There's hardly a Mediterranean restaurant anywhere that you could enter and not hear the wafting sounds of Middle Eastern music. There's also a good chance that wherever that music is coming from there's a lady somewhere clad in veils and sequins bringing a well-toned tummy to bear on some lucky customer.
But whether you are intent on making belly dancing a professional choice, entertaining the one you love, or just as a means to get and stay in shape, it has something to benefit everyone, regardless of your age or physical condition.
Belly dancing began in the Middle East, although the specifics are hard to come by. It also takes many different forms, depending largely on where it is being performed. As a style of dance and costume it has become very popular in areas around the world, and even new styles have evolved as it has entered the west.
In its most common use, belly dancing is a torso driven dance with an emphasis on movement of the hips. Unlike many dance forms, the goal of the dancer is to appear relaxed while she continues to focus her torso muscles on the rhythm set by music. Unlike most dances that have their roots in folk arts, there is really no standard routines in belly dancing. Some dancers and schools of belly dancing have their own naming conventions for the moves, but the moves are usually as individual as the dancers who perform them.
Most of those who become involved in belly dancing do so after attending specialized schools, individualized instruction by friends or even from other dancers who teach their craft after their own retirement. Once their schooling in the art begins, dancers learn different elements of the dances, including intensity levels, steps, turns, and spins. A dancers arms are used primarily to frame and/or accentuate the movements by the torso. More westernized styles use occasional accents such as low kicks, backbends, and head tosses.
Most women, and yes, some men, learn belly dancing as both a form of exercise as well as to appreciate the cultural means of the art. The truth is that belly dancing can be very strenuous, not to mention very edifying for those who decide to learn more about the craft. Whatever your purpose is in learning to belly dance, it's fun to do and pays many rewards to those who decide to pursue it.