In this post I am reading from Part One of my upcoming book Paid To Dance: Stripping Past & Present. Part One: An Exotic History explores the origins of exotic entertainment in cultures around the world. Paid To Dance: Stripping Past & Present is available now in paperback and Kindle ebook.
Part One: An Exotic History (Excerpt)
The earliest evidence of exotic dance can be traced back twenty thousand years to Palaeolithic cave paintings in the south of France, and proof has also been found by archaeologists near the Black Sea regions of Bulgaria and Romania.
It is thought to hold its origins in ancient rituals associated with fertility, not only for motherhood but also agriculture and farming. During the height of the Roman Empire and Ancient Greece, priestesses performed in sacred temples, and this practice was also commonplace in India. Exotic dance even makes an appearance in the Bible, where Salome seductively performs the Dance of the Seven Veils for the guests of Kind Herod’s birthday celebrations.
During the 12th Century, belly dancing captivated voyeurs throughout the Middle East. While the performers did not remove their garments, vigorous movements of the hips and pelvis entranced the audience, who in turn tossed coins to the dancers as a gesture of their admiration.
In the Victorian Age, although separated by wealth and privilege, both society’s elite and working class indulged in exotic entertainment. Women went to great lengths to hide their physical forms beneath bustles, hoops and frills, and so the idea of young ladies appearing on stage in their silk stockings and bustiers was a controversial temptation. 18th Century ladies of the court danced at banquets, using beautiful fans to accentuate their suggestive movements.
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