OSHA Requirements for Belly Dancers

Belly dancing can be a hazardous profession. What if the US Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration developed rules for bellydancers?

That was the premise of a presentation done by the Rising Phoenix Dancers for the opening ceremonies of Oasis Dance Camp-South 1996. The following is a draft of the text of the presentation, which was developed by the entire group.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration Requirements for Belly Dancers

  • Dancers are not allowed to perform in bare feet, because of the danger from glass beads and other debris on floors. Sturdy footwear is required. Heavy-duty footwear such as army boots is also useful in Florida for stomping on cockroaches.

  • Knee pads are required for all dancers engaging in floor work. Wrist pads are suggested to protect against carpal tunnel when playing zills. Elbow pads are advised for protection against run-ins with scimitars.

  • A back brace should be worn to prevent hyperextension.

  • Surgical collars should be worn for apres-zar wear.
  • Sunglasses are required for outdoor daytime events, especially in Florida. They are also recommended to guard against spotlight blindness when on indoor stages.

  • Florida outdoor requirements:
    • Lightweight clothing is required to avoid overheating.
    • Mosquito netting is required.
    • Zinc oxide must be worn for sun protection.
  • Rusty dancers should use Naval Jelly.

  • For dancers working in restaurants:
    • Loose hair must be worn in a fishnet.
    • To combat the danger from secondary smoke, dancers are advised to wear gas masks, goggles, and carry a scuba tank for oxygen.
    • The dancer should carry a flyswatter, stun gun, or mace spray to deal with annoying patrons.
    • All dancers dancing in sleazy joints must take tap dancing or clogging classes, so they can learn how to stamp on cockroaches while still dancing.

  • Dancers should take anti-vertigo pills if they will be dancing under a spinning disco ball.
  • When working wih live music, it is recommended that the dancer have cue cards available to communicate with the musicians.

  • Turkish drops are considered too dangerous to be done without some type of safety net. Air mattresses are acceptable safety devices.

  • Canes and swords are considered dangerous. Nerf versions are recommended. Otherwise, canes can be no more than 12" in length.

  • Candles, candlabras, and pots of fire are unsafe. All forms of lights are outlawed including electric battery-operated lights, which can cause electric shock when sweat drips on the contacts. Dancers are only allowed to wear lampshades to simulate the idea of lighted sources.

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