Belly dance, a Middle Eastern dance tradition, has been enjoying increasing popularity in the West since the 1960s. Many women enjoy engaging in belly dance both as an art form which explores femininity and as an excellent way to trim the body and the torso through exercise. For women who are new to belly dancing or just becoming interested in this unique style of dance, the necessary wardrobe and accoutrements can be a bit mystifying. Knowing what to wear for a class, the different clothing and accessories that are needed, and even understanding a bit about the history of belly dance can help women approach this new endeavour on the right footing. It can even be an advantage to have a concise understanding of how and where to purchase belly dancing clothes and accessories. With its many choices, the online auction site eBay makes it easy to find the necessary clothing and accessories that a woman may require for belly dancing.
A Brief History of Belly Dance
Belly dance originated in the Middle East, with the original dance forms performed by both men and women. Since then, however, the belly dance has become synonymous with the female form and is performed by women. There are several distinct schools of belly dance, including dances that come from Egypt, Turkey, and Lebanon.
Belly dance was first introduced to the West during the 18th and 19th centuries as the Romantic movement gained steam. Many Westerners became interested in art forms associated with the Ottoman Empire at the time, and belly dancers began to make their way into western entertainment, especially through exhibitions, fairs, and variety acts.
Belly Dance Today
In modern times, belly dancing has transitioned into an accessible dance for anyone and is even approached as a casual form of exercise by some. The belly dance tradition in the United Kingdom was originally heavily informed by the United States tradition which was imported during the 1960s. However, since then, teachers and supporters of belly dance in the U.K. have begun to develop their own distinct approach to this ancient art form. Many women in Britain today enjoy taking a weekly belly dance class as a way to explore their own sensuality or to simply stay in shape.
Belly Dancing Clothes and Accessories
Before beginning a belly dance class, women need to know what clothing and accessories they require, to properly engage in the class and this unique dance. Starting with the unique belt for belly dancing, the clothing for this art form may also include specific types of skirts, tops, and shoes.
Belly Dancing Belts
Belly dancing belts are sheer, scarf-like wraps that women wear at the hips as both a visual and sonic accent during belly dance. The wrap is affixed with small chimes or metal discs which allow a dancer to create a soft, pleasant, jingling sound during a dance. The movement of these discs also provides a visual sway that emphasises the movements and undulations of the hips.
Belly dancing belts are tied off at one hip. They are typically constructed from a gauze material and feature ornate trims in addition to the affixed chimes. Some belly dancing belts are constructed solely of connected metal elements, much like a large piece of jewelry.
Belly Dancing Skirts
While some belly dance belts are sold under the label of belly dance skirt, there are belly dance skirts specifically that vary from the belt design. Belly dance skirts are usually long, falling all the way to the ankles or just above. A "gypsy" style belly dance skirt can feature a series of stacked ruffles, giving a dancer a dramatic bit of volume when she spins or sways. Other belly dance skirts mimic the gauze-like structure of a belly dance belt and are affixed with ornate detailing in a similar theme, including small noise-making discs. Skirts of this type may have full slits up the sides of both legs, giving the dancer a way to subtly reveal her leg during a dance. Some other varieties can have a series of tassels instead of a solid skirt, enhancing the visual shimmy in the dance, while still others may integrate a belt piece with a longer skirt element.
Belly Dance Tops
Most belly dance tops involve a brassiere-like or halter structure, providing minimal coverage to the torso but giving a woman ample support for her chest. A belly dance top is typically decorated in the same theme as a belly dance belt or skirt and may be covered in metallic discs and ornate trim. The materials used in a belly dance top are often gauzy and sheer, and tassels may drape down from the bodice of the garment as well. Some are more solid and affixed with sequins throughout the area of the bodice, resembling a showgirl top. For dancers who want a bit more coverage, there are halter top versions available that cover more of the tummy. Yet another variety is a wrap top with sleeves, similar to a garment that might be found in flamenco dance. These tops feature long sleeves with draping and a wrap bodice that ties or wraps under the bust.
Belly Dance Pants
Belly dance pants are also popular and can provide a more modest way for a woman to dress for belly dance. Belly dance pants can feature a bell flare at the bottom, with the rest of the pant fitting snuggly and tight to the skin. Other belly dance pants come in a harem pant cut, billowing out from the waist and then tapering back in at the ankle. Harem style belly dance pants are usually constructed from a sheer gauze material, revealing the legs underneath. The top of a pair of belly dance pants can feature a decorative noise element, like a belly dance belt. Bell-bottom belly dance pants are often seen in tandem with the flamenco-style wrap tops, while harem pants are worn with the more ornate halter-style tops.
Belly Dance Shorts
Many women training in belly dance wear support garments that allow them to warm up to the revealing aspects of a belly dance costume or simply provide a more comfortable way to train. Belly dancing shorts are close-fitting, cropped shorts which provide a bit of coverage at the top of the thigh. These short pants are typically made of a cotton-lycra blend, allowing a good deal of stretch and movement. The shorts are ideal for classes, when a woman is still learning the basic movements of belly dance.
Belly Dance Shoes
Belly dance shoes are typically metallic-coloured slippers much like a ballet slipper in structure. These slip-on shoes feature a leather sole and are lightweight and flexible. Some dancers wear ornate sandals in performance, but for class and training purposes, a slipper is much more likely.
Shopping for Belly Dancing Clothes
Given the esoteric nature of belly dance clothing, shopping for these items at traditional retailers can be quite difficult. Certain dance shops or even fancy dress stores may have elements available, but by and large a complete belly dance ensemble is too specialised to find in mainstream retail. An easier and more direct way for women to access any one of these essential belly dance clothing items is via an online auction site such as eBay.
Buying Belly Dancing Clothes on eBay
The process of finding and buying belly dancing clothes on eBay begins as simply as running a search and looking through listings. You can find a search bar at any page on the site. By inserting a search term in this bar and hitting enter, you can pull up multiple listings related to belly dancing clothes. A general search such as one for "belly dance clothing&" can give you an overall idea of the types of items available on eBay. A specific search such as "sequin belly dance top&" can pull up relevant listings which can get you shopping right away.
When shopping on eBay, it is important to get a sense of the types of sellers you may be dealing with. You can do this by looking through past auctions to get an idea of their practices and stock. You can also look through the feedback a seller has received from other customers. You may also choose to only transact with eBay’s top-rated sellers for a higher degree of comfort during your buying experience.
Belly dancing is an intriguing fun and exciting dance form that more and more women are turning to in their quest for fitness. For women who have little experience with this historical dance, getting to understand a bit about the dress involved in belly dance can help transition them into a class. Items such as belly dance tops, skirts, belts, and shorts can aid a woman as she learns this lovely dance form. While offline traditional retailers may have some options for belly dance clothing and accessories, one may have less of a challenge in putting together a complete ensemble by shopping through eBay. The large catalogue of items available on eBay allows a woman to find any of these items in a variety of types and styles. By searching through listings and vetting her sellers, a woman can utilise eBay to quickly find just the items she needs to begin her journey with belly dance.