A trend I’ve noticed growing lately is the overlap of the belly dance and science fiction communities.
When I was an active belly dancer in the early 1990s, many of my belly dance friends were also avid science fiction buffs. In fact, we used to meet at one our houses to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation every week and attended SF cons together.
But, at the time, that’s all the overlap I noticed.
These days, it is quite common for you to see belly dance performances at sf/f/h cons. Sometimes attendees will come in full belly dance costume.
And, I wonder why that is. Here are my thoughts … do you have any theories of your own to add?
Belly dance, as it is taught here in the U.S. (I can’t speak for other countries) has a strong fantasy component. For me, dressing up in all the sparkly cloths and dancing an exotic dance was as much about living a fantasy of being beautiful and alluring as it was about getting into shape and finally finding a group where I fit in.
Belly dance requires a costume and costuming has always been a key part of sf/f/h conventions. When it comes right down to it, what is the difference (besides fabric choice and patterns) between creating a belly dance costume, a vampire costume or a Princess Amidala costume?
Belly dance has a counter-culture aspect to it here in the States. Belly dance, as an Arabic dance form, has its detractors. I’ve heard the whispers that if you’re a belly dancer, then you’re an Arab-lover, which makes you just that much closer to a terrorist lover. Absurd, I know. But the undercurrent is there none the less. And, of course, science fiction fandom has always been a counter culture movement.
I also suspect there is a viral component to this trend, too. Me and my friends couldn’t have been the only belly dancers who loved science fiction. So, the over lap starts when SF buddies introduce each other to their non-SF interests. Belly dancing probably grew in popularity in the culture through word-of-mouth … or should I say shimmy-of-hip?