When I read that a Northboro restaurant was having a hard time getting a license to offer belly dance entertainment to their clientele, I was not pleased. But my amazement was even larger when I read some of the quotes attribitted to Selectman Aaron Hutchins:
"If you are at the restaurant with your family and a belly dancer comes in, maybe that is not something you want to expose your children to. I know I certainly wouldn't.”

Full article here

So I drafted a letter to the editor. My hope is that Mr Hutchins will read it. Here goes my draft:


Dear Editor of Telegram.com

I was appalled to read that Northboro officials are so misinformed about “belly dance,” as Donna Boynton reports on a restaurant’s problems obtaining a license that would allow them to feature a belly dancer.

Belly dance is a misnomer for what the near East calls “Oriental Dance”, and it’s a stylized form of dance based on the folkloric dances performed by the people of the East. This dance is performed wearing expensive costumes, which may vary in how revealing they are, the same way that different people wear different lengths of skirts around the city, or different kinds of swim suits when they go to the beach.

The suggestion that belly dance could be related in any way to pornography is insulting and plain ignorant. Is belly dancing sexy? Sure, it may be. Tango is sexy. Flamenco is sexy. Hip hop is sexy. The dance is an expression of feelings of the music, and the music could be happy or sensual, sad or relaxing, and the mood of a good dancer will reflect those changes.

The fact that belly dancing could be sensual does not mean that it is specifically a dance of seduction. Middle Eastern families would hire a belly dancer to entertain at their weddings. It is considered a blessing and definitely something that they would expose their whole families to, including the children. The little ones are usually as amazed to see a belly dancer in costume as when they see a super hero impersonator come to entertain at their birthday parties.

Town officers watched a video to research belly dancing. What kind of video did they consider? Did Selectman Aaron Hutchins make a poor evaluation based on a poor source of information? If he were presented with the most wonderful belly dance performance, would he still compare it to pornography? Maybe those officials could deepen their research a bit more before expressing their views publicly, especially since their views will then result in rules that the whole city needs to live by.

Sincerely yours,

Seyyide Sultan, a belly dancer in the Boston area