Gifts for the Belly Dancer in your Life

I originally wrote this on the (now-defunct) articles section of my website around Christmastime 2010, but felt that it might come in handy for those looking for Mother’s Day and Graduation Gifts for those special sparkly people in our lives.


Have the holidays got you crying SOS? Looking for something special for that shimmy sister? Finding only cheesy “How to be a belly dancer” kits near the checkout at Borders?

With only a few shopping days left, here are five easy gift ideas for the belly dancer in your life that are guaranteed to have them smiling. Whether you’re an off-the-shelf shopper or ready to roll up your sleeves and get creative, there’s something for every taste and budget.

Instant Belly Dancer Bag

Running from gig to gig and rehearsal to rehearsal can get crazy, and sometimes you forget things along the way. Make sure your dancer is always prepared by making an “Instant Belly Dancer Bag.” Stop by your local pharmacy for travel-sized essentials like hairspray, makeup wipes, lotion, tissues, perfume, mirror, bandaids, and nailpolish, then add in extras like mints, safety pins and a mini sewing kit (you never know when a costume might break!). Put them all in a pretty bag and your dancer is ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Shimmy Scrapbook

Najla's Shimmy Scrapbook

Put together an album with photographs from shows, programs, ticket stubs and everything else that will bring back fabulous memories of dances past. Not so crafty? Get a big photo album and glue some pre-made beaded trim from the craft store on it.

Practice Wear

Sahara tie-top from Off the Nile

For most belly dancers, it’s all about the sparkly costumes, which means that we end up practicing in the same old pair of yoga pants all the time! Considering all the rehearsal time that dancers spend in the studio, cute workout clothes are a great gift for the beginning dancer and professional alike. Find a simple, sleek outfit at Target, or splurge and get them a fancy set from dancer-friendly companies like Sharifwear, Dahlal or L. Rose Designs. Check out the dancerwear I have in my online shop for ideas.

The Gift of Dance

As much as we all love to dance, the economy sometimes makes it hard for us to afford to go to class on a regular schedule. Help your favorite dancer shimmy in the New Year with a certificate for classes at her studio of choice, or for a private lesson with her favorite instructor. No studios in your area? Surprise her with a DVD! Check out Cheeky Girls, World Dance New York, and IAMED for instructional and performance videos in a wide range of styles.


What better way is there to relax after all that rehearsing in your new practice gear than with a massage? Make a DIY coupon redeemable for a massage, or go all out and book a day at the spa.


BDTA: Tabla app (review)

Screenshot of the Tabla iPhone app

Sometimes apps can be fun and educational, and the Tabla app by Fredo fits that definition. This onscreen drum also comes with a digital drum pad, finger cymbals and a bellydancer who moves with each beat, as well as full in-app instructions that teach you how to play your iPhone like a real drum.

While the lite (aka free) version gives you only a doum and a tek, the full version allows you to use all five parts of the drum and finger cymbals to play along to your favorite songs on the iPod, or to pick out new rhythms.

Platforms: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch

What can I expect to hear? Doum doum tek-a tek doum tek-a tek tek-a…

What kind of dancers would like this app? All kinds of dancers and musicians.

Recommended by Najla? yes

Price: Lite version, free. Full version, $1.99

Where can I get it? Download Tabla on iTunes

PS. What rhythm was that?

BDTA: Belly Dance Stars app (review)

Screenshot of the Belly Dance Stars app

Ever have that feeling of deja vu? The Belly Dance Stars app will give you that “haven’t I see this before?” feeling, and maybe even leave you scratching your head.

Billing itself as “A collection of 10 videos of the Worlds most popular Belly Dance Artistes,” this app simply contains ten videos: three by Shakira, two by Rachel Brice, two by Sadie, one by Didem, one by Aziza, one by Dancing with the Stars (huh?) and a final clip by Super Stars, which I guess means Belly Dance Super Stars. So it’s really a collection of 11 clips, several of which are marked as being from 2008, which leads me to wonder…why?

What does this app give us that YouTube or some of the many beautifully produced dance DVDs don’t already provide? Save your money to buy a CD or DVD from one of the artists in these videos.

Platforms: Android

Recommended by Najla? No.

Price: $1.59

Where can I get it? Download the Belly Dance Stars app here.

It’s “hip” to be a belly dancer in New York City

A big thank you to the ladies of for asking me to write a guest column on the top ten “must-dos” for any belly dancer visiting the Big Apple. Here’s a preview of the article:

New York City is every belly dancer’s dream. Where else can you find a city that allows you to dance, shop, and indulge your every sparkly desire 24/7? Here are some of my “musts” for dancers visiting the Big Apple.

1. Learn from a legend…or a rising star
I can’t even begin to try to list all of the incredible dance teachers who hang their hip scarf here, not to mention the pantheon of international dance stars who frequently come for workshops. Instead, here’s just a taste of who you can learn from: Morocco, the ladies of Bellyqueen, Mimi Fontana (Manhattan Tribal), Ranya Renee, Elena Lentini, Tarik Sultan, Dalia Carella…and many, many more.

Intrigued? Read the whole article here:

Najla’s NYC Top 10 for Belly Dancers For

BDTA: Radio Bastet podcasts & app (review)

Radio Bastet

Radio Bastet (run by Marisa) is a self-proclaimed “Vintage Belly Dance Music” station that plays the best belly dance music from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. What makes Radio Bastet so unique is that this music is all from vintage vinyl–yes, belly dance vinyl!–making it a great resource for hard-to-find or out of print albums.

In podcast form, there are over 70 episodes available, each featuring over an hour of fantastic music. Since these are podcasts, there is a little DJ narration, but besides that, it’s party time old-school! Podcasts themselves don’t contain song information, but the podcast blog page gives you artist, song and album names from each show.

Screenshot of the Radio Bastet Android App

Right now, the app is only available for Android phones. Here are the specs, from the app page itself:

* Streaming access to play episodes from anywhere
* Always updated with the latest episodes- and an archived back catalog
* Playback resume (when interrupted by a call or other distraction)
* Access to exclusive extras like PDFs, wallpapers, and bonus content
* Quick access to all the contact methods for the show like call, email, web, Facebook, and Twitter

The app includes song information for each episode!

Platforms: Podcasts, all mobile platforms and desktop. Web, streaming radio. App, Android-only, for now. iPhone app coming soon (pretty please?)! iPhone users can listen to the podcasts using the iPod app that comes with their phone.

Multi-tasking: Yes.

Song titles/artist names: Podcasts: none onscreen, available on the podcast blog. App: available onscreen!

What can I expect to hear? lush orchestrations, Eddie “The Shiek” Kochak, live recordings

What kind of dancers would like this podcast & app? Cabaret, Egyptian, Orientale, vintage American Cabaret, Vintage Orientale

Recommended by Najla? Yes.

Price: Podcasts, free. Android App, $1.99

Where can I get it? Podcasts are available on the podcast blog or on iTunes. Android app available here.