Gifts for Dancers

rustic present

We are getting closer to the End of Year and the dreaded “what do I get them” situation we all have at some point. Present buying fatigue, I call it; always leads to bad decisions and lots of last minute overpriced joke presents and pairs of socks.

What to get your dancers friends or significant others if you’re not sure they want something specific, then? Dancing is an expensive hobby, and I’d think most of us would *love* to have some of that load off our backs.

Training would be my first suggestion, as I’m partial to experiences over objects. There are a multitude of online training websites, depending on their preferred style(s).

  • Datura Online, a classic, well established, with multitude of brilliant trainers. Ideal for your dancer friend who does several styles. They offer gift certificates.
  • FatChanceBellyDance® University: relatively new at just over one year old, but with backing from the creator of the style and all of the big names in it. Great for your FCBD Style dancer friend who likes to geek over minutiae. They will likely offer Gift Certificates too!
  • Sahira’s Online Classes: she hosts a few brilliant teachers, including one of my favourites, Silvia Salamanca. You can purchase a single course, and is done over teachable, same as FCBDU (previous option), so you need just one log in for both. Just saying
  • Salimpour School Online: American classic, foundation for a lot of fusion styles out there. Another all-you-can-learn option, perfect if your friend wants to train in this style
  • Kamrah Online: very new to the online classes, but not to the scene, Kamrah is a fantastic dancer with excellent focus on safety, which, if you’re reading this blog, I imagine might also be a priority for you. You can check out their YouTube Cardio BellyDance class for details.
  • if there are live festivals going on where you are, offer a workshop or three on those
  • if they regularly attend local classes, offer to cover their tuition for a while

You want something a bit more special? Get them a private with a favourite dancer. Most of them will offer zoom or Skype based privates, just go to their websites and ask. Most dancers, even the big names out there, are lovely people and will most definitely not bite when approached. Even better, ask if they’d like a private with their regular teacher!

If classes sound boring but you would still rather not give a physical object, you could go down the relaxation route. Now that pandemic restrictions are starting to lift, some activity to help with those achey muscles is always welcome. Spa treatments, massages, even facials will likely be a great option. And you don’t even need to go for treatments, one of my favourite days ever was spent at a spa where we had access to the pools, heated pools and saunas: no treatments, just time to swim, chill, had hot water jets pummel my back, then into the sauna. Check out local spas and salons, figure out if there is a particular favourite, and speak to them. Most offer gift cards that you can pick and allow the person to pick their own treatments.

Want physical items then? Belly Dancers are a bit like magpies, we all like costuming, some jewellery, and go through certain items like a hungry kid goes through a pile of candy. So what are some options out there:

  • buy them a gift certificate from their favourite costuming store.
  • Carolena Nericcio, of FatChanceBellyDance, is on etsy selling her handmade or selected items, and if your friend does FCBD style, they will likely appreciate one of these; we all get a bit giddy at stuff made by mama Carolena herself, and a lot of her clothing items like the jacket go way beyond class or performance use
  • Melodia Designs has some lovely, very desireable items. Alas, sizing can be inconsistent, particularly on the plus end, and that end is rather… narrow, shall we say. By all means go for this if you find something that really catches your eye and theirs, but read carefully about sizing before ordering.
  • Matadore Designs has great quality items, also very desireable, but might be easier to access than Melodia for those on this side of the pond.
  • if they use any footwear for dancing, get them a pair; I know I literally go through mine often enough, so extras are always welcome. Just make sure to check brand and size, as they are all made slightly different and something that looks the same might not fit the same
  • if they enjoy, or want to start using finger cymbals, a good pair of Saroyan finger cymbals will likely be welcome. Just don’t get them the minis
  • a beautiful dancing top or skirt from Alma Tribal: full disclosure, Analia is a friend, and if you check out her plus size models on Facebook, you might see a familiar face. But her items are great quality, are versatile, sizes are inclusive, and she ships worldwide, so I have no qualms recommending them.
  • a particular prop: veil, sword, or basket, but better figure out which one first, as not everybody wants to work with any prop out there. If you’re getting a sword, only get it from a dancing site as they are a bit different than other reproduction ones. If you are in the UK, double check as sword sales are *complicated* here.
  • books on history, culture and music; we should always aim to educate ourselves further, and good, reliable, academical information will probably be welcome. Just check that they don’t already have it. There’s a great compilation list at FCBDU

Great, those are plenty of interesting options. Anything *not* to get them? Why, thank you for asking. As a matter of fact, yes:

  • anything vaguely Ancient Egyptian, unless they are *also* into Ancient Egypt
  • any coin belt or chain. I know that’s what most people think dancers wear and use. Truth of the matter is, most of us who stick with classes longer than a few months stop wearing them, as they are noisy and stop people hearing the instructors at best, and start dropping sharp coins or beads to the floor creating a hazard at worst. Good, durable dancing shawls are expensive and specialised, you won’t find good quality ones at charity shops, Amazon or any general store out there, so save your money
  • any “become a belly dancer” kit. To put it bluntly, these are useless. Dancing, particularly at the start, requires the eye of a teacher to keep an eye on posture and correct technique, and nothing these little books say will make up for that. The finger cymbals that come with those are pretty much useless too.
  • anything from India like Saris unless they actively use them for whatever reason (and that’s a whole different kettle of fish); South East Asia is not Middle East. It is true that some of us dance styles that might be influenced by India and Persia, and a lot do Yoga, but that doesn’t mean that just anything from that culture is ok for us to pick and use.
  • any bright big jewellery; those of us dancing certain styles wear particular types of jewellery; costumes are carefully put together, and most often than not, while we might keep a thing or two “out of character”, we don’t just throw on anything sparkly
  • any music CD marked as “belly dance”; dancers are music magpies too, but we don’t all dance to any song out there, and a lot of the music is repeated in CDs; only get these if they are on their wishlist
  • any bindis or facial adornment; this includes temporary “tattoos”. There’s been an ongoing discussion on using facial and body jewellery and adornment, but the general consensus so far is that while certain things might be ok, others aren’t. Don’t put them in a tight spot, and just avoid, let them pick their own if they want it
  • anything traditionally associated with certain ethnic groups like Rom/Dom. If you’re not familiar with the names, google is your friend; the name you might be more familiar with is considered a slur by them and I am not about to write it here. Again, these are distinct groups and their cultures and traditions are not ours to stereotype for a laugh.

If you have any further suggestions, I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below!

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