Yelled At By Venue Owners

Ah, venue owners. They are the bane of a Bellydancer’s existence. While we can’t do without them - they give Bellydance performers much of their work after all - they are so often (not always, certainly, but often) total jerks.

For many years I refused to put up with their crap and would get into arguments with said jerks. Now (being a little older and, thankfully, a little wiser) I realise that if I refuse to work for jerks, I pretty much won’t work at all.

So while putting up with abuse is not what I’m suggesting you do (no way!), I am suggesting that you keep your distance. In my experience, the more distant you are, the less familiar with you venue owners feel and the less likely they are to act like jerks.

It’s a fact that some people unfortunately believe that once they know someone to a certain degree and feel comfortable with them, they can treat that person any way they like. People of this mindset seem to think that to know someone is licence to abuse them at a whim. I, of course, reject this idea completely. In fact, while I would say that being pleasant to everyone is ideal, if I had to lean towards one direction I’d say that the more you know a person the nicer you should be to them - not the other way around.

But, back to specifics. My advice to Bellydance performers is to be pleasant, polite, and professional…and no more. Stick with perfunctory conversation and keep to yourself as much as possible.

Now, as a naturally chatty person, I must admit that I actually find it very hard to take my own advice: it’s easier said than done to remain reserved if it’s not your normal disposition. But I’ve learnt the hard way that the road to Bellydancer Hell is paved with chitchat to venue owners, so I strive to stay distant (but without being unfriendly).

Having said all that, I have to add this disclaimer: keeping to yourself as I’m suggesting will not necessarily save you from the wrath of an irritated venue owner. The restaurant business is stressful and venue owners are under a lot of pressure and therefore on edge much of the time. While this partially explains their tendency towards being jerks (and again, I must point out that not all are like this, but there’s a reasonably high population of them out there, believe me!), it is in NO WAY an excuse for them to misbehave. What I’m getting at is that even if you take my advice it (unfortunately) won’t give you instant immunity from verbal abuse by venue owners.

I experienced this recently. It was my very first time at this particular restaurant and I got yelled at by the manager 20 seconds before my performance. What I had done to ‘provoke’ this tirade was tell the staff that I was ready to go on stage. This guy screamed at me for supposedly putting pressure on the staff. He told me that I had no right to tell them I’m ready to dance and that I was to wait until the restaurant was good and ready for me perform.

(As an aside: it’s so shocking to me that someone is so stupid as to yell at a performer before she goes on stage. Even if you’re not a performer I’m sure you can imagine that getting yelled at is the absolute last thing you need before a show. I mean, did this guy not want the show to go well? Argh!)

Anyway, ever professional, I put on my happy face and did my best performance. To add some strangeness to the mix, the guy who yelled at me gave me the thumbs up mid-performance and clapped me off stage telling me I’d done a wonderful job!

Of course I was glad that, despite everything, my performance went well. And I’d still go back again if I’m asked to fill in at that particular restaurant - because, as I said before, if I refuse to work for jerks I pretty much won’t work at all. But I’ll forever be cold and curt in my dealings with them: my ‘distant-yet-friendly’ policy changed to simply ‘distant’ after the unprovoked verbal abuse I copped.

So, as you can see, you can be as careful as careful can be, but unfortunately it’s no guarantee that a venue owner won’t turn on you. Still, I believe it will help overall so I hope that you do take my advice and go by the motto: pleasant, polite, professional…but, beyond that, keep yourself.

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Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance

It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.

Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.

Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.

Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.

Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.

If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.

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