Isn’t it funny how you have a chance meeting with someone and then later on you realize how much impact that chance meeting had?
The very first Belly Dance Workshop that I attended was magical. The instructor was Mahmoud Reda. It was my first time dancing in a workshop show, out of town. I was invited by Sahda Sabri. And I met so many wonderful dancers at that workshop including Zarifa Aradoon.
Back when I first started belly dancing, I quickly found out that belly dance would be quite expensive. There were dance music LPs to buy, dance lessons to pay for, babysitting & transportation, accessories like finger cymbals and later on tambourines, drums, canes, swords, etc. And certainly last but not least DANCE COSTUMES!
After I found out how expensive belly dance costumes were, I SWORE I would never, ever buy one! Ha, ha that resolution that didn’t last long.
The CHANCE meeting with Zarifa Aradoon at that “magical” workshop changed everything. I had a nice enough costume to perform in the show that night. But during the actual workshop that morning, I must have picked something very “tacky” looking. I was passing by the table where Zarifa was selling her book, The Belly Dance Costume Book, when she urged me to come over. I mean it was such an honor to meet her. And being so “cheap” I was hesitant about buying a copy of her book. But, I could sense that she thought my workshop outfit was tacky and could be improved upon, but she relayed that message in a a very nice way that wasn’t offensive to the least.
I am so glad I got her book. As far as belly dance costumes go, that changed everything going forward. With her book, I had the “secret” of how to make a beautiful dance costume, that was affordable because I made them myself.
When I first started belly dance classes, I wore just leotards and a regular skirt that could be danced in. My classmates started wearing costume pieces that I envied. There were few belly dance costume vendors back in the late 1970s (that I knew about anyway). So it was great when you went to workshops and found out how to get costumes via mail. There was no internet, so to speak back then, so no ordering via the web like we can do now. No email, so everything was done by getting a catalog and doing a mail (or phone order). I started out buying very, very CHEAP costume pieces. These were the SKIMPY skirts with tacky gold trim and few coins. But to make it less skimpy, I would order the full circle skirts from Yassmeen Samra’s Belly Dance Bazaar to wear under the skimpy skirt. Yassmeen’s Bazaar offered the full circle skirts, dance briefs, dance leotard tops, etc. I remember ordering the skimpy purple skirt w/gold trim and the purple full circle skirt from Yassmeen. I also ordered costumes in red and black as well and had matching leotards for the different colors for classes and workshops.
But after I got The Belly Dance Costume Book, I began making my own skirts, bras and belts. I started out making coin bra & belt sets, applying each coin individually; and then later on I developed a quicker method of applying the coins via rick rack & jump rings to speed up the time by sewing the rick rack via sewing machine. Later on, I got brave enough to make beaded bras & belts. Again, I started out applying individual beads directly to the bra & belt base. Then later on I developed a method to speed it up by attaching the beads to grosgrain trim and then sewing the trim to the bra & belt via sewing machine.
I was so inspired by The Belly Dance Costume Book that after I knew how to make my own costumes, I didn’t’ feel CHEAP anymore and started buying professional costumes from Cost Less Imports and other dancers who sold costumes and vendors who sold more expensive costumes. My costume collection has grown leaps and bounds from those initial skimpy skirts that were cheap.
After purchasing my first home back in 1996, I had to start making sure each house had enough room to house all of my costumes from 34 years in Belly Dance, including my professional costumes, the costumes I use for teaching and all of my dance troupe costumes, dance shoes, hip scarves, jewelry, not to mention the hundreds of belly dance LPs, cassettes, CDs, etc. My 2nd and current home had to have 2 different rooms just for belly dance stuff. One room for teaching that has the canes, swords, music, mirrors, and another room just for costumes with mirrors to dress up, shoes, jewelry, costume racks, etc.
My thanks to Zarifa Aradoon for showing how to make great costumes and being a Costume Goddess of Inspiration!
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I will be posting some of my original Dancer Tributes in WordPress, only the early ones that were in Twitter only, not WordPress. Back when I first starting posting the dancer tributes on Twitter I only had 2 subscribers. Now that I have more, I realized that a lot of people missed my early dancer tributes. But as I am reposting those, I will also keep adding new content for topics like Dance Choreography, new Dancer tributes, etc.
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What is your favorite dance costume idea by Zarifa Aradoon?