Recently, I was fortunate enough to be asked to stage a small belly dance performance at the grand opening of the new Tasty Buddha restaurant here in Gainesville. The Tasty Buddha folks always have artwork hanging for sale in the restaurants, and a percentage of those sales is donated to charity.  The new location is no different, the event was lots of fun, and to kick things off, all the tips earned, and a hefty percentage of art sales from the opening were donated to the Pace Center for Girls.

Overall things went well – no technical difficulties with the sound system, no costume malfunctions, and a fun time had by all.  The worst ‘problem’ was having so big a crowd to try to dance through!  (Which is hardly a problem at all when it’s a grand opening and the whole point is to draw a crowd!)  All the patrons were very nice and helped me out by scooting chairs/moving purses/stepping to the side/etc if they saw me coming through.  The only real mishap is that I managed to walk out the door without my tip basket, a travesty since I was collecting tips for the restaurant’s chosen charity as part of the performance engagement, and I wanted to be sure I could collect a lot of them. ;-)  Thankfully, the kitchen staff came to the rescue with a big shiny silver bowl that is normally used for salad.  It balanced pretty well, was huge and shiny, and reflected the color from my hair flowers.  Overall a very suitable substitute, and the day was saved.

There were lots of folks at the opening, including several kids.  One of them, a shy little girl, kept following me around.  I’d turn around, and there she was, looking up a me with an *almost* smile.  Sometimes she’d tap on me to get my attention.  She seemed very shy, and wouldn’t speak in response to me, she’d just smile and nod or shake her head.  She didn’t want to dance with me, but she definitely stayed close by.  Her mom was usually nearby as well, encouraging the little girl to answer and to dance, but the little girl didn’t want to.  My husband ended up getting to speak to the little girl’s mother, and it turned out that they came here from Egypt, where they saw belly dancers all the time, but they hadn’t seen any in a long time since they moved, and she was glad they came out that night because the little girl was very happy to see a belly dancer again.  When I heard that later after the show, I thought it was very cute.  In the past, kids at shows have been kind of fickle – they rush up to see this new and usually colorful thing, then get easily distracted and go back to playing – but this little girl was right there with me, no matter where in the restaurant I was, for both sets.  Adorable.

But, back to business – here are some pictures!  Since we can’t be serious all the time…especially when we’re balancing salad bowls on our heads, or being trailed by adoring children that we don’t want to trip, trip on, or trample, a few of these pictures were deliberately selected because they are a little bit silly.  I think it’s important to be a little bit silly every now and again.  I definitely enjoyed the event, and I hope you enjoy the photos!

Happy Dancing!