Christmas Gifts for Belly Dancers
Is your girlfriend a belly dancer? Or maybe you have a belly dance student in the family, or as a friend? Here are some ideas on what she will appreciate as a Christmas present - and what she'd prefer not to get!
What Not to Buy a Belly Dancer for Christmas
A jingly, coin-embellished hip scarf is the first thing most people think of - but think again, unless you're buying for a brand new student. Most experienced belly dancers have a pile of hip scarves in their wardrobe already - and as they're only worn in class (not on stage), that means they have too many! Besides, cheap hip scarves sold in high street stores are often poor quality, and the coins start to fall off very quickly.
Another item which may catch your eye are "belly dance costumes" consisting of a belt, pants or skirt with a sequinned butterfly top. These are not genuine belly dance costumes. They make a fun play item for children, but are not practical for anyone with a bust - most women would risk a serious wardrobe malfunction if they wore the top to dance in!
Let's face it, buying clothes for someone else is always a risk, whether it's for day wear or for performance. Do you know what colours she prefers? Does she like heavily-sequined Turkish styles, or does she go for modern Egyptian? Are you sure of her size (bear in mind she'll probably wear her stage costumes more skin-tight than her day clothes, so precise fit is far more important)?
What to Buy a Belly Dancer for Christmas
The safest thing to do is head to a specialist belly dance store (like bellydancebazaar.com or bellydance.com). That way, you know anything you buy will be suitable for dancing. For instance, swords sold at bellydance.com are all designed for belly dancing - whereas if you buy one at a weapons shop, it probably won't balance on your head. Likewise, you'll find some gorgeous silk veils in Indian stores, but most of them are completely the wrong size and shape for dancing with.
Most veils come in a standard size, so your only concern is which colour to buy. She may already have several - but most dancers buy cheaper chiffon veils for themselves, so if you buy a real silk veil, you're fairly certain to get a big "thank you"! Choose a multi-coloured silk veil so it will match more than one outfit.
Even if your friend isn't into drumming, drum classes or workshops are an excellent way for dancers to learn Middle Eastern rhythms, so a doumbek could be useful. Besides, many belly dancers like to decorate their bedroom or practice room in an Oriental style, and a doumbek can look great used as a table or just for decoration.
Cushions, Tablecloths, Art
Continuing the interior decoration theme - rich, exotic Oriental brocades and silks can add a real "harem" touch to your friend's decor.
Still with the beauty idea - does she have a beauty case to take to performances with her?
Sparkling hair accessories are also useful - hairbands, hairclips, or slides.
Another nice idea is a zills bag. You won't find them in a belly dance shop: it's just a small drawstring bag. You may find a nice one in a store, or you could make one (here are the instructions). Choose a luxurious fabric!
For the Girl Who Has Everything
If you really want to spoil someone, the ultimate gift for any belly dancer is a trip to Egypt!
A Christmas Wish by Canadian belly dancer Cassandra Fox: