Sunday, December 27, 2009


The phenomenon of repeating trends and the cyclical nature of pop culture is such a given that we’re all familiar with the phrase “Everything Old Is New Again”. This applies to art, fashion, cinema and yes, even to the world of belly dance.

While the general public has always had a rather dated and archaic view of the art of belly dancing ( veiled dancers wearing jingling coin costumes with big skirts; women who turned their husbands into “sultans” with the drop of a hip and the wink of a heavily made-up eye) fashion trends in Arabic music and dance have moved light years beyond that tired old cliché.

Recently, cabaret-style oriental dancers have favored minimalist, fringe-free haute couture costumes , and those dancing in the realm of Fusion have taken vast liberties both stylistically, conceptually and in costume choices.

In the past few years Arabic dance music- Oriental , shaabi style or otherwise -has been almost thoroughly Westernized, utilizing everything from traditionally “western” instruments such as piano or synthesizers, to crazy samples to musical influences that include hip hop , Bollywood, Brazillian, Electronica, New Age, and on and on.

While all this is fun to dance to ( not to mention thrilling, experimental and modern) sometimes it seems as though it would be nice to go back to the elegance and simplicity of a by-gone age, a time that nobody dancing today has experienced. What I am referring to Egypt’s Golden Age of Belly Dance, which was the fertile, creative period spanning the early 1940’s to the late 1970’s.

The Golden Age produced a veritable galaxy of stars, and preserved their artistic contributions both in film and on audio recordings. We’re talking films like the classic black and white “Tamer Henna” starring Naima Akef to later movies like the sassy 1972 Suad Hosni vehicle “ Khalli Balak Min Zou Zou”, and many other films which featured radiant dancers such as Samia Gamal, Tahiyya Karioka ( her name is spelled many ways, phoentically) and towards the latter part of the time period, Soheir Zaki, FiFi Abdou, Nagwa Fouad, Nadia Gamal, and many others.

We still see their legacy today- many of them have signature steps or combinations named after them; all of them starred in numerous films as well as appearing live on stage, all over the world.

Some singers that became internationally famous during that era were Om Kalthoum, Asmahan, Fairuz, Sabah, and Ahmed Addewiyya; and their work still sounds as fresh and wonderful as the day it was recorded. The same rings true for composers of the day, many of whom also did double duty as singers as well as acting in the movies: Farid El Atrache, Abdel Halim Hafez, Mohamed Abdel Wahab.

Though many younger dancers are not fully aware of this rich history, many are starting to return to the glamorous, smooth belly dancing style of yore: by using music that sounds less modern and more traditional, and by simplifying movements to straight Oriental; and there also seems to be a resurgence in the popularity of retro- costuming: fuller skirts, more fringe. These days, with the internet and Youtube, evidence of this period- and invaluable research on the time itself- is only a mouse-click away.

How wonderful that Hollywood Music Center has recently embarked on a large, multi- disc project entitled the “Golden Era Of Bellydance”! This series of CD’s will concentrate on the music of the artists of the Golden Age period. Though the music is not the original film scores, it is faithfully reproduced by the Ferqat Al Tooras Orchestra, featuring musicians like Aboud Abdel Al, Ahmad Fouad Hassan and Mohamad Al Arabi. The instrumentation is old-school: naid, oud, accordion, kanoun,walls of cellos. The orchestration is acoustic and reflects the feel of the era, and the traditional arrangements are truly stellar.

The first disc in the series is “ Golden Era Of Bellydance,Volume 1: Tahiyya Karioka”. From the opening strains of “Ha Akbalu Boukra”, you will be transported to a by-gone era of dapper fez-sporting men in tuxedos and glamorous dancers in costumes complete with shoulder epaulets, pin-up hair do’s and belly-covers.

This disc also features one of the best versions of Farid El Atrache’s famous “Leyla”, whith an amazingly slinky intro; awesome renditions of “Al Hobbi Kidda”, “Sahara City” and Om Kalthoum’s lovely “Al Atlal”.

All of the pieces on this fantastic CD sound retro, but have none of the crackles, pops and glitches of the original recordings. They are also all in the three-to six minute range, making them perfect to easily incorporate into routines.

Whether you just want to listen to beautiful, vintage- sounding Arabic music or are planning on dancing to these songs, this CD is a must…and I can’t wait to hear the others as soon as they come out!

Order this CD:

Pictured: 1940's-era Tahiyya Karioka

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Happy Holidays to everyone, and wishing you lots of love, good fortune, health, wonderful dancing and crazy crazy adventures in the New Year....NEW DECADE!


Monday, December 21, 2009


I was singing “Auld Lang Syne” at the top of my lungs along with the car radio as I sped down the deserted, pitch-black 210 Freeway in the early morning hours, towards Pasadena.

A mere couple of hours ago, it had been New Year’s Eve 1996. I had flown in from the East Coast earlier that day, and spent the night- including the customary midnight count-down complete with a champagne toast- dancing my ass off at my regular gig, Moun Of Tunis Restaurant in Hollywood. In the couple of hours it had been 1997, I had also just completed a show at a private party, but I was excited- I was going to dance in the 108th Tournament Of Roses Parade!

My belly dance troupe, Flowers Of The Desert Arabian Dance Company, was going to be performing as part of a float whose theme was world peace, ethnic diversity and cultural unity. The float’s sponsors had envisioned kind of a rolling, flower-studded version of Disneyland’s “It’s A Small World” attraction, but instead of the puppets and dolls that many floats feature, the dancers were going to be real people.

The Rose Parade is annually seen on television by more than 32 million viewers world-wide, and though I had always enjoyed watching the parade and it’s early morning riot of colorful flowers, baton-twirlers and innovative, clever displays, I had never experienced it live- let alone been a part of it!

Every float in the parade portrays it’s own theme, and they are custom constructed weeks in advance of the event, parked in huge refrigerated warehouses while hundreds of volunteers painstakingly glue on flower petals, leaves, ferns, seeds and other natural bits of flora. Since I suffer from hay fever, I had taken the precaution of fortifying myself with Benedryl, so I wouldn’t be sneezing and wheezing my way down the long parade route.

I finally arrived in the designated area for the parade’s performers in the pitch black of the wee hours. Of course, in the pandemonium, it took me ages to find a parking space, and even longer for me to find the float I was affiliated with and the rest of my dance troupe.

It was utter chaos: in the gathering masses, I pushed past police barricades, entire families who had been camped out on the street for days to get a good viewing spot on the parade route, television cameras and news crews doing pre-parade coverage, staggering drunks, fire trucks, and tourists with huge mobile homes who had come to watch the big game, which kicked off directly following the parade.

The throngs of other parade participants probably numbered in the thousands. There were huge high school marching bands packed so closely that their tubas and trombones were clanking together; cheerleading squads from across the nation were practicing their moves next to equestrian groups with trick-riders dressed as cowboys and caballeros, and of course, The Budweiser Clydesdales, whose extensive, semi-truck-sized transportation trailers practically formed a maze.

The Clydesdales and other horses were all beautiful, and their riders looked festive, but their presence, along with the mounted police also meant that there was a ton of horse shit on the street, and so I had to pick my way very carefully in the dark to make sure I wouldn’t get any on my Hermes sandals or the hem of my voluminous skirts.

Trying to locate the other Flowers Of The Desert, I encountered acrobatic troupes, soap opera stars, vintage car clubs with members dressed as 1950’s teenagers, astronauts from Nasa, all sorts of military regiments, troupes of Ballet Folklorico dancers, Victorian Christmas carolers, and what seemed like zillions of Disney cartoon characters whose plush costumes and over-sized fake heads I used to think of as claustrophobic, but now envied cause I was so damn chilly in my own skimpy cabaret costume.

Finally, I found my girls, resplendent in a glittering array of ethnic dance costumes, from Saudi thobes to silk pantaloons and Ghawazee dresses. They were clustered in a tight circle, huddled together for warmth. It was so damp I could literally see their breath as they greeted me through chattering teeth.

There are strict rules for Rose Parade participants. One of them is that since there is nowhere to change, you must arrive in full costume. More importantly, another rule was that no performer is allowed to bring anything with them on a float: no food, water bottles, purses, or even jackets. Hence, the goose bumps on all the participants who were dressed scantily, like the poor majorettes and us belly dancers.

I had my house key and a couple of bucks concealed in the bra of my costume. But while the other Flowers were clutching their chiffon veils around them in an unsuccessful attempt to retain body heat, I’d had the foresight to wear a raggedy old hoodie sweatshirt for pre-parade protection. I figured I would ditch it at the very last moment before the parade started at 7:00am.

Unfortunately, that was still a couple of hours away. Even in my hoodie, it was freezing! Not only that, I was becoming ravenous, and sure I wouldn’t last throughout the long morning without a bite to eat.

Deciding it was time to take action, I asked a friendly- looking parade official if there was anywhere to get warm, and he directed me to a Red Cross station set up specially to serve the parade performers.

“You can’t miss it,” he said, looking me up and down and then snapping a picture of me with a disposable camera,

“It’s right around the corner, a big mobile home- you can get warm in there. They have coffee and snacks for everyone in the parade.”

I asked the other gals if they wanted to look for it, but they were concerned that we would miss our cue for the parade’s line-up if we left. For me, the bone-chilling dampness and the antihistamines I had taken, combined with my jet-lag, multiple- gig fatigue and growing was taking it’s toll, and I informed them I was going to look for snacks and coffee, and would bring some back.

Heading off in the direction the parade official pointed me in; I wandered down a residential street as dawn broke, in search of warmth, caffeine and hopefully a sandwich.

I was almost crying with relief as I spotted the large trailer, right where the guy said it would be. I trudged up the rickety, portable aluminum stairs of the mobile home, gathering up my sequined skirts so I wouldn’t trip.

As I stepped into the cozy trailer, I closed my eyes in contentment as I felt the warmth envelop me. I couldn’t believe that the place wasn’t packed full, it was so cold outside. Happily, I smelled fresh coffee.

I grabbed an apple off the counter and bit into lustily it before making my skirt-swishing way to the bathroom to check my make-up in the tiny, fluorescent-lit space. Even though it had been on all night, my lipstick was intact, and my whole face was so bright and glittery that I was satisfied everyone, even in nosebleed seats of the bleacher stands would be able to see how glamorous and exotic I was.

Someone had thoughtfully left some perfume out on the sink counter, so I helped myself to that, too, splashing it on generously. As I stepped out of the tiny powder room, holding my half-eaten apple, the door slammed, almost hitting a gentile-looking older lady in a Christmas sweater.

“Oops! I’m so sorry!” I called out as I plopped down onto a couch, making myself at home.

“ Do you guys have some coffee for me?”

My request was greeted with silence, but I didn’t care since it was so warm in there and I was busy finishing up my apple.

“May I have some coffee, please?” I repeated.

After a long pause, a man’s voice asked solicitously,

“Sure, how do you take it?”

As I looked up to answer him, suddenly things came into focus. Neither the man or the woman in the Christmas sweater were wearing any sort of Red Cross name tag or identification… in fact, there was nothing in there at all even remotely connected to The American Red Cross, no posters, no literature, no visible signage.

There was a tiny, staticy portable TV showing pre-parade coverage, framed family photos on the walls, and some pillows and an afghan covering another couch suggesting it had been very recently used as a bed.

A large Golden Retriever with a holiday-themed bandanna around it’s neck was snoozing on the couch near where I had sat down, and some copies of Reader’s Digest and a half-completed knitting project lay on the table.
The man was elderly and kindly looking, wearing a football jersey and he had his arm around the lady in the Christmas sweater.

I gulped, realizing that I had stepped into a private motor home!

And then it came to me what I must have looked like: an escapee from a mental hospital. I was a blatant, un-abashed trespasser with a sense of grandiose entitlement, and bleary in my Benedryl haze, my face caked with over-the-top, garish make-up, I was a lunatic clad in a revealing belly dance costume topped by the kind of a dirty, ripped-up, gray sweatshirt that would be featured in Bag Lady Vogue if such a publication existed. Not only that, I was holding the core of the recently devoured stolen apple in my hand and I reeked of the lady’s perfume.

“Oh my God, I’M SO SORRY!” I spluttered, my face turning crimson in embarrassment.

The couple tried to keep straight faces- apparently, they had understood exactly what was going on the moment I crashed into their trailer, and were waiting to see how long it would take me to catch on.

“The Red Cross trailer is next door,” the man said, deadpan,

“But you can still have some coffee…and we promise not to tell anyone what you did if you take a picture with us!”

At that, we all burst into laughter, even though mine was pretty sheepish. Turned out they were formerly from Pasadena, but now lived in Idaho, and in town for a few days to visit friends, see the game and watch the parade. They said that they had made the pilgrimage to Pasadena every year for the past decade. Luckily, they were thrilled to see a glamorous- though very disoriented and sleep-deprived parade performer- come crashing into their world. We posed for a few photos, and then amidst more laughter, I left to find my sister dancers, who wondered aloud where I’d been for so long.

“Why didn’t you come to the Red Cross trailer?” they squealed. “It was awesome, everyone was so nice!”

I started to tell them, but then we got rounded up in the appearance order for the floats along with all the other performers, because the parade was about to begin.

At 7:00am, The Stealth Bomber flew over downtown Pasadena, creating an earth-shaking sonic boom, which kicked off the festivities that year. As the floats revved their motors and the procession started, we rounded the first bend on the route, and there was literally a wall of television cameras.

The sound of the crowds in the stands and on the streets was beyond deafening. The bands were all playing different songs at the same time; spectators were screaming and yelling and there was incessant bleating from those plastic souvenir parade horns that vendors sell to kids on the streets during events such as this.

After about forty minutes, my hip sockets felt like they were ground to dust and my feet began throbbing from the constant dancing. My face hurt from non-stop smiling and both my arms were sore from waving.

People cut out of the crowds, zipping from the sidewalk to the floats running up and offering Dixie cups full of water for the all the performers. About halfway through, parade spectators who were obviously locals were holding up large, hand-lettered signs that read slogans like


By the end of the parade route, I was completely exhausted, spent, utterly finished. I was so tired I didn’t even want to get a VIP close-up look at any of the other floats; I just wanted to get home and go to sleep.

But in spite of my sore cheeks, I was still grinning ear-to-ear and laughing to myself, because I couldn’t think of a better way EVER to start the New Year!

Friday, December 18, 2009


The Holiday Season itself is always a bustling blur of parties, family get togethers, gift-shopping, decorating and celebrating...and this season is no different. But there is also always an under-current of craziness, too. This may involve family dysfunction, anxiety and seasonal depression, or monumental events... and not always the good kind.

This year has been stressful for many, due to the economy. Personally, though I have been well, a lot of weird things have happened around me. A close friend fell off her roof the day after Thanksgiving. Thankfully, she will be OK, but she has a long road of recovery ahead of her. My neighbor's dog was hit by a car yesterday. She too will be ok. There has also been a lot of death around to me this year...but it seems that many deaths of those close to me have always been a constant in my life.

To me, The Holidays have always been a time to remember people I have loved who have passed away... and this year in particular, as a new decade is about to start, I am reminded of a heartwarming but completely unexplainable and yes, paranormal incident that occured just when the new century was dawning.

In 1999, during the days leading up to the Millennium, like many people, I began reflecting on life: historical events I had witnessed, personal goals that I had achieved and the things I had accomplished. But what seemed to really dominate my thoughts were the many significant relationships I had with family and friends. I was blessed with so much love, nurture and support. I thought of the many special people who were there for me not matter what… who shared their lives with me, gave me affection and influenced my creative and artistic endeavors.

One of these special individuals was my friend and mentor, the late Zein Abdul Al Malik.

Zein was a male belly dancer of prodigious talent. Well over six feet tall and lanky, he had piercing green eyes and performed draped in luxurious folkloric garb, and wrapped in antique Assuit, balancing a huge brass tray with a full tea set and candles upon his regal head.

Zein began his career in the San Francisco Bay Area in the mid Seventies, dancing with Jamilla Salimpour, and went on to live in Morocco and Saudi Arabia, where he resided in one of the Royal palaces. He lived and breathed Oriental Dance, performing and teaching and doing research.

After we met in 1990, he took me under his wing- me, a beginning baby belly dancer with barely any skills- but somehow he saw my potential and nurtured me. Zein would have me over to his apartment- a wonderful, mysterious enclave of inlaid North African furniture, luxurious plants and relics from the Middle East. He’d make me mint tea in a silver Moroccan teapot and we’d spend hours together while he showed me steps and technique, discussed belly dance traditions, and watched vintage clips that he’d taped from the television in Saudi Arabia, featuring Golden Age Egyptian movies which starred famous Oriental Dancers like Naima Akef, Samia Gamal, and Tahiya Carioca. Zein also helped me select costumes, heartily encouraged my dancing, and got me my very first dance job (at Hollywood’s Moun Of Tunis Restaurant, where he worked) where, when I am actually in Los Angeles, I still work today.

Appropriate music for Middle Eastern dance was hard to find back in those days, and Zein made me copious amounts of Arabic mix tapes- remember, there were no CD’s back then- with the cassettes featuring everything from classic live Om Kalthoum performances to the latest in Egyptian pop and Algerian Rai music. Every cassette he made me had a special cover that he thoughtfully put together by hand, too- featuring Middle Eastern clip art, photocopies of vintage Turkish cigarette boxes and pictures of famous belly dancers like Nagwa Fouad and Soheir Zaki.

Tragically, Zein died about five years after I met him. By that time, we were close friends and because of his encouragement, we were also gigging together regularly. I was absolutely devastated. I remember speaking-or rather blubbering through a speech- at his memorial, my face wet with flowing tears, but I don’t remember a thing I said. I thought of him often, so many things reminded me of him. At gigs when I felt pre-show jitters, I would think of the way he used to calm my nerves through humor right before a show. Wrapped in a turban and wearing a brocade galibiya, shimmying to warm up, with his ever-present Marlboro in his mouth, Zein would sense my anxiety, catch my eye, make an exaggerated coquettish gesture then and whisper in a feminine falsetto,

How’s my hair?”

Somehow, our private joke never got old, and always made me laugh. Whenever he did that, I had a great show, entering the stage with a huge grin on my face. Even though Zein has been departed for years, I always think of him just before I go on.

So…fast forward to New Year’s Eve 1999, at five minutes of midnight. Of course I was at a belly dance gig, in a dressing room, wearing a brand new costume- my first costume for the New Millennium.

The dancer I was working with that evening asked what music I was going to dance to for my first dance set of the century.

“I don’t know, “ I said, pawing through my CD binder, “I’m so sick of all my music!”

My gig bag was full of the usual belly dance accoutrements: stray finger cymbals, perfume, hair accessories, mis-matched sequin armbands, loose aspirin tablets, safety pins. Suddenly, something fell into my hands, a small plastic case. Though my suitcase was always chaotic, there was a method to my madness, and it was always re-packed before every show. The little plastic box was definately an unfamiliar object that I didn’t remember packing. Recognizing what it was in the dim dressing room lighting by the feel of it alone, I wondered how it got there.

“Hey, no way, there’s a cassette in my dance bag!” I cried, kind of amazed.

You still use cassettes?” the other dancer asked incredulously.

“Well, no, not for years”, I answered, dumbfounded, “I have no idea what it’s doing in here!”

“Well, maybe we can dance to it,” she said, “What is it?”

I glanced at the clock- it was now one minute before midnight. Thinking we’d better figure our music out, I turned the mystery cassette case over in my hands. The cover featured a black and white drawing of a 1920’s flapper lounging in a champagne glass.

In hand-lettered Art Deco font, it read:


As the clock struck midnight and the new century began, I got chills.


Photo Of Zein Abdul Al Malik from the cover of Arabesque Magazine, January/February issue 1994

Monday, December 14, 2009


Happy Holidays!
We all need a breather during this hectic season, and we all could use a laugh or two! On November 8, 2009 I posted an article on some of the insane “Recent Keyword Activity” that was leading ‘net surfers to my blog. “Keywords” are the phrases people type when searching for information on the Internet.

As I noted before, the bad spelling and broken English in the Recent Key Word Activity wasn’t even the best part- it was the pure, unadulterated psychosis of the phrases... not to mention the fact that people are actually spending their time searching for this obviously extremely important information!

So, as a follow-up to the first post, I’m sharing ten more of the decidedly kooky Keywords!

The new Top Ten phrases are here… saving the best for last. single Every single phrase is copied exactly as it appeared on my Web Stats.











Thursday, December 10, 2009


Happy Holidays!

I am soooo pleased to announce That Zahra Zuhair and I will be leading a tour group to Egypt this coming June 2010!
For me, this is a dream come true- I've been wanting to share my adventures with other dancers by bringing a tour group to Egypt- and believe me, this will truly be belly dancer’s dream tour!

We are centering the trip around Ahlan Wa Sahlan, the biggest Oriental Dance Festival in the world!!! Zahra and I have both been going to Egypt for years. I've been going since 1991, and Zahra since....well, not totally sure but for definately years before I even considered dancing! And we both have attended- and taught at- Ahlan Wa Sahlan, too- we both truly know how to have a GREAT TIME at the festival AND in the land of the Pyramids!

Our tour will include lodging at the fabulous Mena House in Giza ( site of Ahlan Wa Sahlan, and a historic palace to boot!) plus the festival's workshops, gala shows, off-site dinner/ Nile Cruise shows, costume & souvenir shopping at Khan Al Khalili,excursions to Sphinx & Pyramids, Egypt Museum, Citadel, Coptic Cairo, **and** an optional Nile Cruise in Upper Egypt!

...And you know that there will be many "extra-curricular" activities as well, like a night of seedy Cairo cabarets, getting fabulous massages at The mena House ( I tried them- MANY TIMES- they're amazing!) visiting Manial Palace,exploring the labyrinth of cairo's streets, booking private lessons, sailing on a Felucca down the Nile at twilight, etc.

Just so you know, there will be PLENTY of things for non-dancers to do, as well....believe me, Egypt is a place where you will never get bored- there so many things to explore!

We will have full details shortly- and a website devoted onl to the tour will be up soon!

In the meantime, if you would like to join our email list for the tour, drop us a line:

Info: Zahra(at), princessraqs(at)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


The Holidays are here, and even with the economy the way it is, that means people are celebrating…which, for professional dancers, translates to employment opportunities. Even if you have never worked before, you may already be getting offers for holiday parties and gigs. If you are on the threshold of becoming a working professional dancer, then without a doubt, you’ve been sweating in group and private classes, practicing your butt off at home, dancing with a student troupe and in belly dance show cases, honing your technique and stage presence… and you just bought a fabulous new costume. Well, congratulations, girl, sounds like you’re about ready to go pro- all you need is a gig! Now might be the time for you to start working.

Exactly what do professional dancers know that you don’t? Well, for one thing, they know how to book shows. Whether you’re donating your dancing to a charity event, performing at a private party or auditioning for a restaurant or club job, there’s “technique” involved before you hit the stage as well. The following information will help you book a gig like a seasoned pro… help you to determine the WHO, WHAT,WHERE, WHEN and HOW of your gig.

First off: WHAT TYPE OF EVENT IS IT ? Private party, wedding, birthday, corporate show, Arabic club, holiday festival…etc. Make sure to find out exactly what your gig will be, so you can costume yourself appropriately and plan a set of songs that will reflect the mood.

WHO IS HIRING YOU? Club owner, bride or groom, caterer, event planner…

WHERE? (How far from your house, as well as whether the event is being held at a residence, restaurant, banquet hall, outdoor festival, etc.) *ALSO: Is there a full theatrical stage, raised stage, dance floor, living room, patio or……..???? FIND OUT ABOUT YOUR DANCE AREA!

WHEN? Get specific performance times, and let them know that you are flexible, but cannot stay at the event for hours at their discretion

SOUND SYSTEM : Do you have to bring a boom box ( like for a belly gram situation) or will there be a sound system w/ a deejay? Will you be using a CD or an iPod? Will there be other performers? Do they expect you to dance to a live band? If so- can you rehearse or do a tech check?

NEGOTIATE PAY :Depending on where, when and how long you will be dancing, state your rate, and negotiate your salary. It will behoove you to find out everything possible about the gig before stating a price- keep your price in mind, or even have it written on a piece of paper that you can refer to when on the phone with a prospective client.

DO NOT undercut the “going rate”. If you are not sure what the going rate is in your area, ask another local working dancer, or dance instructor. Start your price a little high, many people expect bit of bargaining. Figure out if it is a tipping situation or not, this will affect the base pay you ask for… and also ask the host or person who hired you if they would like you to stay within your performance area, or if it is fine to dance among the seated guests. Some people consider this acceptable, others think it’s ‘tacky”. DO NOT ask the person hiring you how much they wanted to spend on a dancer until you have stated your price. Everybody wants a “deal”, and will give you a lower figure. Know that it is fairly standard to charge not just for the party or gig, but the length of time it takes to GET you there- think twice about accepting a gig that is far from your home base, unless you know it will be worth your time. And know that pretty much anywhere in the world, the “going rate” for New Years is triple whatever you would regularly charge.

GET DIRECTIONS! If you can’t get directions from the host, call the venue. If you can’t get in touch with the venue, look up the address and driving directions on the internet.

GET CONTACT NUMBERS! Try to get both a cell-phone number as well as the number of the venue itself.

RE-CONFIRM YOUR PERFORMANCE (a week before the show, as well as the day before)

GET A CONTRACT AND DEPOSIT These days, PayPal makes this part so much easier. Set up a PayPal account if you don’t have one already.

DO NOT FEEL “WEIRD” BRINGING ALONG A FRIEND- PREFERABLY MALE : Any “decent” people in this day and age will perfectly understand the concept of personal safety. Tell them it is your ‘driver’. However, it is totally inappropriate for you to be hanging all over your ‘driver’ smooching! Be professional.


SHOW UP ON TIME, READY TO GO (come fully made up and if it’s a private gig with no dressing room fully costumed with a cover-up)

FIND A SECURE PLACE TO KEEP YOUR BELONGINGS- this could be anything from a locked dressing room or office, to a cubby-hole behind the bar or a concierge desk at a hotel or banquet hall. Even if you have to change in the Ladies Room ( and this is a common “dressing room” , believe me) ...or have your "driver" watch them while you perform. DO NOT leave your things there unattended!

LEAVE IMMEDIATELY AFTER YOU PERFORM AND GET PAID (No hanging around, you are an entertainer, not a guest)

BE GRACIOUS, CHEERFUL AND POLITE, but firmly refuse anything you do not want to do…like perform a second time for free!


Food for thought: If you act like a professional dancer, you will be treated like one!