OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA — Cue the music at Zorba’s Restaurant on Saturday nights.
Every week 3 or 4 belly dancers do their thing for generally delighted customers.
Some patrons get a little squirmy.
You try to get a dollar bill into a dancer’s tight waistband that’s shaking all over the place.
It’s not easy, especially when a lot of other restaurant patrons are looking on.
But people are good sports.
The dancing is more impressive than erotic.
For dancer Tsevi Amar (her performing name), it’s just another night out with the girls.
“It’s very nice to be with friends,” she says later, “And great to be dancing with friends.”
Belly dancing is a style that shakes right on back to the days of sheiks and harems.
But the first belly dancers didn’t dance for the sheiks.
They danced for each other.
Other modern dancers like Aini Amar (also her dance name) say that’s still kind of what they do now.
She says, “When you go to belly dance shows you’ll notice that the women in the audience tend to enjoy the show more than the men do.”
Aini and Tsevi are part of Aalim Najim, Oklahoma’s only professional belly dance troupe.
Another member, Jahari Amar, has been belly dancing since high school when her mom dragged her in to try it with her.
All of the women in the troupe argue that having a little extra fat around the hips actually helps.
“Well yeah,” smiles Aini. “Women are supposed to have a few curves.”
Aalim Najim has made a name for themselves of late, winning a big contest in Dallas last year.
In February, 2014 we found them practicing for the biggest of belly dancing titles.
Right after Valentines Day every year, The Belly Dancer of the Universe contest is held on Long Beach, California.
A title there would really put the jiggle in the middle of the country for belly dance prestige.
The troupe practices twice a week, 2 or 3 hours at a time.
It’s good practice, they say.
Good fellowship too, and if they can actually win Belly Dancer of the Universe, the world will beat a path to their tent.
Aalim Najim practices out of a studio on North Meridian in Oklahoma City.
For more information go to http://www.aalimdanceworld.com/aboutus.htm.
For more information about the Belly Dancer of the Universe competition go to http://www.bellydanceroftheuniverse.com/