Boy in the street as crossing guard

STOP and read this warning first. Do you really want to ignore a kid in the street holding a stop sign?

WARNING: Please leave this page immediately and do not read this post if you are any of the following:

1. Incapable of understanding sarcasm. (This is a biggie!)

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6. Own a pair of Teva sandals. This isn’t related to not wanting to read hateful comments. It’s just because…really? Do I have to explain why?

For those of you who pass these tests, you’re obviously awesome so read away!

bely dancerReally. This is not a rhetorical question. What’s the etiquette? Does Emily Post have any recommendations for this? I suspect in her high-fallootin’ society, she may not come across many belly dancers. She should. Maybe she wouldn’t be so uptight.

Like anyone really wants to read an Emily Post book about how to properly eat soup at an afternoon tea. Who wants soup at an afternoon tea? Who wants to even attend an afternoon tea? Is it Long island Iced Tea? If so, I could be persuaded to attend, but not if I have to speak properly, sit up straight or use the proper spoon. I’m also thinking a bra would be a requirement, and one I just can’t justify.


So what is the protocol for when a belly dancer dances at a restaurant during your dinner? I ask only because this happened recently and I had no idea how to handle the situation. Thus, I look to you: my sophisticated readers. Lord knows I didn’t know what to do other than hand her a brochure for a respected technical college in the area.

Recently, we attended a birthday party at a restaurant when the token belly dancer approached our table. No, we weren’t at a strip club, although it’s a valid question. Rather, we were at a great Greek restaurant, where a woman dances every Friday and Saturday night while patrons eat and try not to curse her for lack of belly fat. She sashees around from table to table, flipping her hips and making me uncomfortable.

Is belly button lint really that appetizing?

question markApparently so, as this restaurant has been doing this for years. I just never know what to do, so I usually bail to the restroom when I see her dancing our way, and try to Google “what do you do when someone belly dances at your table?”

Don’t Google this, my dear reader, especially in Google Images. You don’t want to know what it reveals…especially when you’re in a bathroom stall that smells like air freshener and humus-inspired excrement. Just an FYI.

But really, what should I do? Where do I look? I don’t want to look directly at her, but is it rude if I don’t watch? Will she be offended? Is she paid per view? I don’t want to cut into her rent money.

But if I do look at her, do I look her in the eye? I feel like I’m shaming her when I do that. Like I’m saying “Did the nail technician thing not work out? You can do so much more than this.” Wait…that might be the actual words I said to her. I can’t remember. The sangria was flowing.

What?! It was a par-tay after all. Did I want to slap the birthday girl in the face by not living it up? (I may have done that too. The pictures aren’t back yet. For now, I will adamantly deny it.)

Do I look at her abs? I feel like I should. She’s a belly dancer, after all. I guess she wants us to look, but then I feel like a creeper with a fetish. How long do you look? What if I stare too long? Not long enough? Do I ask her about her ab workout regimen? Not that I would follow it. I’m just wondering if I should ask.

It’s so stressful.

Are the belly dancers the classy version of strippers? Are they shunned by strippers? Do they start on the pole and then move their way up to the belly circuit? Is the belly dancing gig the glass ceiling of dancing gigs?

I have so many questions and so little answers. Unfortunately, the belly dancer of the evening, who I named Natasha, wasn’t keen on my questions, probably because I was shouting them out above the music. Whatever. I have an inquisitive mind.

I think her name was Sandra. Whatevs. She’ll always be Natasha to me.

But seriously, your insight is needed. We are returning to this restaurant this weekend and I need to know if I should wear my sunglasses at night so I can…so I can….(just like Corey Hart.)

20 Thoughts on “What’s the proper etiquette for a belly dancer at dinner?

  1. I have absolutely no idea how I would react in that situation! Are you sure she worked there and wasn’t just some random woman who loves bellydancing and happens to come jiggling into the joint? It could happen.
    The Sadder But Wiser Girl just rambled about…Wordless Wednesday: Life In IowaMy Profile

    • It’s always so awkward! She’s always there on weekends, which is usually when we go to that restaurant. The food is great, but I leave with images of belly buttons in my head, which isn’t a good way to start the weekend.

  2. I thought you were supposed to stick dollar bills into her waistband….no?!!
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    • I just gave her a few bucks. But where am I supposed to LOOK?! Do I watch her dance, make eye contact, look down? So many questions and so much discomfort.

  3. Whoa. I won’t know what to do if something like that happened either. I’d freak out if violinists come to serenade me while I’m eating! Thanks for sharing, Lisa!

    • It’s super awkward! We are going there tomorrow night again so I think I’m going to try a few different techniques to see which one has the best effect.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  4. Wow, this is quite the dilemma. But, never fear. I can help you. Because I am supposed to be working and am totally procrastinating….Here is what I found for you. See, not only am I fabulous but I am helpful too. Wow, I want to be my own friend. Now, if I should ever find myself in this situation, I now know how to weird everyone around me out by following a few simple rules, and the best part is the first link was written by an actual belly dancer.
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  5. Ya know…I’m not sure. I know my husband, being a guy, would smile at this for sure. Me? I wouldn’t be so offended as to shoo her away, but I’m not sure I’d actually go back to such a place, if that makes sense. I’d forever think about that restaurant as the “belly dancer” restaurant…and a “culture” that I don’t participate in. Not that that helps your original question…lol
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    • It’s just such a strange custom! The whole thing makes me so uncomfortable! Who wants to carb-load and then look at someone’s flat stomach? Not a good marketing strategy.

  6. Okay, bestie, this answer is so clear! What you do is you look her in the eyes as she approaches and then smile politely, but not in a creepy way. You do NOT want to creep out the belly dancer. Then continue eating or talking or whatever, while you glance over at her dancing every three seconds. This way you’re not being rude, but you’re also not staring.

    Or just stare at her with quizzical fascination while muttering to your friends how mesmerized and jealous you are. That’s what I would do.
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    • You’re a genius! I’m sooo going to take this advice because it’s brilliant. But of course it’s brilliant, we share a brain.

      Thanks, bestie!

  7. Long Island Iced Tea? Yum. Perhaps you can get up and dance with her? She just may leave you alone after that. Or you’ll get kicked out, but either way, problem solved.
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  8. Oh my Gawd, this is so funny. I want to try to answer you seriously, but I just picture myself in the situation getting the giggles really badly. Actually, I just took my 6 year old to a belly dance concert, which was pretty awesome. But much less weird than being at a restaurant. I mean, at their “belly dance SHOW” you’re supposed to look at them. And clap. Huh.
    Stephanie @ Mommy, for real. just rambled about…Why I Won’t Quit My Day JobMy Profile

  9. LOL – This conversation is hilarious. I didn’t take offense at all, and I’m a belly dancer. Bet you didn’t know that huh? Actually I’m not, but if I were, I’d be laughing my ass off…just because you’re humor is ridiculous. 🙂 I’m sorry to above commenter who is clearly upset, but it’s obvious she was being snarky…not really trying to put down a whole culture of belly dancing ladies.
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    • Thanks, Julie! It’s quite clear you and sarcasm know each other quite well.

      You may have even gotten to second base, or so it seems. Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me. 🙂

  10. Wait…I meant it was obvious YOU were being snarky. Sheesh!
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