Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Because, in the end, it all boils down to respect:

Four restaurants had applied for permission to have dancers perform. They wanted to host hula dancing, flamenco dancing, belly dancing.

The planning staff recommended OKing the requests, but then came the point of contention, the point that set the dancer’s bells jingling:

The city tried to define “cultural dancing,” breaking it down into an itemized list. This, many dancers said, was harmful and disrespectful and would affect belly dancers most of all.

Well that would just tend to jingle my bells too, durnitall.

“We have to work hard to gain the respect of other dance styles,” said Connie Picard. “We’re taken for granted because everybody thinks we’re strippers.”

The nerve of some people...at any rate, the ensuing discussing proved educational for those who might be tempted to make that mistake:

“There is some confusion today as to what the meaning of breast is,” he offered. “The code is rather specific.”

I should hope so: the image of a rash of random undefined and unregulated breasts breaking out like the measles all over Ghent and annoying the citizenry is simply too awful to contemplate.

On tipping, the dancers spoke of how money is traditionally thrown at the dancers, who touch neither it nor the patrons. The commission was OK with that.

Others spoke of various belly dancing forms, which often require the dancer to place [various unspecified] body parts besides the feet on the floor.

“We’ve been doing this forever, some longer than others, [Good God] and we know what we’re doing,” said dance teacher Sonia Monson.

Nothing reassures the beleaguered official like promises of professional competence.
Zoby again tried to reassure them. “The movements of belly dancing that are the true, cultural movements of the belly dancer would be OK.”

“If there’s no complaint, the city never hears about it,” added Melita. [thereby answering the age-old question, "If there is a lap-dance and no one ever files a complaint, has a cultural event occurred?"] “If there is, there are some standards here so that when someone does complain, we know what’s permissible and what’s not.”

“We definitely respect your freedom to express yourselves in our city,” said Boose-Jackson. “Norfolk has a serious past where there were all kinds of X-rated clubs. We don’t want anything to slip under the radar.”

Indeed. The more frivolous x-rated clubs outside NOB were never a problem. It is the grimmer sort we want to keep out of our fair city. One likes to keep one's fun... well, fun.