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Pantaloons or harem pants are worn underneath the skirts. Pantaloons or harem pants are usually 4 meters of taffeta or other fancy, shiny material and tapered at the ankles. Sometimes a panel skirt (two square panels of material, one at front and one at back) is worn over the pantaloons, so the pantaloons are the main focus when the panels fly up.
Indian Choli tops or any mid-riff top is worn. These tops have tight sleeves that vary in length from short-sleeved to full length and include an underarm gusset for extra room and ease of movement. They come in a variety of styles from open back with ties at the neck and back, to full coverage at back and hook closures or lace tie-ups at the front. Cholis can be plain or embroidered with trim, shisha mirrors, etc. Some dance outlets have mid-riff tops in this style made of lycra/cotton, which can be used once adorned.
While beaded/sequined bras and belts are not worn, coin bras/drapes are used quite often. They are usually worn under embroidered or jeweled vests, like a Macedonian vest, with a lower bodice in front that cups underneath the bra.
Tassel Belts are worn over the skirts/pantaloons. These belts are made from sturdy cotton and are decorated with mirrors and embroidery in the style of the nomadic tribes of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Large, colourful wool tassels are attached at the bottom of the belt and smaller tassels can be worn at the top. The back can be v-shaped, straight cut or curved. The belt has long ties with more tassels at the end that tie in the front. Short or long fringe belts can also be worn over the skirts. These belts are similar to the tassel belt, but use 6" or 30" cloth/rayon fringe instead of tassels.
Turbans, scarves or sashes always cover the head. Jewelry is adorned to the head coverings, especially at the temples, draping down the side of the face. It is not often that a dancer will not wear some sort of head covering. You will not see beaded head drapes.
Jewelry with coins, Indian bells and chunky metal pieces are layered everywhere. You can never have too much jewelry: necklaces, earrings, pins, rings, bangles, chain belts, etc. Jewelry can be Afghani, India, Turkish, Egyptian, Palestinian, even North American in origin … as long as it looks ethnic or tribal.
Makeup consists of eyeliner used to draw facial tattoos in the style of North Africa nomad tribes on the face. Henna, especially on the hands and soles of the feet is used often.
To complete the tribal look, feet are either bare or adorned with tan-coloured Hermes sandals.
If you are interested in finding out more about this costume style or dance, please check out the FCBD web site at www.fcbd.com or contact them at FatChanceBellyDance P.O. Box 460594, San Francisco, CA 94146. You can find everything from patterns for costumes, instructions on how to wrap a turban, make-up instructions and of course costumes!