3 Items the Beginner Belly Dancer Needs

Belly dance shopping is really fun: there is a whole sea of sparkly, jingly stuff, and it all looks really exciting. But I discourage my students from spending a lot of money up front, especially in the first six months or so.
 

Why Not Shop?

At this stage in your belly dance education, it’s hard to distinguish between a useful tool, a cheap knock-off, and a glittery knick-knack. So it’s easy to waste your money on a bunch of junk you never end up using. (I know I did!)

Plus, you really don’t need a lot of “stuff” when you first start dancing. Technically, all you actually need is your own body. But there are a few items that really make a difference when you’re first starting out.

 

So What Should I Buy?

 

1) A Hip Scarf

While you don’t need a hip scarf in order to learn to belly dance, it’s very helpful to tie something around your hips while you dance. The scarf helps your teacher see your movements and position more clearly, making it easier to correct you. If your scarf has fringe or coins, it also helps you feel and hear your movements, so you can correct yourself.

Where to buy: I keep some inexpensive hip scarves in stock. You can also find some extremely affordable hipscarves on ebay. (They tend to be low-to-medium-quality, but are cheap to replace.) Higher-end scarves are available through online vendors like dahlal.com. Remember: you don’t need a scarf created specifically for belly dancers: you can often find fringed shawls in the accessories section of thrift shops and department stores.
 

2) Music

The music is king in belly dance. You may not realize it yet, since you’ll spend your first classes learning moves. But when you perform, your job as the dancer is to follow the music’s lead, and to interpret it for your audience. It takes a while to become familiar with Middle Eastern music, so the more listening you do now, the better-prepared you’ll be later.

Where to buy: I keep a few CDs that I recommend in stock, but there is much more out there. Belly dance music is more widely-available than ever, so you’ll find CDs in many stores. iTunes, eMusic, and Amazon MP3 also have terrific selections of downloadable music. maqam.com and hollywoodmusiccenter.com have large CD selections, which you can order online.
 

3) A Full-Length Mirror

This is an often overlooked, but very important tool for a beginning belly dancer. A mirror helps you correct yourself while practicing at home. (Be sure to practice without the mirror sometimes too, so you don’t become dependent on it!)

Remember: this mirror needs to live in your dancing space (or be easily moved there). Your bedroom mirror won’t do you any good if you practice in your living room!

Where to buy: you can get a door-mount-style mirror for $10-15 in almost any department, home goods, or hardware store. If you have a dedicated practice space and can mount on the wall, you can get large bathroom mirrors (the 3’x4′ size is great) at larger hardware stores.

 

But I’m Really Excited & Want More Stuff!

If you have some extra money to spend and are excited about belly dance shopping, here are a few things I’d recommend. You don’t need any of these things, but they won’t be a waste of money.

Performance Videos

You can learn a lot (and have a lot of fun!) by watching performances by dancers you admire. It’s also nice to have something you can show your friends and family when they ask what you’ve been learning.

Costume Jewelry

Middle Eastern-style earrings, necklaces, and bracelets are pretty and usually inexpensive. Most can eventually be worn with costumes, but, if not, often look nice with your street clothes.

Books about Belly Dance and the Middle East

There’s a lot of misinformation out there, so take what you read with a grain of salt. But reading about the dance and the cultures it comes from put me in the mood to dance!
 

Summary:

Belly dance shopping is exciting, but you don’t need many things when you first start out. You’ll be well-served with just a hip scarf, music, and a mirror for practicing. If you really want to do more shopping, performance videos, belly dance-themed jewelry, and books are also nice to have.
 

Next Step:

Before you go shopping, check out my article: 5 Things a Beginning Belly Dancer Shouldn’t Buy (coming soon).

Comments are closed.