Once I had become interested in belly dance, it took me years to work up the guts to actually try it because I had absorbed the very common — but very mistaken — idea that belly dance is about sex. It only took a few classes for me to figure out that I was wrong, and that the governing principle (in my community, at least) was in fact body positivity.
After that, I drew a very clear line between belly dance and sex, which was reinforced by the ‘matriarch’ of my group. Shows were always family friendly. Because of the history of confusion between belly dance and sexuality (which I suspect is due to the superficial resemblance of belly dance to ‘erotic dance’), she asked that dancers who crossed over into burlesque, for example, do so independently, and not as representatives of the belly dance group.
Yet here I am, posting erotic photos of myself, wearing dance costume bits, on my sex blog. What gives? Having drawn the line between dance and sex for so long, it feels a bit problematic to blur it or ignore it now.
The purpose of dance costume is generally to enhance the dance by being attractive and highlighting or framing the dancer’s movements. Neither the costume nor the movements are designed to be sexual.
My fringe photos don’t represent belly dance in any way. They’re stills, studies of the body and its sensuality. The fringe is still designed to be attractive, but not sexual; it still highlights the body, but the sensuality of the photo comes from the pose and state of undress, not the fringe itself. The fringe remains a neutral frame.
So this isn’t an admission that belly dance is inherently sexual after all. It just means that most of the gear I have to play with is stuff I made or bought as dance costume.
This is the final photo of the series.