The Holidays...they're heeeere!
For many dancers, the holiday season is a usually huge moneymaker. There are oodles of private gigs for Christmas, Hanukah and New Year’s Eve parties. There are also many year-end corporate gigs, office parties, and charity events going on. Clubs and restaurants are crowded and want more live entertainment than during other times of the year, and patrons customarily tip more generously. The standard rate for New Year’s Eve gigs used to be triple what you’d normally receive, but with money being tight everywhere, this sadly isn’t the case so much anymore. Though there is certainly an opportunity to make bank during the holidays, it may also be an idea to think of what you are forfeiting by doing those shows.
Since we perform so often on holidays no matter what time of year, they usually don’t seem like a day off for dancers.
To begin with, because of gigs, you are spending your holiday away from loved ones. You dance at other people’s holiday celebrations (not to mention birthday parties, weddings, graduation ceremonies, etc.) year-round, but don’t celebrate those occasions yourself, because you are working. During Christmastime through New Year’s Eve, in order to work, you’re braving not only the weather, but also bumper-to-bumper traffic, long lines at police sobriety checkpoints, and even if you don’t imbibe at all you’re risking the potential hazards of others who are driving while under the influence.
I have always had a steadfast rule about my holiday gigs- especially New Year’s Eve: Just Say No. It doesn’t mean that I don’t accept holiday gigs- I do, frequently. It’s just that I am ultra-choosy about which ones I accept, as well as how I schedule them.
Though it might seem crazy, throughout the years, the Just Say No policy has served me well. Unless I am absolutely certain I can get to and from a show (or multiple shows) on time and get paid what I am worth, I’d rather stay home. That means I won’t be spending the New Years Countdown stuck in traffic, stressing cause I’m late for a show; or shivering in a drafty backstage or lonely hallway waiting through endless techno renditions of “Auld Lang Syne” and lengthy toasts to perform a set for a bunch of revelers who are only focused on where their next glass of champers is coming from! Choose your holiday gigs wisely, and decide for yourself it it’s worth the sacrifices you will inevitably make.
Another thing to think about is your own safety- and I don’t mean the common-sense rules that usually apply, like bringing an escort to a private gig or making sure you get a deposit in advance. Holiday gigs present a variety of “hazards” that may not be present at other times of the year. Specifically, I’m talking about things like open flames from candles, spiky evergreen boughs, breakable glass ornaments, and clusters of snaking extension cords for holiday lighting. While these all make a home or restaurant pretty and enticing, they could be dangerous for you…so scope your performance space out carefully, don’t get too close to anything that could break and cut you or snag your costume – or set it on fire! And while you’re performing in a smaller space, really try to get a bead on the drunks in the audience (they’re always there, but even more so at this time of year!) and practice your crowd-control skills…because you’ll need them!
One last thought: give yourself a holiday gift. As dancers we spend most of the year giving: we give our time and energy all year round to our audiences and students. We are always “on”, whether we are actually onstage or not. Though we may try to rest and prepare for this, we always seem to put ourselves last on the list of recipients. It’s a wonderful thing to do, that whole external out-pouring of energy… but by the end of the year, you may develop a deficit that can sap you emotionally and mentally as well as physically.
During this fun but oh-so-hectic season, make sure to take some much-needed “quality time” to recharge your batteries and give back to yourself… even if it’s just spending time with your family, friends and beloved pets, or stealing a few moments of quiet each day! A massage or a nice hot bath with Epsom salts are great year-round, but a necessity at this time of year, so treat yourself to some quiet relaxation, because you’ll need it!
In honor of the holidays, I’m having a Black Friday-through-Cyber Monday sale… many of my DVD’s and my new book “Showgirl Confidential” are on sale here: