Belly dancing is one of the most fascinating styles of dance in Egypt, however Egyptians tend to make it as a secret and do not accept speaking about it because it’s against their religion. Girls can learn and dance among them but should never perform in public, doing so it’s a dishonor for the family. Belly dance it’s seen in Egypt as a form of prostitution.
However Cairo is known as the global capital of belly dancing and foreigners come to Cairo to pursue the dream. Cairo it’s considered the Hollywood for belly dance. Considering the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence in Egyptian politics, many are concerned that belly dancing might become more restricted in Egypt. This is happening already; even dance schools are restricting belly dance classes. In Egypt you will never find a belly dance school like in US or Spain and TV stations do not transmit belly dance unless it’s in a movie scene.
Belly dancing (Raqs Sharqi) became popular in Cairo’s nightclubs in the 1940s. Casino Badia, in Cairo, was one of the country’s most famous cabarets at that time. Opened and run by a woman, it imitated European-style cabarets. During the 1950s, famous belly dancers including Samia Gamal, Tahyia Karioka and Naima Akef marked themselves as pioneers of belly dancing in Egypt. From 1960 to 1980, the booming Egyptian film industry centered on belly dancers. Since the 1980s, the Egyptian film industry bloomed with belly dance performances until other dancers, like Fifi Abdou, Sohair Zaki and Nagwa Fouad started to perform in a full live band and a stage set-up. These dancers continued to preserve the basic movements of belly dancing
A belly dancer receives a minimum of EGP 5,000 for performing at a wedding; in a nightclub a dancer receives no more than EGP 2,000, but also receives a share of the money thrown at her by clients during her performance, which is called “Kate” in the Arabic slang used in night clubs. Note that belly dancers have to pays taxes and sometimes owners from hotels do not make them and belly dancers are fined. Also they need to obtain a license from the performing arts trade union, an application with a copy of the contract from work place must be submitted, which has to be approved by the Ministry of Labor, and a clearance from the morals police (to prove the belly dancer was never involved in any prostitution cases.
No one knows the future of belly dance in Egypt but I believe that only few hotels will remain doing so and targeting tourism only. Classes will continue but behind closed doors.