It is believed that belly dancing was first devised in the 16th century, and has evolved further through a number of variations which are now common in the entertainment industry.
The tradition is a popular choice amongst women at the ball, it can be done with or without clothes, and takes place in a number of different styles – such as: a tight-fit top and tight dresses, or a top with no bottom and a pair of shorts.
There was little in the way of legislation at the time, but there were laws to protect women who performed the act.
The tradition itself, although it began more recently, was originally a way to enhance a woman’s figure.
There are several theories as to why belly dancing originated, however most assume it started when the women moved to town to make money – as many of the men working as slaves were in fact, women. But as time passed, they started to feel threatened by the women taking over their men’s roles and so went on to adopt their own style of dancing, which in turn spread through the country.
Tiny steps and an odd looking top: The tradition has evolved considerably since its initial conception in the 16th century
The first ball to have the tradition in Britain was the Royal Ball of 1637 at Westminster, London.
A total of five balls have had their own traditions, all of which have developed into quite distinct variations.
These have been: the Royal Ball Of 1641, London; the Lady-Belly Dance Ball At St Paul’s And Westminster in May 1649; The Royal Ball Of St Paul’s In 1659; The Lady-Belly Dance Ball Of St Paul’s And Westminster in 1675; The Queen Els The Queen Els Ball, London; And The Queen And The Belly Dance, Buckingham Palace.
The Queen Els Ball, Buckingham Palace, is traditionally the first to have its own version of the belly dance, and is held on the second Saturday of every year to commemorate the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s accession to the throne. The day of the event can be marked both as a formal ‘proud day’ and one for the whole family to celebrate and honour Queen Elizabeth’s accession to the throne in 1953 at 5:29pm, just minutes before she performed the ball.
In July 1673 – one year after the Queen’s accession – a dance took place in St Paul’s At the same time as the Queen and her lady
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