman and buy your own stuff so not to let any controversy to happen. A piece os costume is very very very important. So, stop to think if it is more important to come between you and your relationship. If it is, then it is best to let that relationship go already. But if it is not, try to find the best way to suit the situation accordingly.
    I buy my own “things”, but allow him to comment and at times to bring myself to my own senses. Because all he tries to do for me is sensible protection which is much needed.
    Shining on the stge through dance is powerful. Keeping him a part of it depends on good communication and social skills. I never push my husband aside or forget he is even there when pampered and showered in compliments and attention. I always acknowledge to him and everyone that he is there with me. He is a part of it if he made it there because again let’s think about what he might have gone through till the end of that performance form the beginning of the preparations which none of the audience never see. If he made it there, he supported me one way or another in the end result.
    I go further to involve him in the process – at leats more than carrying the props and the makeup case and driving – by assigning him the role of being my stage director. He gives me feedback during my rehearsals since he is one of the audience and has seen just so many belly dance performances to know what looks look and what not.

    • Leyla Najma says:

      Hello Nilay,

      So glad you shared with us.
      Husbands are important and it looks like yours is very lucky to have you and visa versa!!
      It is very important to communicate! Communication says it all. Thanks for adding that.
      Looks like you two make a good belly dance match!

      Blessings,

      Leyla

  4. Leyla Najma says:

    Hello Gals……..Here’s a wonderful story about another wonderful belly dance husband!
    Thanks Pat for letting me share it with the girls!

    Great article,
    As I brought home another belt, my hubby looked at me with that “LOOK” and said, how many belts do you really need, I smiled and said, how many screw drives do YOU need?
    end of conversation!

    I’m lucky tho, my hubby will sit and read the news paper while I pop into this store or that, He’ll drive me hours away to do a performance, or take a workshop he is a dear, But I have to share with you this one paticular time.

    I was asked to do an improve performance in Phx, 3 hours away, My hubby thought it was going to be a regular “belly dance show”, ah no, it was all improv, with different types of music, not the standard belly dance ryhthms, he sat in the audience, watched the professional stage, lights, musicians, camera’s etc being set up,

    He knew I was the only dancer who did not meet with her musicians for any practice time, for this… None. Ziltch, I just knew it would be a viola, and a cajon, and around 5 minutes long..for each piece.

    He told me later that he thought that I bite off more than I could chew on this one, way out of my league, so he sneaked out and bought me a couple of roses to “comfort” me, aftewards.

    After my performance, he said he was blown away, never having seen me danced like that..
    He spent the rest of the evening bragging on me… to EVERYONE…lol

    love you articles
    keep dancing
    Pat
    Rajani

  5. Biodagar says:

    Love it. My man loves my dancing (I’m a fledgling dancer haha), but he loves it because it makes me happy.
    It helps that he’s a musician, and while I drag him to shows, he drags me to his as well. He puts up with my nights of dance; I put up with his nights jamming, recording, mixing.
    It’s a beautiful thing, to have two performers in the relationship. Not least because there’s a deep understanding of that “pre-show” preparation, mental or otherwise, that we both go through.

    • Leyla Najma says:

      That’s wonderful!
      Yes, you both know what it takes to prepare and what it takes to perform.
      I think two entertainers make a good match not just for the support because just imagine all that inspired inspiration coming from the both of you. Your home must be constantly full of inspired thought all the time…which means magic!!
      Thanks for sharing!!

      Blessings,

      Leyla