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Ebay’s Guide to Tribal

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In composing this blog entry, a single search for “tribal bellydance” on Ebay returned some very interesting results. Less and less dancers are shopping there, because the term has been confused and misused.
I think we should start with a reminder of what were some of the costuming influences and inspirations for tribal in the first place. So let’s walk down memory lane a bit:

  Orientalist painting of a Turkish woman left, Banjara Dancer, Right
 Banjara woman, left.  Turkomen women, right.
The Ouled Nail

So when we went shopping for tribal bellydance costumes on Ebay, these were examples of what we were looking for in the late 90’s and early ’00’s:

Bal Anat
 Awalim
And of course, Fat Chance Bellydance.

Sometime in 2005/2006, Ebay sellers began to clue into the power of the word “tribal” to describe their bellydance wares in order to get more hits from visitors.  It used to a be a term you could plug in and get 10-yard skirts (de riguer for tribal at the time), beautiful imported cholis, and kuchi jewelry. Now…well, see for yourself in this little shopping guide, courtesy of Ebay!
(Any manufacturer names have been blurred from the photos, as it is not my intention to either advertise for nor warn against the businesses themselves.)

Tribal bellydancers like fringe, right? Therefore, this belt=tribal!

Lots of leg showing? Check! Undies showing through sheer fabric? Check. Costume the color of a tasty summer treat? Check. Tribal success!!

Little known fact: the larger the sleeve, the more tribal you are.

I got nothing.

 Now to be fair, I imagine someone could probably manage to pull this off in some tribal fusion-y kind of way. But to also be fair, this not only says tribal…it says TASSEL!?

Tribal Gold AND Silver Sequin…and WAVY? Buy now for your tribal ensemble!

Just look at all the lush tribal style detailing…

 I can’t tell if a butterfly died on this, or threw up on it. Excuse me, “Tribal Buttefly”.
 A trio of tribal bras. Velvet, rhinestones, sequins. I need the pink one. NEED.  It will go with my sequin encrusted tribal beledi cane.
 The butterfly family flitted over onto this tribal hip scarf. And got caught in a string of yellow crochet coin fringe and upholstery tassels.
 This seller really covered all their bases. Check out that fantastic SEO title–this outfit is for EVERYONE!
I not-so-secretly hope that everything was just glued onto this bra with Elmer’s. That would really be the finishing touch for me on this tribal masterpiece.
Hopefully you’re now duly inspired and ready to assemble your next tribal costume!
Shay
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Shay Moore is the director and primary instructor at Deep Roots Dance in Seattle, WA. She loves writing, movies, costuming, knitting, cooking, and bellydance to the moon and back again; and loves her amazing husband and doggies even more than that.

Shay
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