I suppose that Raqs Sharqi is the type of belly dancing with which people are most familiar. The dancer generally wears a 'bedlah' (bra and belt set) decorated with anything from sequins to gemstones and more 'exaggerated' make-up and jewellery than a 'folk' style dancer. Chiffon skirts or 'harem' pants and a veil complete what is, undoubtably, the most glamourous of the belly dancing ensembles In the Middle East and Turkey, the dance is most commonly performed for an all-male or (more recently) a mixed, paying audience.
Yes, that's basically it. I would like to add some points:
- exaggerated make-up: Well, that's not special for dancers, it's a simple necessity for every performing artist. You need to put on stage make-up so that everybody can see your face from a distance.
- "harem" pants: mostly worn in the West for dancing. Middle Eastern dancers seldom wear them. I would also suggest to call them pantaloons instead. As this garment is not exclusive to the women's quarters (harem) - and many people associate wrong ideas with the word harem (place of sexual pleasure for a sultan...)
In its non-performance environment, Raqs Sharqi is danced by everybody - men, women, children. It is simply what everybody does when there is music at a party.
An artist is not someone who is inspired but someone who inspires others - Salvador Dali
I agree that 'pantaloons' would be a better term - I know what you mean about the association with 'Harems'. It's a shame that so many people have the idea that this sort of dancing is 'sleazy'. In the short time I've been doing this, I've been amazed by, not only the 'athletic' ability of the dancers I've seen (mainly only on video ) but also the sheer glamour and elegance of them. I haven't seen anything 'sleazy' so far.