For this week’s Deep Dive Series, we are interviewing @ShazTheSwordQueen, a belly dancer and belly dancing teacher on Clapper.
Shaz brought her expertise to Clapper a few years ago after a few (very drastic) career changes! She has a truly impressive array of costumes and props to use in each of her performances, but she’s best known for her sword work. (Yes, you read that right…swords!) For this interview, we sat down with Shaz to discuss her belly dancing journey, her tips for new creators, and the incredible variety show she hosts each week on Clapper.
Keep reading this Deep Dive Series to find out more about this creator’s fantastic story. Make sure to tune in every Thursday at 5pm CT on our @ClapperTalks account to listen to the bonus questions that will only be available on our live radio show: Clapper Talks.
Deep Dive into this amazing creator’s story!
What does a day in your life look like?
I work part-time at David’s Bridal; I help women find the wedding dress of their dreams and it’s very rewarding. And I go bike riding a lot, I take hot yoga, I go swimming – I have a really relaxed life. I worked so many years in an office in New York that I don’t want to do that anymore. I just want to enjoy my life. Now I just work 3 days a week and do whatever the hell I want the other days. I’m also traveling to Portugal in December with my best friend! She’s also a belly dancer and we will be going live from Portugal to belly dance.
I used to work for Nasdaq (the stock market) and I was making pretty good money and doing very well financially, but I decided to quit my job to become a full-time belly dancer. Everyone told me that I couldn’t do it. Which, mind you, I was a kindergarten teacher before and I changed careers. Because everyone said that I couldn’t do it, it actually pushed me to do it more. So, I quit my job and became a full-time belly dancer for 6 years, then I started my own entertainment agency just for belly dancers. I did struggle with the rent each month, I didn’t have as much money, and sometimes I had very little food. But I was so extremely happy, I didn’t care. I just did whatever I had to do.
How old were you when you started belly dancing and what made you want to get into it?
Believe it or not, I took my first belly dance lesson when I was 31 years old! It always fascinated me, and my dad told me a story rather recently that I didn’t know about. He said when I was little, we were in the mall with my grandparents, and there was a belly dancer there and there was a show. And I would not move. They kept pulling me, and they said I was completely mesmerized. I don’t remember this but I think maybe that day it just burned in my brain. They said they had to stand there and wait for the entire show to be over in order to leave. Maybe that was imprinted in my brain or something.
I did karate since I was 11 years old and I actually had to quit taking karate because I couldn’t do both. I already had my black belt and then I found out that there were swords in belly dancing. I’m obsessed with weapons, and after I found out that belly dancers dance with swords I was like “hell yeah!” There are things I do with my swords that no other belly dancer probably worldwide does. It’s because of my karate background! When I was working in New York as a professional belly dancer, I was actually pretty famous for my double sword because I add fighting stances and swinging the swords. I kind of mixed my sword dancing with karate and that’s what makes me very unique when it comes to belly dancing. I incorporate the weapons as a weapon as well as a dancing prop.
We saw you showcasing your outfits in one of your videos. They’re so vibrant and colorful. Tell us about the process of choosing your outfits.
I’m obsessed with costumes! People don’t realize how expensive they are, so when I first started my mom helped me purchase a bunch. They were $700 each, and my cheapest costume is $300 dollars. Now I’m buying used costumes, which they’re still very expensive. When I go, I have to try them on because it’s about the feeling. There’s a green and yellow costume I just got that I wouldn’t normally buy that color, but I tried it on and I was like “oh my gosh, this is beautiful”. Then I go into “okay this costume will look good with my butterfly wings”. That’s why I have so many different wings; I can wear most of them with costumes. Next, I’m getting those big feather fans the burlesque girls have. I’m so excited, they’re so cool!
We saw you were also a teacher online and in real life. What made you want to go into teaching?
I just want to share my passion with other people. It makes me happy, especially when someone is excited to learn. That just brings me such joy. I get to share the one thing I’m obsessed with. I’m obsessed with belly dancing, can you tell? And I like teaching, I like people, I’m a people person. I teach for free on Clapper every Saturday for whoever wants to learn, and I love giving back to my community.
What are the hardest things to learn about belly dancing when you are a beginner?
I think that certain hip movements – they’re called eights – are the hardest things to teach. There are just certain moves that are difficult, and then chest circles and pops and stuff like that. But there’s always going to be a student that can do the circles but can’t do the eights with their hips, and then students that can do the opposite. We’re not used to moving our bodies in that way and that’s what makes it so difficult. You know, undulations are also very hard, reverse undulations are hard, and any kind of chest work is not always easy. And then we get into the intricate stuff that I can do.
On your group chat on Clapper, you say you host a belly dancing performance, you do a class, and also do makeup tutorials. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
I’ve always been obsessed with make-up and I’ve always wanted to learn how to do make-up in a more professional way. And when I would go live belly dancing, people would always say “I wish you would do a makeup tutorial; your makeup looks so amazing and I would love to learn”. So when I started doing lives on Clapper, I had the vision. Then I found Kandace Taylor, and I said “hey I’m having a show on Saturdays and I would love to start with make-up”. And I love entertainment, so I wanted to have a special guest or a singer every week. And I decided it should be called a variety show.
I decided to have a show where I start with a makeup tutorial for an hour, then I teach a lesson and I perform, and then someone else performs for me. If someone wants to come up and chat or say hello, or meet me, I’ll bring them up. I’m also very spiritual. I read tarot cards forever for 30 years, I remember 3 of my past lives, and I met spirits and my spiritual guides. I’m really interested in those topics, so sometimes when my performance is over I’ll talk about that. It’s definitely a complete variety show. I took all of the things I love, I put them together, and that’s what I do. I love to share the passion that I have for all of these things.
When did you join Clapper? How did your journey as a creator begin?
My fiancé is a streamer on Twitch and when COVID happened, we got trapped at home and I had nothing to do. No job, no students, no nothing. I was just bored and my fiancé suggested I try streaming, so initially, it was all his idea! At first, I tried Twitch, but Twitch didn’t really work out for me because it’s more for gamers. Then I tried TikTok and I was more successful, but then I found out about Clapper. And as soon as I found out about Clapper, I was like “oh my gosh”. I love to share my passion with my people it means the world to me. And I can’t imagine what it would be like to not be a content creator. I feel like I’ve been doing it forever and it’s only been a few years.
What is your favorite feature of the app? What do you enjoy most about Clapper?
I love radios! I love that I was able to really connect with a lot of people and develop close relationships. That’s the one thing that’s absolutely amazing because if you go on the radio you get to meet people and you get to connect with other people. I love there are not so many trolls on here. Everyone is respectful for the most part. Of course, you get a troll here and there, but it’s not as bad. The people on Clapper are pretty freaking awesome! I won’t be going anywhere, I love it here. I feel so comfortable. Sometimes I’ll get bored and lonely over here and I just go live and say “hey I’m going to belly dance; hang out with me while I do my makeup.”
In what ways do you feel like Clapper needs improvement?
There’s one thing that drives me berserk and bonkers – and I’m sure you’ve probably heard this a lot – but I’m always missing my messages. They’re completely lumped in with the millions of groups that I’ve joined. I’m always getting in trouble for missing something and it’s so upsetting because it’ll be something like collaboration for a birthday wish for this person or that person. And I feel like if we had a separate message box so they’re not clumped with the groups they would be seen more easily. And that’s really the only thing.
What advice would you give new users that want to be successful on Clapper?
When I was first on Clapper I wasn’t really posting all the time. I thought that people would get tired of my dancing or I’d run out of stuff to do. I’d post one or two videos a week. My advice to anyone who wants to be a content creator is to post two videos daily – one in the morning, and one at night.
Once I started posting two videos a day, my number of followers shot up so fast. I could not believe I wasn’t doing that before. Because there are so many new people on Clapper every single day. If you think people are getting tired of your content, what about the people that have never seen your content? If you want to grow and get more followers, you have to do at least one or two videos a day. It’s a great lesson I learned on my own.
We hope you enjoyed getting to know @ShazTheSwordQueen. For our latest deep dive on The North Texas Food Bank read here.