"The History of Pog Usage in Middle Eastern Dance Costumes" was the title of a presentation given by the Rising Phoenix Dancers at the Oasis Dance Camp South 1997 costume show. However, since pog usage hasn't been limited just to costumes, we really should expand the title to include other things as well.
Pogs are milk caps--cardboard circles about 2" in diameter. They were a fad around the early to mid-90s, with kids playing a "slammer" game with them and trading and collecting them like baseball cards. The word "Pog" might be a trademark, I'm not sure. What makes them interesting is that they come with all kinds of different designs on them.
In 1995, Joani and Sherezzah were preparing a skit for Oasis Dance Camp North, inspired by a magazine article and a bit of video they'd seen about the latest costumes from Egypt, which were held together with safety pins and worn with bike shorts underneath. As they were planning their own versions of the costumes, Joani's eye was attracted to a big bag of holographic pogs in a local craft store (they were shiny, so they must have appealed to her magpie sense). She bought them, figuring they were big and shiny and could be a nifty addition to the costumes for the skit.
The result is shown to the left. That was the beginning.
A year or so later, the troupe was thinking about doing a
Ghawazee style dance, and trying to decide what to do about costumes
for it. We liked the funky contemporary costume with the short
skirts with the beaded fringe,
but we really didn't want to do all the beading for them.
Then someone came up with the idea of using pogs instead of
pailettes in the beaded fringe. Since the pogs are larger,
we could get away with
using larger beads and spacing the strands futher apart.
This would reduce the amount of beading considerably, so that
was what we did.
The results (right)
look pretty authentic, and are great fun to
dance in--they swish and shake and make cool noises when we shimmy.
The same year, we also were making a banner for Camp South. Naturally, it seemed appropriate to put pogs on it too. They're at the bottom, with the tassles.