Finding Where You Fit In

Coming into any community as an outsider or newbie can be tough. There are set hierarchy and rules. Information is usually assumed and not well laid out. And most importantly the cliques can be hard to navigate. The belly dance community can be the same way.  So through all this mess, how do you find a place to fit in?

Listen but don’t judge.

One of the biggest mistakes I made when I first got into dancing was truly believing others experiences and advice about other people. In any community there are personal gripes and problems which can lead to rumors and “cautionary tales”. Though some of these experiences are true there is always multiple sides to every story. Listen and remember but don’t turn people away based off of a story you heard from someone else. Take the time to get to know people one on one so that you can form your own opinion.

Say “yes” to new experiences.

Opportunity to dance at a hafla? Invited to see a new show? New class that’s out of your comfort zone? Opportunity to join a new troupe? Do it! New experiences bring you to new people. Even if you don’t think it would your cup of tea you just never know until you try. Because I’ve been willing to step out of my lane I’ve met and created amazing opportunities for myself. I’ve created some lifelong friends along the way too.

Force yourself out of your social norms.

See that “scary and intimidating” dancer over there? Go say hi. They, like yourself, are a normal person. They pull their pants on the same way as you. Why don’t you say hello? Don’t let yourself be intimidated by people who you think are better than you. They were in your shoes not too long ago. Introduce yourself and start a connection.

“No” does not mean that you’re not liked.

Our egos are very delicate things. Getting told “no” fractures that ego and can make us act irrationally. It’s hard to remember but getting told no just not mean that the producer of the show, leader of the troupe, or dancer hates your guts. It just means that you at this moment, were not a good fit for the spot. It also doesn’t mean that your a bad dancer, just that you were not a good fit at this time. It’s hard to swallow but take the opportunity to improve and move on. There are many other opportunities out there for you!

Remember that you are worth while.

The art you create is valuable. The company and friendship you provide is valuable. Don’t forget it! There is a space for you and you do belong. Even if things don’t feel like they’re working now, they will later.

Kat teaches, dances, and produces shows in Tacoma, Washington. You can find out more about her belly dance classes, belly dance performances, and belly dance shows at

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