1. See Potuoğlu-Cook (2006) on the attendant tensions between Islamist and secular moral designs involved in Istanbul’s neo-Orientalist urban refashioning, and particularly, in belly dance marketing.

2. Although my analysis echoes Nieuwkerk’s (1995) class- and gender- sensitive study of Egyptian belly dance, it differs from hers in the emphasis on dance and music vocabulary, a topic underdeveloped in Nieuwkerk’s work. In her own words, Nieuwkerk (1995:16) discloses having “neither the vocabulary nor the knowledge about intricacies of the trade.” Confessing to lack of dance fluency, Nieuwkerk does not effectively link on-stage musical and kinetic intricacies or styles with her ethnographic analysis. She thus overlooks the mutual constitution of aesthetic preference and social difference in and through belly dance praxis.

3. At almost all other tourist venues, live music – often played on a keyboard-- is reserved for the MC’s final song session. Except for Orient House and Kervansaray, a downtown restaurant, no other venue employs musicians to accompany belly dance or folk dance. Such decisions reside with the owners’ goal of minimizing expenses or the dancers’ aversion to less pay: more musicians mean less pay for the dancer.

4. Visit the main webpage of Orient House for the visual rhetoric on belly dancers: http://www.orienthouseistanbul.com/main.htm

5. For parallel histories where dance plays a central role in tourism industry’s commodification of the exotic and erotic, see Marta Savigliano (1995) on tango and Jane Desmond (1998) on hula dancing.

6. In an earlier interview, Carli gives me his business card that reads: “Your Ramadan drummer and agent Carli provides performers for various special occasions such as birthday, engagement, and wedding parties.” Given the economic strains of musicianship, some musicians work as agents in addition to doing multiple gigs a night. Rom darbuka player Erkan Tokmak is a well-known musician-agent.

7. Here I use Roma as an ethnic collectivity and Rom as an adjective designating ethnic performances and processes. In the field, Istanbul performers often chose to self-identify as Roman rather than çingene as the latter is associated with demeaning official, media, and social stereotypes. However, I have also witnessed some Rom performers humorously banter each other as cingene, diffusing the term’s power, while others used cingene to refer to the “lesser” Roma. Self-ascription as Roman signaled either a gender or class privilege as well as a steady or booming career with the incentive to market ethnic flavors to the new urban elite or world music/dance consumers. Other Rom performers, particularly struggling female deliberately concealed their Rom identity in order to escape stigmatization. Hence, individual strategies vary depending on the context and the target audience. For instance, Sema Yıldız, a non-Rom former belly dancer, agent, and teacher who grew up with a Rom community in Karagümrük, deliberately escapes Rom association in the local nightclub circuit but capitalizes on it to lure foreign dance students. I borrow the latter insight from one of the anonymous reviewers.

8. This differs from more traditional Rom steps I’ve watched and performed at weddings and familial gatherings. Despite individual variations, I have mostly observed vertical belly thrusts in contrast to more varied hip and belly moves of a cabaret belly dance style. The feet often emphasize the downbeat while participants sway to shift weight, linger and hop on the fourth and fifth beats. Dancers swiftly draw semi-circles in the air with their feet to accentuate such suspensions. Simultaneously, women make associative and gendered gestures, grounded in mundane tasks such as doing the laundry, wiping sweat off of the forehead, or spanking the baby. The dance often takes place in gender-segregated contexts. In a gender mixed context, women face each other rather than the crowd.

9. The difference between Rom and Turkish classical belly dance routines can be loosely defined as a matter of musical and kinetic choices. While Rom dance is a social form danced to fast or slow tempo 9/8 tunes, the Turkish belly dance is a professional form that incorporates other styles as varied as 8/4 çiftetelli, Arabic baladi, and urban pop music. Rom dance vocabulary emphasizes bouncy and vigorous belly thrusts embellished with intricate foot patterns and associative gestures, including finger snapping. In contrast, concert belly dance emphasizes refined and accented hip, torso, and arm isolations combined in polyrhythmic and polycentric ways. Another difference is spatial arrangement: social Rom dancers use limited space with inward earthy movement with weight on one foot while most belly dancers strive to expand into space with wide arm movements and centered turns. It is hard to speak of absolutes as Rom dancers migrate between their social communities and the belly dance circuit, generating cross-fertilization of both styles across various performance domains.

10. For a comparative case, see Jane Sugarman (2003:98-103) on the historical prevalence of Rom entertainers in the Balkans.

11. Such developments ranged from severe economic crises - 1994 and 2001 - and escalating unemployment to 1999 Earthquake, from the Kurdish problem of the 1990s to the worldwide implications of 9/11 and to the Iraqi War. The November 2003 bombings in Istanbul also affected the nightlife scene.

12. This is not to say that Rom musicians have not been socially marginalized. Rather, I emphasize how gender ideologies can and do exacerbate ethnic stigmatization with regards to female performers.

13. Extras are mostly lucrative one-time gigs such as weddings, birthday parties, or yearly corporate gatherings.

14. Due to the unrecorded nature of this work, there are no statistics at hand. This estimate of belly dancers, frequenting Istanbul entertainment venues, is based on myriad interviews with dancers, agents, musicians, dance teachers, as well as restaurant, gazino, and tourist club owners.

15. Recorded interview, 8 October 2003.

16. Roads to keşan was originally co-produced by Istanbul-based Kalan Müzik with Selim Sesler and Sonia Seeman. Sesler’s band, Trakya’nin Sesi, strives to preserve hometown melodies and to package them for World Music markets.

17. Sesler’s exact words were: “Konser vermek, terbiyeli çalmak. Soliste çalmak, refakat etmek. Dansöze çalmak, şarlatanlik. […] Ücü de ayrıdır.”

18. See Beken (2003) for the origins and aesthetic underpinnings of gazino (Turkish nightclub) culture in general and belly dance as a gazino genre in particular: http://www.muspe.unibo.it/period/MA/index/number8/gazino/bek_00.htm

19. Recorded interview, 2 October 2003. Tokmak also tells me he played for countless renowned art music vocalists (Sevim Çaglayan, Zeki Müren) and belly dancers (Nana, Aysel Tanju, Özcan Tekgül, Inci Birol) in gazinos and private parties during his half-century-long career. Frequently touring to Cairo in the 1960s, he closely watched famous Egyptian percussionists and belly dancers as well as their stage interaction.

20. As a central attraction, the belly dancer receives most of the tips at such events. In general, Turkish tipping practice varies contextually. Tipping in family gatherings indexes appreciation as the elders reward young children by sticking bank notes on their forehead. In tourist clubs, where the audience is separated from the belly dancer, tips can be passed on via a waiter and manager. But tourist patrons often tip the dancers during the brief post-performance photo shoots. The clientele at extras, underground or upper-class taverns stuff the tips into the dancer’s costumes. The latter is erotically charged.

21. Conversation, 1 March 2003.

22. By intense conflicts, I refer to physically or verbally abusive interactions. My dancer and musician friends have repeatedly requested me to play the arbiter, intensifying the awkwardness of the situation.

23. Undertaken by chic hotels and promoted by tourism entrepreneurs, 1001 Night shows are mid-scale exotic productions that reify Ottoman performing arts and opulence with period décor and set design. As other post-1980s tourist shows, they center on belly dance and its Orientalist sensual associations to entertain and engage tourists. The entrance fee for Orient House was $60 at the time of my research.

24. Seeman (2002:355) argues that Rom musicians’ musical adaptability, or their ability to play multiple genres, is shaped by their historic role as “cultural brokers and musical mediators for diverse ethnic and linguistic communities.”

25. For the intersection among the dishonor of belly dance, Islam, and prevailing gender ideology in Egypt, see Karin van Nieuwkerk (1995). See also Nieuwkerk (2003:268).

26. There are exceptions to my statement. Engaging in world music projects, some Rom musicians and global labels have recently recast Sulukule in a positive light as the center of authentic Roma performance praxis. See Sulukule: Rom Music of Istanbul (Traditional Crossroads) featuring violinist Kemani Cemal : http://www.traditionalcrossroads.com/cd/4289.htm . Also see world-touring Sulukule Ensemble founded by clarinetist Hüsnü Senlendirici: http://www.cafeturc.com/index.php?dil=tr&sanatci=99.

27. Seeman’s account historicizes how the Byzantine, Ottoman, and contemporary Turkish political ideology and administration worked in tandem with social marginalization of Rom entertainers (2002: 94-163). She identifies two pervasive tropes of sexual and ethnic exoticization, characterizing the Roma as uncultivated nomads or morally degraded --licentious and decadent-- urban residents (200-201).

28. Most dancers characterized Arab audiences as “tough to please.” As opposed to Westerners, Arab tourists are already familiar with belly dance so they demand better technique and animation. A few dancers noted, however, that an enthusiastic and well-tipping Arab tourist is a source of pride, validating the dancer’s technical and performance competency.

29. Recorded interview, 22 October 2002.

30. For details of this ban, see a report by İbrahim Okumamiş in Radikal, a daily Turkish newspaper: http://www.radikal.com.tr/haber.php?haberno=36125&tarih=28/04/2002.

31. Olga is one among many Russian and East European dancers who have migrated out of necessity since the dissolution of communism in the 1990s. Unlike Olga, most foreign dancers work the pavyon circuit facing state-sanctioned and social everyday harassment, economic desperation, and in-club adversity from Turkish and Rom dancers. See (Gülcür and İlkkaracan 2002:412, 419) for the underpinnings of migration and the precarious position of undocumented Russian and East European women in the informal sector, particularly in the sex trade or small-scale export and import business.

32. The Egyptian baladi technique is passed onto her through her mentor Topkapı. Nesrin Topkapi reenacts combinations from her large collection of 1940s- 1950s’ Egyptian films that feature belly dance. Topkapı also tells me that her mother, a traveling performer, introduced her to Arabic music and dance after touring in Beirut (Interview, October 15th, 2002). Some other dancers of the tourist circuit pick up Egyptian or Arabic cabaret and baladi style on their travels to Beirut and/or Cairo. Prenses Banu, a contemporary of Topkapı and a famous dancer of the 1980s, still performs regularly in Cairo where she closely observes Dina’s latest moves. The lead dancer at tourist Kervansaray, Emmune has watched Arab music videos on satellite TV with me on multiple occasions. She enjoys mimicking Egyptian singer Ruby’s phrases and incorporates them into her routines.

33. Recorded interview, 22 February 2003.

34. Recorded interview, 22 February 2003.

35. Recorded interview, 18 January 2003.

36. In contrast, some well-respected retired dancers such as Nesrin Topkapı and Tülay Karaca regard their past collaborations with musicians at gazinos as exciting opportunities for spontaneous artistic exploration. Topkapı fondly recounted long rehearsals with Maksim musicians from which both parties artistically benefited. Tülay Karaca, a legendary zil player, confidently referred to musicians (at Klüp 12) as her students. She proudly contended she taught famous Balık Ayhan to play the darbuka: she often provided a rhythm with her zils and asked the musicians to emulate.

37. Recorded interview with Murat Akkaya, 29 January 2003. Akkaya is a self-employed producer and agent who owns Studio Quadro in beyoğlu. He has worked with almost every belly dancer in the tourist circuit in the last two decades.

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