is very popular in Turkey. Night
clubs are the most common venues, but
belly dancers are also hired göbek
atmak ("to toss
the belly-button") at weddings, circumcisions,
and even...trade shows!
Far from being a resuscitated
tourism show, this is a
very old art form still enjoyed by
Turks of all classes and ages. It
may be the descendant of ancient Anatolian fertility
The dancer is usually a woman with exceedingly
well-trained abdominal muscles,
and it doesn't hurt to be shapely.
She accompanies her moves with clangs
on small finger cymbals called zil (Turkish
for "cymbal" or "bell").
During the dance, appreciative observers stuff
paper money into the few,
scant recesses of her costume. She
dances close enough that they can
do that; and when she dances close
enough lots of men want to
So far as I know, belly dancers do
not yet accept credit
cards in this fashion.
For a less raucous and better-mannered
performance, go to the Hodjapasha
Arts & Culture Center in the Sirkeci
district of Istanbul for an evening of Turkish
traditional dances, including bellydance. More...
Belly dancing is not limited to women,
however. At any good Turkish belly
dance party, at least one brave
guy is bound to jump up and
throw some moves of his own. It's usually
difficult to judge his proficiency
because he's fully clothed (thank
In more Islamic-ly conservative countries
like Egypt, both men and women may
perform the dance, sometimes in pairs, fully
clothed except at exclusively
It's easy to see how belly dancing
could have been a fertility rite in
ancient times, particularly in a place
city of Aphrodite, Goddess
of Love, or at the Artemision (Temple
of Artemis) in Ephesus.
To buy belly dance costumes,
jewelry, videos, music and accessories,
check out Tulumba.com.
They'll ship purchases to you anywhere
in the world.
Here are two websites with video
clips of bellydancing:
— Johara and
—by Tom Brosnahan