Barbara Christian

The history is slim and the meaning uncertain, but belly dancing is here to stay and may be appearing at a Valley Art Center’s Art by the Falls outdoor festival in June.

“We couldn’t buy publicity like this,” VAC Executive Director Mary Ann Breisch said last week in response to the tumult in a teacup caused on local social media.

It began when out of the blue, Lady No. 1 told all those tuned in that she hoped the art center had not re-invited belly dancers for this year’s June 8 and June 9 outdoor festival. The arts and fine crafts event in Riverside Park was simply no place for such a performance, she opined. Oh, the children!

So will there be a repeat performance this year? “Will we or won’t we?” Mary Ann responded: “Everyone will just have to come out and see for themselves.”

She wasn’t the only one cracking wise over the belly dancers bruhaha. By bedtime, local folks had logged in more than 80 comments on the subject.

Some supported Lady No. 1 in her right to feel embarrassed while others took the opportunity to good naturedly needle her.

Honestly, on thinking about this in depth, it’s miraculous that those who are embarrassed by an ancient Egyptian folk dance were ever able to procreate. But that’s none of my business.

Granted, belly dancing is not the polka or the hora but was it meant to be as sexy as it looks? Couldn’t find the answer to that, but we did learn belly dancing was once practiced by men and women wearing street clothes and nary a navel in sight.

Meanwhile, back on social media, Guy No. 1 feigned anger at the prospect a belly dance performed at the art festival might be raided by police flashing a warrant for indecent exposure.

“What am I supposed to do if belly dancers are banned? I just got my belly waxed!”

The idea of banning belly dancers was a slippery slope and wondered if Art by the Falls would ban pottery if someone found that art form distasteful. Folks, we are not making this up.

Then Guy No. 2 suggested pole dancing as an alternate but is it an art form? No, chimed in Lady No. 2. “Pole-dancing stands on its own as a provisionally recognized sport, including the Olympics.”

Really? Who knew, but see? Social media can be enlightening.

Lady No. 3 tried to add calm and class to the discussion by noting: “Belly Dancing is great for several reasons (as a) creative platform and totally fits the vibe of the (art) show (and) the girl that runs the (belly dance) troupe is local so it’s another person in the community showing off their form of art.”

Unimpressed and sticking to her original premise, the embarrassed woman – aka Lady No. 1 – suggested the belly dancer be replaced by country music or a jazz band.

Guy No. 1 saw his opening and took it suggesting a compromise. “How about a belly dancer with cowboy boots and hat playing a saxophone?”

Finally, Guy No. 4 put the discussion in perspective with a lesson learned in his youth.

“When I was young, my family moved from Chicago to a small town in Utah. I was shocked to learn that dancing had been banned by the city council. 

“To make a long story short, we decided to put on our senior prom at a grain mill just outside the city limits as a way to skirt the ban. Despite a scuffle amongst some of the attendees, we ended up having a great time.”

“Wait a minute, wasn’t that a Kevin Bacon movie?”Another social media-ite asked.

“I have great affection for this little village and those in it,” Mary Ann Breisch philosophized.

A veteran reporter and columnist, Barbara Christian has been covering Chagrin Falls since 1967 and is currently responsible for Chagrin Falls village events, government and school board news along with her weekly column "Window on Main Street."

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