Belly Dance Backstage Etiquette: Dos and Don’ts for Sharing the Dressing Room
Last week there was a pretty lively belly dance discussion on Saqra Raybuck’s Facebook page regarding how to be a considerate dressing room companion. As bellydancers, we rarely have spacious, luxurious, star-quality dressing spaces. The reality is usually a crowded room with suitcases on the floor, a few mirrors and a table – if you’re lucky – and poor lighting. Most of the contributors to the discussion were experienced professionals – and among us, we had a good many backstage tales to tell. A lot of good points came up, so I thought I’d share some of them with you here.
Have a small footprint. Put your gig bag down and keep your stuff close to it. Costume suitcases do have a way of “exploding” once you start getting dressed, but fold your things up and keep it all contained. Packing up will be that much easier for it later.
No photos, please! What? People really do that? Yes, I’m sad to say they really do. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. If you really must do a pre-show selfie for Instagram, do it in the hall. 4 feet behind you people are getting naked. Think before you shoot.
Share the mirrors. If there are only a few mirrors for lots of dancers to share, be courteous. Get in, get glittered and get out. Don’t park yourself with your full makeup bag to do your whole face. If you aren’t going to arrive with most of your stage face on, bring a mirror of your own to use so you can take your time. When you’re done, offer to share and make a friend!
If it’s not yours, don’t touch it. Treat other people’s things as you’d want yours to be treated. Don’t borrow someone’s mirror to brush you hair and leave the hairball from your brush as a present. Yes, that really happened too. Gross, huh? Sadly, some dancers have even had things stolen – from cash to whole costumes. We’re in this together backstage, let’s act like it.
Careful with the costumes! A crowded dressing room is not the place for food or drinks, other than water in a closed container. Can you imagine if someone’s yogurt spilled on your precious Bella? Costumes and food don’t mix. Step outside the room to snack.
Step out before you spray. Your hairspray or perfume doesn’t just land on you. Also, some people have fragrance allergies.
Put your phone on vibrate. If you need to take more than a very short call, step out of the room.
BE NICE 🙂 A pleasant attitude does wonders for backstage energy. Contribute to the good vibe. Or a least don’t contribute to a bad one. Complaints, bragging and “one-upping” don’t leave a good impression.
DO warm up, and please be compact about it. Ideally, you should leave the dressing area to do your warm up ( you DO warm up before a show, don’t you?). For times when that is impossible, learn to do an effective warm up in your own space. Shoulder circles, standing cat/cow, knee lifts – it is possible.
If you have something “not nice” to say…. wait. If you have concerns about the show procedures, backstage isn’t the place to vent. Close your lips and put your lipstick on. Save your thoughts and share them in a polite way with the person they actually concern – in private, by email or by phone later. Let’s keep that vibe positive backstage!
Forgot something? Just ask! We’ve talked about a lot of bad dressing room behavior, but the vast majority of dancers in my experience are happy help out with bobby pins, eyelash glue or any other little thing that got left behind at home. It’s good dressing room karma. I got to share my glitter lotion with one of my bellydance heroines once…. it felt grrrreat! 🙂
Keep your music to yourself. If you like to listen to your show music over and over before a performance, do it with headphones. You are the only one that needs to hear it. Also, I would say this was the second biggest complaint- right behind our next one…..
It’s a DRESSING room – not a studio. The dressing area is not the place to run through your choreography. There is rarely if ever space and even if there were, it’s just not polite. As a matter of fact, it can make you look as if you’re cramming in a last-minute rehearsal and not prepared. If you must do a run through, find another area of the building or even go outside, weather permitting.
Leave it clean. Check your space after you pack up. Throw away your water bottle, tissues and other trash. Wipe up any glittery messes. Imagine how pleased the host would be if everyone did that. Now image if no one did….
It really comes down to having “Golden Rule” behavior backstage. The dressing room can be a wonderful place full of anticipation, excitement and sisterly good times. That is part of the fun of a show night – for me, anyway – and dancing should be fun, on stage and backstage. We’re in it together, let’s act like it.
Do you have other dressing room “Do’s and Don’t s ” to add? Share them in the comments below