Packing for bellydance events – pack smarter, not harder

Have you ever been to a multiple day bellydance event? It is the perfect opportuniy to take workshops, watch performances, browse merchandise and talk with fellow dancers. Often these events are not in my area and I usually travel with public transportation. Packing enough clean clothes for a couple of days plus something nice to wear in the evening AND being able to lugg it with me from train station to train station is a bit of a challenge. Through the years I’ve learned to pack smarter, not harder. What it means is that I am not focussing on how I can find the biggest available suitcase and the maximum ammount of weight I can carry with me (pack harder). Instead I am going for packing as little and as light as possible whil still covering all situations and bringing enough clothes with me for the whole event. For example, a 3/4 legging is considerably light compared to Melodia pants. An accent skirt made of fabric is not as hefty as a Egyptian glass beaded hip scarf.

Without further ado, I these are my tips for packing smarter:

Practice wear

Let’s face it, I want to look good while working my ass off during a workshop. For convenience I wear leggings plus a top, and accent hipskirts made of left over fabric. These are easy to make, will only take you a couple of minutes and they really brighten up your outfit. There are several tutorials floating around the internet, like Andalee’s Bellydance overskirt and this tutorial by Sparkle Belly. For extra flair, I like to bring a couple of silk flowers that can be attached with a pin, hairclip and elastic. It looks really cut pinned to the hipskirt or in my hair, and it doubles as an accesoire for gala nights. Jewelry works great too, a couple of sparkly earrings will look great with lots of outfits. Since  sweat a lot, I bring a shirt and a legging for every day of workshops.

Example of practice wear: 3/4 legging, black t-shirt and fabric scarf tied around the hips. The theme of Dream Bootcamp Aalst 2013 was 'The 80ies' hence the neon colors.
Example of practice wear: 3/4 legging, black t-shirt and fabric scarf tied around the hips. The theme of Dream Bootcamp Aalst 2013 was ‘The 80ies’ hence the neon colors.

Performance costume

I like the opportunity to perform on the open stage or I am invited to perform in the show. Sometimes bringing a 25 yard skirt with me is inevitable, but given a choice I’ll bring lightweight costumes with me. Eman Zaki and Sahar Okasha makes beautiful lightweight costumes that really pop on stage, and I made a couple myself that also work really wear. More fringe equals more weight! I love my vintage and fringy costumes but for events, I rather leave them at home.

Razia and Kyria freestyling during RAKS Leuven 2010
I try to avoid bringing heavy costumes but this time I was not the only one: Razia brought her metal CostLess costume. This is some freestyling at the end of Razia’s performance


When performing, I need the whole shebang in the original package. But for everyday use I have a minimal make-up kit: eyebrow powder (I like the Bodyshop brow and liner kit), a simple gold tone eye tint base that doesn’t run and looks good all day (I prefer MAC pro longwear paint pot Rubenesque) a black eye pencil for creating a slightly smokey eye (Rimmel London soft khole eye liner) and a black mascara (I get a cheap one from a local drug store). Five products that can be used to create a day look and an evening look. If you have a gala or something, add fake lashes and a lipstick to your kit.

Shower products

Go small. I have couple of small plastic containers that will hold  enough cream, lotion or other product to last a couple of days. I rarely bring shower gel as most hotels provide soap or shower gel. This can easily bring the weight of my suitcase back a couple of pounds. I bring almost every product back in size, including toothpaste and cotton pads. Cut the pads in two and you get two uses out of one pad.

Day wear

Walking around inbetween workshops, going outside to get something to eat and travel to and from the event, I am in need of day wear. Though I like wearing my bellydance costumes, 24/7 is a bit too hardcore for me! I like to bring items that can be worn on top of a practice outfit and can be worn several ways. Like the thousandways dress from Supertrash, or the infinity dress that you can makeyourself. Important reminder: knit fabric has a tendency to show panty lines and white knit fabric is slightly see through. Avoid at all costs. Second important reminder: just because a dress can be worn a thousand ways, doesn’t mean it will stay clean all week. They are easy to wash and dry in a hotel room though.

Evening wear

Yes, the gala!  I have been caught unaware before because in my culture, people dress for practicality, not for fashion sense. Some say the Dutch don’t have a fashion sense, which might very well be true. After my fair share of festivals where I turned out to be a bit underdresses, I am now prepared for every occassion. A little black dress works wonders paired with simple black heels, or sandals with rhinestones. Layers are my friend, when travelling I wear a scarf around my neck that can double as an evening wrap. With the silk flower in my hair and fake lashes on, I am ready to party in no time!

Lovely example of not wearing evening wear during the Orientalicious gala in Amsterdam, 2010. The lovely Khalida has obviously mastered the skills of looking great all the time. The eye shadow is a remnant of my performance earlier that night.
Lovely example of not wearing evening wear during the Orientalicious gala in Amsterdam, 2010. The lovely Khalida has obviously mastered the skills of looking great all the time. The eye shadow is a remnant of my performance earlier that night.


Yes, dancers need food to keep on dancing! During my first workshops I bought food at home an took it with me to the event, but nowadays I arrive early and buy water, fruit and snacks close to the venue. Check in advance if bringing your own food is allowed and if it is not allowed, bring enough cash to pay for food. Which brings me to…


Bringing a bit of cash comes in handy. If you are sure that you can withdraw money at the place of the venue (in some countries your card might not work, or you need to inform your bank that you are taking a holiday so they enable your card) only take enough money with you for calculated expenses like food and a bit of merchandise. If I see a costume that I like, I can always come back later with the full payment. Form a safety point of view, I never keep all my money in the same place: I carry part of it with me, and a smaller part is in the safety deposit box in my hotel room. If I get robbed, at least I can still get some food and get home.

There you go, I am ready for the next festival! I’ll be in Bruxelles in July for Suhaila’s level 1 certification and in Leuven in August for workshops with Ava Fleming. If you are interested in going to these events, contact the organiser. I’d love to meet you there and talk bellydance 🙂 Do you have more tips on packing light for dance festivals? Let me know in the comments below or on facebook.


If you want to know more about the dancers and events mentioned and pictured in this post:

Dream Bootcamp with Aziza

RAKS events, organized by Artemisia Danst


Orientalicious, a festival in Amsterdam organized by Aisa Lafour






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