Working with a Bellydancer: A Guide for Restaurant Staff

Working with a Bellydancer: A Guide for Restaurant Staff

We are all here to give our customers the best possible experience. Let’s work together to achieve that!

For waitstaff, it can be helpful to remember that the dancer is only there about 20 minutes. Because of this, the performance is not intended as background music or just setting the scene. It’s actually meant to completely capture the attention of our customers during that time. For this 20 minutes, our customers are not just regular restaurant clients; they are the audience in a show! We can enhance their experience by helping them to focus on the performance. This actually makes your job easier for a little while.

Anything that distracts the audience – taking orders, delivering drinks or food – will diminish their experience of the dancing. So do your best to avoid serving customers during the show.

Structure of the performance

In restaurants that don’t have a large dancefloor, the dancer moves around to spend time at each table (or area). At Kazbah, for instance, Rachel’s show usually looks something like this:

  • Announcement, letting customers (and you!) know what’s happening
  • Entrance, intended to grab the attention of everyone in the restaurant
  • A couple of songs in the upper section (and perhaps the private room)
  • A sword piece (usually performed in front of the servery) for the whole restaurant to see
  • The last part of the show in the lower section

When you hear the announcement, it’s your cue to change how you work for a short while.

– During times that are meant to be for all the guests (sections 1, 2 and 4 above), avoid taking any orders or serving any food or drinks in the whole restaurant.

– When the dancer is in a particular area, avoid serving that area. Never serve a table that she’s currently dancing for. She’ll only be in that spot for a maximum of one song, so let the customers enjoy their special time. Their food and drinks can wait a minute.

Moving around the dancer:

Dance is movement! It involves lots of steps, turns, flourishes, arm movements etc. When props such as a veil, fans, sword or sticks are involved, it takes up even more space. Often, the movements are unpredictable (this makes it interesting to watch!). Kazbah is tiny, and the dancer is trying to make the most of the little space that’s available.

If you’re not serving tables while she’s dancing, you won’t have to move around as much anyway. But when you do need to, it’s safest to avoid squeezing past her: take a different path, if you can. If you can’t, then make sure the dancer knows you’re there by making eye contact – don’t ever assume she can see you otherwise. During the sword balancing dance, keep a bigger distance and never squeeze behind her because the dancer can’t turn her head to see you. She might turn or swing the sword suddenly, and it could be dangerous.

Avoid spoiling a finale. When it’s nearly the end of a song, just wait a minute until a more convenient time. (As you get familiar with the music, you’ll get a better sense of the endings.)

The dancer isn’t being a diva, she’s just doing her job, just like you are. So let’s find ways to make it the best for everyone.

Thanks! I hope this makes things easier for all of us, and better for our customers!

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