Monday, November 14, 2011

The Magical Belly Dance Era of the 1970s

I believe that I was truly blessed to have started belly dancing in the 1970s.  It was a special decade for the dance.  Ask anyone that took lessons and performed or taught during that time. It was a golden era!

The 1970s belly dance era was post-hippie, but we still had a bit of that free spirit in us.  It was all about American Cabaret belly dance.  There was no other type of belly dancing at that time. Big chiffon 7 panel skirts, often times made of Persian lace.  A chiffon veil, coin and/ or beaded bra and belt.  Most us made our own costumes or had them made for us.  My first teacher made extra money by making costumes. No imported costumes from Egypt or Turkey.  Can you even imagine that?

I look back at pictures of me in those costumes. Some were rather simple, but I did save up the money to have a coin bra and belt made. Most of us only had 1 or 2 costumes.

And the music!  It was wonderful, it spoke to you!  No CDs back then, or downloaded music, it was all on albums.  There was no 1000s of titles to choose from;  record releases were few and far between.  It was Eddie the Sheik, George Abdo as well as others. We couldn't wait for the next record to come out.  And boy did we wear those records out!

I took belly dance classes at least once a week, sometimes from more than 1 teacher. It was the highlight of my week when I would drive up to Hollywood after work to take lessons from Marie Silva who owned a belly dance studio - a rare thing then.

Once in awhile some of us dancers would get together and go to one of the Arabic clubs/restaurants. I remember going to Haji Baba's and Ali Baba's and Abu Nawa (sp?).  I remember going to see Bal Anat,   featuring a young Suhaila, who came down from San Francisco at one of the clubs in Hollywood one Saturday night.

I think we cherished and appreciated the small thing more back then.  Probably because we were not inundated with "stuff" every minute of the day.  Life was more simple back then, at least compared to today. And maybe that's also what made it more special too.

I'll write more about the 1970s in future posts. It was so much fun!

Leave your 1970s experience in the comments section.

Yes, this is me circa 1977. Can't believe I was wearing glasses.
Suzy Evans  The International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance


Nargis Coors said...

I yearn for more of these stories for inspiration to keep a little of the past going on in todays dance even in this hectic period time we are living in.

Habiba Dance said...

Can't wait to hear more tales of the 70s, great stuff!

sandy said...

Belly dancing helps keep fitness and it's also good for our health.When women are dancing,they look comfortable and with great confidence.I intend to have a belly dancing class and learn it.Wonderful!