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Thread: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant




  1. #1
    Just Starting! bellydancechic's Avatar
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    Question How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    Ok - so I found this restaurant that has dancing. It is really close to my house and I know of the dancers (to chat - small talk) but do not know them on a personal level. I would like to be a part of this restaurant but am not sure how to approach them about it.

    I want to do this right. I want to talk to the dancers and not the owners.

    WWBD?

    Do I send an email? Do I show up?
    Last edited by bellydancechic; 06-08-2009 at 09:40 AM.


  2. #2
    Fotia
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    You want to dance there? Or just get more information on the dancers themselves?


  3. #3
    Master BHUZzer SamiraShuruk's Avatar
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    I would first ask your teacher. There are different protocols in different regions- and your teacher should know.


  4. #4
    Just Starting! bellydancechic's Avatar
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    well - this place just started hiring dancers and there seems to be a team working there but...I live so close that I can walk there. It would be the perfect gig but I am not sure how to "break through" the tight circle of dancers to be "one of them".


  5. #5
    Master BHUZzer kharis_UK's Avatar
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    Quote Originally Posted by bellydancechic View Post
    well - this place just started hiring dancers and there seems to be a team working there but...I live so close that I can walk there. It would be the perfect gig but I am not sure how to "break through" the tight circle of dancers to be "one of them".
    This is tricky. Work is no doubt not that abundant and just because this place is convenient for you doesn't mean you can just walk in and get work there. You may be lucky, but don't bank on it. And don't expect that, by logic of your proximity to the venue, that you have some divine right to a place of work there. The only way round this is to perhaps offer some form of 'cover' for when they are short but on the grounds that you don't want to push anyone out. The problem here is that, as most dancers suffer from being undercut and pushed out by ambitious rivals, you may get the short shrift and cold shoulder.

    Good luck with it.


  6. #6
    Mega BHUZzer Bellydancingcaroline's Avatar
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    How about you approach one of the dancers who works there, and offer her a job to cover for you in some place that you are already dancing. You could then ask her to return the favour sometime.


  7. #7
    Ultimate BHUZzer laura 2's Avatar
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    I also agree that a good way to get a foot in the door would be to offer your services as a sub in case a dancer cancels and the others are otherwise booked/unavailable. You could even bring up the fact that you'd probably be able to substitute on very short notice, since you're practically right around the corner.


  8. #8
    Just Starting! bellydancechic's Avatar
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    i lost my other gig so a "no go" on the switching

    thinking the "late notice" option may work

    Just so hard to penetrate a tight group of dancers - ugh!!


  9. #9
    Official BHUZzer Zobeida's Avatar
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    unfortunately, because of the limited market, it is very hard to get into a clique. your best bet is what was already said. come in on a night when the main dancer/booker is on and offer to sub. stress the fact that you live so close and stress the last minute thing. that is your best bet for ensuring a chance at a semi-regular gig without stepping on anyone's toes.


  10. #10
    Ultimate BHUZzer SatinWorship19's Avatar
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    I know how you feel. It can be tricky, if not impossible, to get an "in" when a restaurant is run by a tight group of BFF's. Depends on how nice they are to newcomers, I guess. I second the last-minute sub idea. It's non-invasive, helpful, and has potential to work out to your benefit as well as theirs. If that doesn't work and you don't feel like making enemies, you may be SOL.

    At large, I wish more local restaurant circuits were amenable to big, liberal rotations rather than the concept of one dancer being married to a venue and letting nobody else in. Just as customers don't want to eat the same thing every time they go to a restaurant, one would think they'd want a little variety in their entertainment, too!


  11. #11
    tamrahennatx
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    Okay, so I know I've argued this side before, and have recommended trying to go through the established dancers, but if you are afraid they won't let you in, what is to stop you from going in and giving your promo material to the manager of the restaurant? If you know what going rates are and won't undercut, I don't see any harm in approaching the manager directly. He may either refer you to the scheduling dancer to schedule an audition, or schedule an audition himself, depending on the setup.

    Seriously, although I've advocated going through the scheduling dancers before, I don't think it's right that dancers should act as gatekeepers to gigs, keeping other dancers out unless THEY say it's okay for another dancer to be hired. Ultimately, it's the manager who is the boss, isn't it?

    If you know the other dancers, you can opt to talk to them and let them know you're interested in being another dancer in the rotation, but there's no hard and fast rule saying you MUST.

    Now if you know that one of these dancers worked very hard to get the gig started, that changes the dynamics a bit, and as always depending on your particular local politics, there may be other issues for you to be aware of. But you don't OWE any dancer the power to yea or nay your dance opportunities in a free market.

    If you do decide to go the direct route, please find out what the other dancers are making and ask for the same, because if you get the gig by undercutting the dancers who are already there, you deserve to be visited by the 3am zill brigade.


  12. #12
    Ultimate BHUZzer SatinWorship19's Avatar
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    Quote Originally Posted by tamrahennatx View Post
    I don't think it's right that dancers should act as gatekeepers to gigs, keeping other dancers out unless THEY say it's okay for another dancer to be hired.
    That's exactly my gripe about restaurants that have "house dancers" instead of rotations. A dancer's eligibility for work should hinge upon her talent and her ability to entertain a crowd, not where she stands in the local pecking order or how much butt she's willing to kiss to get somebody's sloppy seconds. Unfortunately, it's the real fans of the art that miss out when politics get in the way of a fair audition/selection process. Diversity is beautiful. New talent rocks. And how can communities stay fresh and inspired when the saaaaaame 3-4 people attempt to control the scene?

    That being said, however, I've contemplated going direct to certain restaurant owners, but always decide against it. I know I'd get the 3 a.m. zill brigade if I disrupted any of the existing restaurant lineups. It's just not worth the possibility of drama. So I do almost strictly private gigs, instead.

    I really hope that this structure goes out of style soon. Rotations are really the enlightened thing to do, if you ask me...
    minervabellydancer likes this.


  13. #13
    tamrahennatx
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    Quote Originally Posted by SatinWorship19 View Post
    That's exactly my gripe about restaurants that have "house dancers" instead of rotations. A dancer's eligibility for work should hinge upon her talent and her ability to entertain a crowd, not where she stands in the local pecking order or how much butt she's willing to kiss to get somebody's sloppy seconds. Unfortunately, it's the real fans of the art that miss out when politics get in the way of a fair audition/selection process. Diversity is beautiful. New talent rocks. And how can communities stay fresh and inspired when the saaaaaame 3-4 people attempt to control the scene?

    That being said, however, I've contemplated going direct to certain restaurant owners, but always decide against it. I know I'd get the 3 a.m. zill brigade if I disrupted any of the existing restaurant lineups. It's just not worth the possibility of drama. So I do almost strictly private gigs, instead.

    I really hope that this structure goes out of style soon. Rotations are really the enlightened thing to do, if you ask me...
    I can understand both systems. Here in Dallas we have both, and Al Amir is a combination of the two - there are "house dancers" but we are all in rotation - just because they consider me a house dancer doesn't mean I'll be there every Friday and/or Saturday night. There are currently over a dozen dancers on the roster...however, there is a seniority system, based both on who has been there for a long time and who are the strongest performers (among other criteria, some of which are fair and some of which are not).

    I do see the value in a system where seniority and loyalty are valued, where the dancers who've been there the longest have achieved a higher level in the pecking order of that restaurant. To me, that's only just - you'd hate for the new hire at your job to have the same amount of vacation days that you've had to work at a place for several years to earn, for instance. I'd hate to have my Friday and Saturday shows cut down just because they hired a new girl and she thinks she's entitled. IMO, if you are new, you work your way up - prove you are reliable and can put on a good show, and you'll get your prime time spots.

    I just don't think that the bellydance mafia needs to be in control - the establishment, the "gig", belongs to the owner of the restaurant. Who dances there should be his or her decision, even when we don't like it. That's one of the perks of being the boss.
    minervabellydancer likes this.


  14. #14
    tamrahennatx
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    Ack, I strayed from my point. The house dancer system is usually set up so that the owner or manager does not have to deal with the hassle of scheduling a stable of dancers. However, just because he is not doing the scheduling doesn't mean he has abdicated his right to choose who works in his establishment.

    If I was a restaurant owner I'd be a bit peeved if I found out my dancers were keeping other dancers from approaching me about work, and I think that advising dancers to NOT talk to restaurant managers sends the wrong signal. Yes, we need to stick together as dancers, but we need to balance that with keeping our own best personal interests at heart, and with common sense.


  15. #15
    Advanced BHUZzer mehndidancer's Avatar
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    Quote Originally Posted by SatinWorship19 View Post
    That's exactly my gripe about restaurants that have "house dancers" instead of rotations. A dancer's eligibility for work should hinge upon her talent and her ability to entertain a crowd, not where she stands in the local pecking order or how much butt she's willing to kiss to get somebody's sloppy seconds. Unfortunately, it's the real fans of the art that miss out when politics get in the way of a fair audition/selection process. Diversity is beautiful. New talent rocks. And how can communities stay fresh and inspired when the saaaaaame 3-4 people attempt to control the scene?

    That being said, however, I've contemplated going direct to certain restaurant owners, but always decide against it. I know I'd get the 3 a.m. zill brigade if I disrupted any of the existing restaurant lineups. It's just not worth the possibility of drama. So I do almost strictly private gigs, instead.

    I really hope that this structure goes out of style soon. Rotations are really the enlightened thing to do, if you ask me...

    I know the dancers here would have to die before giving up their gig to dance.
    Also in my area some don't play well with others, and very clicky. With limited venues and opportunities it can be cut throat. I'm not interested in that drama. Somehow CT loves drama don't know why. I pretty much stay away from it.

    If I were a bollywood dancer in my area. I'd have lots opportunities. Which I'm not nor ever will be. Not my cup of tea.

    Alrana


  16. #16
    Ultimate BHUZzer SatinWorship19's Avatar
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    Quote Originally Posted by tamrahennatx View Post
    If I was a restaurant owner I'd be a bit peeved if I found out my dancers were keeping other dancers from approaching me about work, and I think that advising dancers to NOT talk to restaurant managers sends the wrong signal. Yes, we need to stick together as dancers, but we need to balance that with keeping our own best personal interests at heart, and with common sense.
    Yes. Amen! It's only to the restaurant owner's advantage that he can choose among a big pool of great talent.

    And, if anything, I think cliquey house dancers are the opposite of sticking together. I can't think of anything less progressive or art-positive than a small handful of It Girls determining everybody else's plight as performers. Even scarier when the said house dancers themselves don't charge the going rates or continue their own education, but shun dancers who do

    All in all, it's a difficult situation for communities to overcome. As MendhiDancer suggested, some dancers would rather die than lose bragging rights to "their" gigs. I think a lot of great dancers, sadly, are too non-invasive and laid-back to risk incurring the drama that comes with changing a set paradigm ,f:: .


  17. #17
    Ultimate BHUZzer SatinWorship19's Avatar
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    Quote Originally Posted by mehndidancer View Post
    Somehow CT loves drama don't know why.
    Because, in a sense, we're all big fish in a very small pond.

    What a shock it would be, if Suhaila or Jillina moved to town...
    Last edited by SatinWorship19; 06-08-2009 at 06:33 PM.


  18. #18
    Advanced BHUZzer mehndidancer's Avatar
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    I would love to have Jillina here, but we also have the problem bored Stepford wives who want some novelty in their lives until next fitness craze rolls into town.
    Then want you to dance at their event. After you make the rounds several events in 3 months. They want someone new. I charged the NYC going rate.(cash only I didn't trust these women with checks)
    (okay this happened to me 8 years ago) they wanted a cheap dancer that dances cheap.(AKA 6 week wonders and Suzie nippletassles)

    Okay back to topic sorry I digressed.

    Alrana


  19. #19
    Master BHUZzer casbahdance's Avatar
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    You know, I think it's perfectly okay for a random professional-quality dancer to talk to the manager of a restaurant/club to find out who does the hiring for the entertainment. If it's the manager, then it's the manager; if it's the lead dancer, then so be it.

    I've never wanted to work in a restaurant or club on a regular basis, but keeping a foot in the retail arena isn't all bad.

    Deborah


  20. #20
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    If it were me, I might consider doing both. Talk to the manager, and also ask him/her if there's a lead dancer I should discuss it with, and contact that dancer to let her know I've 'left my name with' the manager. (I don't know why, that just sounds non-threatening to me). I wouldn't play games, I'd just display my ignorance outright. "I didn't know whether I was supposed to talk to XX or to you, so I wanted to give you a call, too."

    I'd let them both know that of course I'd love a regular night, but I'd also be happy to make myself available as a sub. (gotta pay those dues and start at the beginning).

    There have been SO many situations where the manager pits one dancer against another and takes advantage of the new kid. Like... offers a new dancer half what he's been paying, then fires the existing dancer if she won't drop her rate -- and suddenly you're an undercutter who took someone's job away and you're working for peanuts, but only until someone even more naive comes along.

    I agree that your teacher should be able to be a great resource here. She may know the local politics, the dancers involved, the going rate, whether there's a history of harassment or other problems at that particular restaurant, etc. Just because they have dancers doesn't mean it's a good place to be. Not trying to be Debbie Downer, but there ARE places where dancers are working for tips only and fending off advances from the owner every night.
    minervabellydancer likes this.


  21. #21
    Official BHUZzer bellydancewear's Avatar
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    Quote Originally Posted by tamrahennatx View Post
    ... what is to stop you from going in and giving your promo material to the manager of the restaurant? If you know what going rates are and won't undercut, I don't see any harm in approaching the manager directly. He may either refer you to the scheduling dancer to schedule an audition, or schedule an audition himself, depending on the setup.

    Seriously, although I've advocated going through the scheduling dancers before, I don't think it's right that dancers should act as gatekeepers to gigs, keeping other dancers out unless THEY say it's okay for another dancer to be hired. Ultimately, it's the manager who is the boss, isn't it?
    Absolutely!! Dancers are just employees they DO NOT OWN the restaurants and clubs!! I don't like the attitude from some that they do. Although this is often the owner or manager's fault for giving them too much power. When you apply for any job you are not sending your resume to the other employees, you send it to the hiring manager, or the employer. So if in the case of entertainment jobs if the owner or manager tells you to talk to the scheduler then so be it, but let them tell you, not anybody else. Here we just go straight to the owner/manager and follow what they tell us.


  22. #22
    Advanced BHUZzer Ahmber's Avatar
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    You need to find out what the other dancers are being paid so you don't undercut! Talk to them about your intentions. Then approach the management/owner with your portfolio. It is her/his place, it is her call.


  23. #23
    Ultimate BHUZzer artemisia_danst's Avatar
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    euh, i think it's normal that if a restaurant has only one or two dancers, and it's part of those peoples income, than that's what they want to keep doing, and not change it for a "large rotation" (with the housedancer obviously dancing less)... so i think the offering to be a substitute is nice, but as far as one can expect, for starters.

    in some posts i read some kind of entitlement in the sense that it seems to be socalled almost unfair that someone keeps a gig to themselves. well, if it's your income, of course they are!!!
    *Shira* likes this.


  24. #24
    Kimahri
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    Quote Originally Posted by artemisia_danst View Post
    euh, i think it's normal that if a restaurant has only one or two dancers, and it's part of those peoples income, than that's what they want to keep doing, and not change it for a "large rotation" (with the housedancer obviously dancing less)... so i think the offering to be a substitute is nice, but as far as one can expect, for starters.

    in some posts i read some kind of entitlement in the sense that it seems to be socalled almost unfair that someone keeps a gig to themselves. well, if it's your income, of course they are!!!
    I agree...I worked for years teaching group fitness classes at health clubs with hugs rosters of instructors in the "big pool". Most of us had to work at multiple clubs to have a prayer of getting enough classes to survive (at one point I was on staff at 5 places!) The coordinators that made the schedules still cherry-picked their favorites and were notorious for using the roster against you making it clear that if you didn't take whatever crumbs were offered there were a dozen others that would.

    You need adequate coverage and depth from the bench but the tipping point comes fast where too many people just means less for everyone. I can't fault anyone for not wanting to hand over a big chunk of their job!

    ~~Kimahri


  25. #25
    Advanced BHUZzer phillyraqs's Avatar
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    My 2 cents - from the OP's words, it doesn't sound like this is a case of villianous, sabotaging dancers who can't shimmy out of a paper bag are closely hoarding a gig. We also don't know much about the OP and how much she has danced in restaurants, though she mentioned another gig. I feel like I'm reading some crazy assumptions here.

    Not every dancer who works for a restaurant is jealously guarding her gig for dear life and wants to shut everyone else out. Maybe I am just lucky to work with really nice dancers, but half the time we are dying to recruit more skilled dancers to help fill up the schedule.

    Bellydancechic, like others mentioned, I suggest you offer to be a sub for them, especially since you live so close and wouldn't mind last minute subbing. Ask them if it's possible to get in the rotation, and feel free to drop by the restaurant and meet the owner and leave your card. Even though these dancers seem tight, you never know their situation until you inquire in a nice and professional way.


  26. #26
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    I've never seen a situation where dancers were employees. They are generally independent contractors, running their own business supplying entertainment, and each restaurant or club is their client.

    Agreements vary. In some cases, the restaurant owner has contracted (usually verbally) with a particular troupe director for her to provide dancers. In those cases -- just like if I contracted with Merry Maids to clean my studio -- you have to go through the contractor to get the work. But if you approach me about cleaning my studio, I'm going to tell you 'You'll have to talk to Merry Maids, they handle that.' Of course, the only way to get the work is to become part of Merry Maids (or the troupe that provides the dancers). If you talk to the owner much in this case, you'll be seen as trying to take the gig away from the troupe.

    (in the above cases, the manager should refer you to the lead dancer or troupe director. Trouble is they often don't and wind up pitting dancers against each other to get themselves the best possible deal. Hence the caution if you talk directly to the manager.)

    Other situations are much looser. The restaurant where I dance, all scheduling is handled by the restaurant manager, there is no lead dancer and the dancers have no real influence over the roster. If you asked me about dancing there, I'd refer you to the manager.

    I'd come to the dancer's show, clap, tip, be pleasant and charming, and tell her afterward that I'd love to sub or dance, and ask her who I should be speaking with. If I felt like the dancers weren't being open or treating me professionally, then I'd probably speak directly with the manager as well.


  27. #27
    Advanced BHUZzer _Tanya_'s Avatar
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    Some times when a small group of dancers is working at an establishment without outside rotation it's simply because the owner/manager/booker likes the dancers and likes to keep the drama to a minimum. Or perhaps it's because the dancers are doing a good job and the patronage likes them. I'm not sure how this thread became a dumping ground for dancers who work well together and keep their business practices tight.

    To the OP, I would suggest offering yourself up as a sub, not just for this job but for any jobs that the dancers at the establishement may have. If they have a good working situation they may hesitate to allow others into their circle for fear of drama and other problems. Show them that you are easy to work with and that you are not looking to steal gigs. By approaching them directly you will cut out any possibility of gossip getting back to them.


  28. #28
    tamrahennatx
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    Quote Originally Posted by phillyraqs View Post
    My 2 cents - from the OP's words, it doesn't sound like this is a case of villianous, sabotaging dancers who can't shimmy out of a paper bag are closely hoarding a gig. We also don't know much about the OP and how much she has danced in restaurants, though she mentioned another gig. I feel like I'm reading some crazy assumptions here.

    Not every dancer who works for a restaurant is jealously guarding her gig for dear life and wants to shut everyone else out. Maybe I am just lucky to work with really nice dancers, but half the time we are dying to recruit more skilled dancers to help fill up the schedule.

    Bellydancechic, like others mentioned, I suggest you offer to be a sub for them, especially since you live so close and wouldn't mind last minute subbing. Ask them if it's possible to get in the rotation, and feel free to drop by the restaurant and meet the owner and leave your card. Even though these dancers seem tight, you never know their situation until you inquire in a nice and professional way.
    Oh, I totally agree. I see both sides of the argument. I've never tried to keep dancers out of a gig, and I've actually been peeved when dancers have gone to management instead of asking one of the house dancers, but I can also see the other side of the coin.

    And yes, I am assuming the the dancer in question is a seasoned professional, not a student just venturing into the pro arena. Two separate things altogether.


  29. #29
    Master BHUZzer Sonja2's Avatar
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    Well, my initial response to the title of your post is "Very Carefully" ;-)

    But, seriously, how about approaching it exactly like you would if you were inquiring about a position as, say, a bartender. In other words, contact either the manager or the head dancer/scheduler and say "Hi, I'm new to the area (or, I've recently moved into this neighborhood) and I was curious if you are currently auditioning new dancers for your venue? I'd be happy to send you and/or the scheduling dancer a resume', business card, and video of my recent performances (or) contacts for previous restaurant locations where I've performed."

    That way you've made it known in a polite and professional way that you are looking, and you've actually asked if THEY are looking.

    As a scheduler, I love to have enough good dancers to pull from for the schedule to not have to go begging (or give up my own plans) when someone calls in sick, etc... We're unusual at my rest. in that most of us are content to dance once or twice a month at the rest. and perform on stage or private gigs for our other performance "needs". So, I am happy when someone approaches me or management and ASKS if we are looking for new performers, because I can either say, "yes, how bout you come on Friday xxx and perform and we'll see whether we can put you on the schedule" or I can say "not right now, but I am happy to put you down as a dancer "on call" However, I get thoroughly annoyed if someone comes in "assuming" the restaurant is actually in NEED of a new dancer and simply says "hi mr. xyz I am great (or cute, or yada yada yada) and you should hire me." That's just rude.


  30. #30
    Advanced BHUZzer mariyah13's Avatar
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    Re: How to approach dancers about working in an established resturant

    Quote Originally Posted by artemisia_danst View Post
    euh, i think it's normal that if a restaurant has only one or two dancers, and it's part of those peoples income, than that's what they want to keep doing, and not change it for a "large rotation" (with the housedancer obviously dancing less)... so i think the offering to be a substitute is nice, but as far as one can expect, for starters.

    in some posts i read some kind of entitlement in the sense that it seems to be socalled almost unfair that someone keeps a gig to themselves. well, if it's your income, of course they are!!!
    Agreed, and what Tanya said as well. For many dancers this is our job and steady weekly gigs are our regular income.
    I actually do not know of any house dancer/ scheduler situations in my area but plenty of places where a dancer has her set regular nights and is responsible for either being there or scheduling subs. First pick of subs usually goes to dancers who work at that same venue on other nights or a selected group because those dancers are already approved and preferred by the management.
    Also, customers actually do go to to some places expecting to see particular dancers.


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