Case 1 - Overseas Job Offer


- message posted on the Internet and sent to various specific belly dancers on the Internet

"In the 20 yrs. I have been dancing , I have seen several proposals of this kind drift through. BE VERY CAREFUL. Dancers have gone to other countries only to loose their passports and find themselves in *other* lines of work. Ask yourself "Why would a 5* hotel be using the internet to locate dancers?" If you were looking to hire top quality dancers--how would you go about it? We had an offer for dancers on an island near Guam a few years back, the more info we got ...the weirder it got. Some dancers have done jobs in South Americia and though they did dance, the pay level made it hard to save the cash for the return trip.

"Check, check and check again all resources. Just a word of caution from some one who has been around a while to those who have not. Remember...if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!" --Zulaika

"There is an interesting article in the current issue of The Sistrum (Australia) about the adventures of three dancers who accepted a 3 month contract in Japan. It is right to your point." --Jerry

"I've only got time for a short reply (and I look forward to reading what I'm sure will be excellent responses to the 'what are the questions you should ask' query--probably *before* I get around to posting any such, sigh ;-), but I want to suggest another tack. Maybe a bit confrontational for some (not always a good plan in these other cultures ;-) but: sometimes when I want to test the waters, I send a bit of stuff--I'm *very* careful about what I send, re photos, addresses, etc--and add notes like "I always work by written contracts" or in a case like this, "of course my husband/business agent/someone will want to speak with you about arrangements, and I'll have such a person traveling with me..." ;-) and if they don't write back...;-) or if all you hear is pretty noises.... ;-)

"Example: I had an "agent" in a very hot club area contact me and promise me great prices for this club that was under new management. And travel. These prices were not totally unbelievable, so I sent him my promotional material, and added that I work by written contract (this was close by, in an area where I had friends--and by the way, asking to speak to other dancers who have worked there is an excellent approach--we really should all hang together, as many of the european dancers have learned). And I never heard from him again. ;-) Pretty words....written contracts aren't so easy to turn into "Oh, sorry, honey, I don't know what happened, people just didn't show up, let us just pay you x instead of y, we'll make it up the next show..."

"Example: one woman who called herself a professional worked for $20 (instead of $40--not that that was a great price for her 4-hour commute and 2 30-minute shows :-P ) instead of full pay for so long that, when they finally replaced her with an even cheaper, younger dancer :-P she was owed well over $300 dollars (I have the figures from her and her husband. I never walked in that club again; (I used to go to see her--wasn't working there THEN, trust me! ;-)...but that didn't help her at that point. Reeeaaalll professional, yeah, sure. :-P ;-) I DON'T let that happen to me. I DO use written contracts with club owners. Unless I know 'em real, real, real well. >;-> or the dancers bringing me in do, and will stand for it. Yes, I may get fewer jobs--but the ones I get DO pay...;-) your option.

"Contracts can be as simple as a letter, and they can be english-language. Books like "How To Write Consultant's Proposals and Contracts," available from:

Communication Services
210 Glen Ellyn Way
Rochester, NY 14618-1617
can be quite empowering. ;-) If they'll work for computer professionals, they are adaptable to us.

"Your call: written contract or no is not something I'll necessarily judge another dancer on. Just something I find helpful. I *do* strongly recommend it--*especially* for overseas!

">;-> another 'check out their reaction' tactic might be, "I'll have my lawyer check your contract and arrangements." >;-> She has a *lawyer?* eek! ;-)

"Yes, I know: many other cultures don't work this way. And some such arrangements are trustworthy. What do you care to stake on it?" --Shakira

"Written contracts are always a good idea, regardless of most any culture, when the parties are new to each other and there is a material financial exposure. There are excellent contract templates written specifically for danse orientale situations floating around for the past 20 years, perhaps we could submit them (with useful annotations) to our list-serv goddess for ftp access.

"[That would be fine; if folks have copies on disk, they can just email them to me directly at . They don't have to be in ASCII, I can store them in any document format. If you only have paper copies, please email me to discuss getting them on the Archive. Thanks -ecb]

"I recommend that you have a trusted Arab represent you in any exploration/negotiation/execution of a Middle-east dance gig. I also note that the guy seeking dancers [for work in Jordan] is not known to anyone I've spoken with in the Los Angeles dance community." -James Janner

"When I went to Saudi Arabia for the military, various sources informed me that the only place in the area I could find public belly dancing would be in Bahrain. Saudi Arabia doesn't even issue tourist visas, so this is not an area where there are massive amounts of international tourism. If I were contemplating accepting this job, the first thing I'd do is communicate with a Jordanian consulate to find out if public belly dancing is even legal there.

"If not, the job must be for a private audience. Working in the visa section of the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, I learned that it's not uncommon for a wealthy Arab to rent luxury hotel space by the floor for himself, family, guests and servants. Wonderful, but often the female servants/employees (usually from Third World nations such as the Philippines), not having any rights as women in Moslem countries, become slaves, working without pay indefinitely, and being forced, in the physical sense, to perform any service the employer wishes, to include, for example, providing his sons with their first hands-on heterosexual instruction.

"I would most strongly discourage any woman from traveling to this area unaccompanied by a male to whom she is legally bound, viz. a husband or father, or an employer - preferably a well-trusted Westerner!" --magdhur

"I've had some mail from this guy [seeking dancers for Jordan] too and responded just out of curiousity. When he started sending me mail and expressed an interest, I gave him the telephone # to my agent(my husband) at the NBC affiliate in Tulsa, and so far haven't heard anything. That was over 3 months ago." --Shadia

Re purported Jordan gig/any gig in any foreign country (& results of inquiries by 2 dancers already posted on this forum tell me it's NOT a legit gig offer):

  1. Make sure ROUNDTRIP AIRTICKET paid for & sent to you well beforehand.
    1. Never accept/use just a one-way ticket. You can bet you'll never get the other 1/2
    2. Once you have the ticket in your hot little paws, check with the airline & make sure the reservation/return trip is confirmed (not wait- listed or anything like that).
    3. Make a xerox copy of the ticket & leave it with a trusted friend here.

  2. Get a signed, notarized contract that states weekly salary in US dollars PLUS
    1. private room in a reputable hotel
    2. amount of shows/length of shows
    3. at least one day off per week
    4. renewal clause must include mutual option at very least, better if it's at your option or you can be forced to stay in a rotten job against your will.

  3. Make sure you will be able to leave that country at your will (for example, once you get into Saudi Arabia - where one would never get a regular gig as a dancer, by the way - your original Saudi MALE sponsor has to agree to & personally get you an exit visa or you ain't goin' nowhere!)

  4. Upon arrival, if it's during the day, or the very next day, go to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate & ask to speak to an official. Tell him/her who you are, what you're there for & give them a xerox of your passport & contract, hotel location, etc. & ask if it'll be OK to "check in" with him/her every 2-3 days, just to say hello. Say your mother or husband is a worrier & asked you to do it....... (I'm not kidding)

  5. NEVER, EVER, ever give up your passport to a "boss"/"agent". If it needs special stamps, go with them DURING THE DAY, out in the open, to whichever office has to do the stamping. Tell your Embassy "connection" where you're going & ask if it's really necessary or if the "boss" is snowing you....

  6. Unless you've made this sort of personal connection, don't ever assume the U.S. embassy or consulate will help you if there's trouble. (They probably still won't overtly intervene within the country, but might make discreet "inquiries" & advise a friend/relative in the US: don't want to believe me, read "Never Pass This Way Again" by Jean LePere & "Not Without My Daughter" by Betty Mahmoody.) They are there specifically to look after the political interests of the U.S. government & Jordan, for example, is a VERY important "ally", which must not be antagonized.

"A very few years ago, there was a horrible incident where a young Black American college student, on her way back from a skiing vacation in Colorado, was drugged & kidnapped out of the Denver airport onto a flight to Amman: the guys holding her up explained that she'd gotten "drunk". She was taken to Amman to be put in a brothel (Yes, it does happen!!!) & when she put up a fight, was beaten till they thought she was dead & thrown in a pile of garbage in an alley, where her moans were heard hours later. Her writer mother's detective work uncovered this (local US police were no help at all) & she went to Amman, Jordan. Only by the grace of God & a Jordanian policeman who took pity on her, did she find out what happened to her daughter & what hospital she was in. The US Embassy refused help & stonewalled. The daughter's head injuries & other broken bones were so bad, that she was still hospitalized 1 1/2 years later, when I saw the mother's interview on a TV show.

"Forgive me for posting such a "downer", but I don't want anybody to be hurt. If the job is legit, the contract/ticket/etc. + GOOD salary (minimum $US 1000 weekly) will be forthcoming. Better safe than sorry/dead/captive.............. ("Research"/experience doesn't always turn up fun info.)

"Be careful out there!" --Morocco

"I agree the work offer has to be approaced WITH CARE. I can just tell you what I have observed on a recent trip to the middle east. Tourism in Jordan has increased now that buses go to and from Israel and Amman at 3 crossing points. There are many tour buses now and also several times a week there are scheduled flights. So I think there might be a lot of tourists who expect to see Oriental dancers in Jordan. On Jordanian TV I did not see cabaret type BD. All of the dancers wore caftan type clothes and were covered from neck to toe. Scarves were used as decoration and you could not really see any of the moves except for the arms. They seemed to stand in one place and were there as part of the scenery for a male singer. I do not have the impression that belly dancing is part of the Jordanian dance scene. I am guessing when I say they might be looking for dancers to entertain the influx of American and European tourists at the 5 star hotels. Oh, and in keeping with todays topic, I do not recall anyone using zills!" --Zizi

"7) Would like to suggest one more safeguard.

The Internet can be a very powerful pursuader. Before leaving let several friends know what is happening AND that if you don't return by such-and-such a date, or your friends don't hear from you by such-and-such a date, that your message (where you have told everything about the gig - parties concerned - dates - etc.) WILL BE SPAMMED to all concerned newsgroups on the Internet WORLDWIDE.

[Well...if it's to concerned newsgroups it wouldn't be spam. If it were sent to, say,, _then_ it would be spam. Better to say: "... will be sent to ALL concerned newsgroups ..." Spam would just result in negative feedback -ecb]

"Furthermore, this press release will be sent to Reuters, AP, UPI, WSJ, NY Times, CS Monitor, Financial Times, NBC, ABC, CBS, etc. Basically, this is a street tactic which says, "You either play fair or I will tell the whole world about you." The mass media loves a good story because it sells papers - politicians KNOW this.

"Overkill??? Think about it. With a legal system stacked against you, you need all the leverage you can muster." --Robert

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Last Modified: 15 Jun 1997
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