A quick escape back in time

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon an advert for a Vintage Fair at the Year Fair (an exhibition and convention center in Utrecht, NL). Since both me and the boyfriend are avid lovers (or at least fairly eager enthusiasts) of old, dusty things, we decided that we should go there. We’d never been at a Vintage Fair before and were both quite curious. He was going to have a look for old cameras, I was going to look for old jewelry and potential belly dance gear.

Last saturday The Day had arrived. We decided to get up at a reasonable time in the morning. Even though it would sincerely intrude on our sleepy-saturday-rituals, we figured it was going to be worth it. So we went and took that chance with a couple of moans and puffs and soon we were on our way. After having driven for about an hour or so we made it into Utrecht. Parked the car and headed for the entrance amid thousands of other people, all out scavenging for the next addition to their cabinets of memories.

Inside we found 4 big halls stuffed with centuries of clothes, table silver, colonial finds, toys, music and even -cars-. It was massive and we spent the entire afternoon slowly wading our way through a huge, lovely and gorgeous variety of goods.

A quick snapshot overview of what it was like:

From left to right, top to bottom:

  1. Old Cameras! The boyfriend had serious issues keeping his wallet closed here.
  2. A puppet-show! Can you imagine the fun kids have had watching someone play with this?.. The thought alone brings a smile to my face.
  3. Old fashioned exotic dancers gear. Do you see that blue thing hanging on the right side of the doll? I tried to unfold it and see what it exactly was. Turned out it was quite an explicit leotard. Only blue strings of garment (elastic bands with sequins) that were drapped over the body with tiny, see-through ladies panties attached. Talking about hot, huh?
  4. This thing was too expensive for my wallet, but that’s another thing I would’ve loved to get. A vintage Afghan tribal belt. It was -stunning-.
  5. Dedicated to my sister and her husband, who’re genuinely addicted to anything related to the Japanese culture. And old fashioned Samurai armor. Not entirely sure if it’s ever been used or not, or if it’s just ornamental. 
  6. A Jean Paul Gaultier skirt. It was gorgeous, half transparent and I’ve not very often seen colors this bright and luminescent on clothes. A wonderful find. It wasn’t my size, but I would’ve definitely thought about buying it if it had been! 
  7. Travel gear! I showed this picture to my aunt and as I showed it her eyes lit up and she nodded in acknowledgement. That’s how it was, apparently!

After having spent 5 hours wandering about we went home again. Tired, but satisfied. If you ever find yourself in the vicinity of Utrecht and there so happens to be a Vintage Fair I completely recommend going there.. We had an awesome time.

History of Dance: The Serpentine Dance (1896)

During my adventures of diving into the world of belly dance and its history, the following has left me quite breathless today. I stumbled upon a movie made in 1896 by the Lumière brothers; a frame by frame hand coloured stunning piece of art.

Click this link to see the film -> Danse Serpentine

Background information

The Serpentine is an evolution of the skirt dance, a form of burlesque dance that had recently arrived in the United States from England. Skirt dancing was itself a reaction against “academic” forms of ballet, incorporating tamed-down versions of folk and popular dances like the can-can. The new dance was originated by Loïe Fuller, who gave varying accounts of how she developed it. By her own account, which is widely reported, having never danced professionally before, she accidentally discovered the effects of stage light cast from different angles on the gauze fabric of a costume she had hastily assembled for her performance in the play Quack M.D., and spontaneously developed the new form in response to the audience’s enthusiastic reaction upon seeing the way her skirt appeared in the lights. During the dance she held her long skirt in her hands, and waved it around, revealing her form inside.

The Serpentine Dance was a frequent subject of early motion pictures, as it highlighted the new medium’s ability to portray movement and light. Two particularly well-known versions were Annabelle Serpentine Dance (1894), a performance by Broadway dancer Annabelle Whitford from Edison Studios, and an 1896 Lumière brothers film of Fuller performing the dance. Many other filmmakers produced their own versions, distributing prints that had been hand-tinted to evoke (though not quite reproduce) the appearance of colored light projection. (Source Wikipedia)

I think -this- is what genuine, bedazzling entertainment looks like. Isn’t just everything gorgeous about this?

I didn’t know Belly Dance was -this- old.

In my previous post about Greek Folkoric Belly Dance – Tsifteteli my newfound friend and master at digging up history Miriambatshimeon refered me to the following document: Dance in the Ancient Mediterranean: the Roman Period – Part One (by Ruth Webb)

Reading it, I was instantly very impressed and slightly overwhelmed. To be practicing an art that’s been dated way back to the 1st century AD, is quite a strange but powerful feeling. To be in a line of so many women that have danced, lived and breathed belly dance before me, is something I can’t quite comprehend. It’s massive and I’ve only begun to discover what it will mean to -me-.

Veiled Dancer - Alexandria, Egypt 3rd-2nd century BC, Metropolitan Museum of Art

It shows that there’s much to learn. Especially with me being Dutch and belly dance absolutely not being part of our culture, it makes me wonder how much else is out there that would’ve passed me by if I hadn’t finally just given it a go with all these other cultures. It also shows that it just takes time to develop. Back in those days it was mostly arabic, egyptian, you know.. those sorts. But look at it; nowadays ATS for instance is a relatively (understatement much?) new concept in belly dance, but it’s certainly a recognised form, right? So I think I’m going to introduce a whole new thing in the belly dance world. Belly Dance – the Dutch Way. And I’m going to call it Raqs Clog. Maybe in 19 centuries from now someone will find out about that age old tradition that once appeared so long ago in the Netherlands… Dum-dum-DUM! Think I might have found the path to Eternal Fame there?

But on a more serious note; finding writings like these and expanding your mind a bit more is also just another way of realising that we’re here for only a brief moment but that we’re never alone. And that many have gone before us and many waiting to follow.

Thank you lovely belly dancers from the past for giving me something to do! 

On a bit of a tangent but not completely irrelevant: I ordered Demons and Dancers: Performance in Late Antiquity, also by Ruth Webb. Can’t wait to have a look. Once I’ve read into it I’ll let you know what it’s like; maybe other history-slash-dance-freaks like me would enjoy it too.

So: to be continued!