A Dancers’ Guide to getting the most of the Ottawa Souk Part 1 – Make Your List
So you want to buy a costume, music, props, accessories and all things Belly dance or Bollywood?! That’s great! But where do you start to look for all these goodies and what should pay for each item? There are definitely bargains to be found online but without doing a bit of research for what you should be looking for, you can get lost in all of the shiny and end up purchasing things that either didn’t match the picture, or you may not really need/want.
Are there Local Stores in Ottawa to Shop?
Yes. In Ottawa, we don’t have a lot of local stores that sell belly dance gear. Inexpensive coin hips scarves and tiny tops and skirt combos can be found at some shops like Brass ‘n Crafts and Fantasie and are fine for beginners or those not looking to get fancy or perform a lot. Oasis Studios in Gatineau does have a nice collection of both hip scarves and costumes and will hold mini bazaars for the community, on occasion, and are happy to make an appointment with you so you can shop for belly dance gear that comes straight from Egypt. Bollywood clothes are often most abundant at the summer festivals of both the Festival of India and SouthAsiaFest but can be found at the odd Indian clothing store across Ottawa.
Are there ever any Special Shopping Events?
Yes. In fact there are a few shopping events happening this year. On April 22, 2018, the Ottawa Souk (formerly known to some as the Ottawa Dancers’ Bazaar) is happening from 12pm until 5pm at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 260 McArthur St., in Vanier (it’s jus up the street from the Vanier and McArthur intersection). On May 5, right after the Princess vs Village Workshop Day 1 with Nada el Masriya, is another opportunity to shop for dance stuff; this is located at McNabb Community Centre, 180 Percy St. Both locations have free parking and the both shopping events have no entry fee!
Make you list!
Shopping for shiny things is fun! I mean really fun! However, I definitely suggest making a list of the main items you are looking for, because you will most likely get distracted by all of the items laid out across the room.
A Belly Dancers’ List
Costume – two piece bedlah with skirt, folkloric costume (saidi, baladi, etc)., oriental dress
Props – Veil, Cane/Stick, Isis Wings, Weighted veils, fan veils, shamadan, zills/finger cymbals, tray, sword, melaya
Jewelry – Earrings, necklace, rings, foot gear (shoes, decorative beading, etc.), headband/coif
Music CDs – classical, drum, modern etc.
DVDs – Instructional and/or performances
Class wear – Hip scarves, stretch pants, skirts
A Bollywood Dancers’ List
Costume – Lengha (choli, skirt & dupatta), choli and pants, salwar kameez, sari etc.
Props – daniya sticks, hand scarves
Jewelry – Bangles, bindis, earrings, necklace, foot and ankle gear etc.
Music CDs – Bhangra, Bollywood, classical Indian
DVDs – Instructional and/or movies
Make your Budget!
It’s fun shopping for dance gear! Really fun!!! But it can get out of control if you don’t have a price in mind. Prices can vary depending if an item is used or new and from vendor to vendor. In the following blogletters I will go into a little more detail of what to expect for price on items such as costumes but for now I will provide a general price range to help you begin your shopping budget.
Costumes (used/new): $50 – $1000
Props: Veils ($20-$200), Canes/sticks ($5-$20), Isis Wings ($50-$150), Weighted Veils ($35-$85), Fan veils ($40-$80), Shamadan ($75-$200), Sword ($50-$100), Zills ($30-$100), Melaya ($65-$100)
Class wear: $10-$100
Methods of Payment
At local events, such as the Ottawa Souk and the mini bazaar after the Princess vs Village workshop, the vendors will not all have credit card taking capabilities. If WiFi is available at the locations, and the seller accepts this form of payment, you may be able to do an e-Transfer (electronic money transfer). Most often, it’s best to have cash at these types of events.
What about Refunds?
My personal rule is “Don’t buy it, if you think you’ll want to return it”. If you’re not sure about your purchase take a moment to think about it. It’s okay to ask the vendor to hold the item for 5 minutes to go and think about it; they are allowed to say no too. A vendor has a right to refuse to refund after money has exchanged hands, so ask them if there is a refund policy as this will say both you and the vendor headaches. Ask for a friend’s or a teacher’s opinion.
Shop with a Friend!
The cliche goes, “the more the merrier”! Well shopping with a friend can be great for many reasons. If they are a dancer like yourself, what a great way to hang out and help each other find the items on your list. Bounce opinions off each other. If you’re not sure about a potential purchase, ask your friend. If your friend is not physically available that day, see if they’re open to text message when you need their opinions. If your teacher happens to be shopping and/or selling stuff, ask their opinion too.
Keep it fun!
Shopping for dance gear can be inundating, especially when you’re just starting out or looking for something particular. If you feel uncomfortable and/or pressured by a seller, be polite, say no thank you or find a way to politely excuse yourself. It’s okay to browse and/or shop at all the tables and it’s okay to stick to your favourites. Just enjoy all of the shiny goodness and who knows what goodies will go home with you. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, did you ask a vendor if they maybe get it for you and/or suggest a place you could find it? If you still didn’t find anything, it’s ok; you still got a chance to check what’s out there, what you liked and disliked as well as got to socialize with the community.
Happy dance shopping!