Monday, October 10, 2011

A Dancer's Safety

As bellydancers, we're often driving to and from different venues. Because of this, it is inevitable that we will find ourselves leaving a venue alone at night, and facing a long walk to whatever parking lot our cars are located in, while wearing several pounds of fabric, makeup, and jewelery, and carrying dance bags, props, swag, and a number of other things. And, as much as we hate to admit it, this situation does put us at some risk. So how do we minimize that risk?

To start with, you don't need to strap on a muumuu and become a black belt in your martial art of choice. However, here's where your bellydance training can come in handy, and help you keep yourself safe in any situation.

Posture: It's not just for bellydancing! There's a reason we bellydancers use the 'head up, shoulders back, chest lifted' posture to dance. It gives the impression of a strong, confident woman, and the last thing a potential mugger wants to do is attack a strong, confident woman. If you're faced with walking alone, this posture will give anyone in your area the idea that you are not someone to be easily trifled with.

Props: Keep your hands free. Easier said than done, I know, but if you know you have a lot to carry and a long way to walk, don't be afraid to ask for help. It doesn't make you weak, and you're not imposing on anyone--and if you do get another dancer, musician, or friendly audience member to give you a hand, remember to pay it forward. However, you do want to have your car or house keys in your hand, and if you have to carry something that can double as weapon, keep it accessible. I like to thread my keys through my fingers when I'm walking through a parking lot.

Rehearsal: No one wants to think about getting assaulted, but combat psychologists have been studying the military and police officers for years, and the ones who rehearsed their actions prior to a gunfight or physical fight came out better than the ones who didn't. If you get assaulted, you're going to be scared, adrenaline will be shooting through your veins, and you'll lose your fine motor control skills. This is where taking a self-defense course is handy, so you can learn defensive moves and have the chance to practice them, and if you ever find yourself assaulted, you'll have an easier time defending yourself and getting away.

Attitude: Be aware of your surroundings. Now, that doesn't mean that you have to walk around looking like a scared bunny rabbit, but know where the people are around you, where the cars are, where the lighting is. Above all, don't live in fear of being attacked. Paranoia can do funny things to you, including preventing you from taking gigs where you might have to travel alone or far away to. Don't think like a victim, and you won't be a victim.

Just a few changes to your behavior can help you walk without fear, and keep you and your dance sisters and brothers safe. There's always safety in numbers, but every dancer should know how to keep herself safe when she's alone--and if you follow the above tips, you'll be that much safer.

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