Costuming the French Quarter

Bellydance from New Orleans
My great costume finds from New Orleans.

On a recent trip to New Orleans I was left to entertain myself while my husband spent the day at the clinic (as a Doctor in Training, i.e. Med Student), I set off to the French Quarter in search of something uniquely New Orleans, and hopefully Bellydance inspired.

My first stop was Kruz. I’d heard of his shop through other friends in dance. The store was mainly full of Indian wear; linen pants and beautiful Saris. Over in one corner there were hip scarves and coin bras. Coin belts were hung around the store, almost as decoration in the windows. There was jewelry in a case that could go for either Indian or Arabic culture. It was the only shop I found that day with authentic Bellydance costuming.

As I continued through the French Quarter and drew closer to Bourbon St the stores changed from unique ethnic boutiques to tourist souvenir shops. Because I was staring every hole in the wall down in my quest for belly dance related items, I noticed an astounding fact: belly dance is all over the French Quarter. Almost every store had cheap belly dance hip scarves, bras, and some even had Isis wings! It makes sense that that the spirit of carnival would love the flashy bits of Middle Eastern dance, but a word of warning: that doesn’t mean professional cabaret belly dancers can get attired in the French Quarter. The ‘costumes’ you see peddled on the streets of NOLA are not stage quality. They are not traditional, often times too small, and of an improper fabric to properly dance with. True belly dance costumes are heavy: they use glass beads, and are built on a thick sturdy foundation. They are expensive, yes, but well worth the price. A Bedlah should not be mistaken for a piece of lingerie, it should look like a well fitted piece of clothing.

Once place I do reccomend is the French Market. Not to be confused with the Quarter, the Market is an open air vending area where all sorts of people come to sell their wares. I walked by knock-off purses, watches and sunglasses in dozens of stalls, in addition to the clothing and jewelry vendors.

Stick to the outside periphery of the Quarter, because just like a grocery store, the center is filled with overly processed junk that isn’t fit for your body!



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