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10 Tips for Learning the Forbidden Art of Snake Dancing

Saturday, June 11, 2011

It seems like ever since Britney Spears danced with an albino python at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards, dancing with a snake has grown more popular than ever. Although snake dancing (no not the Axel Rose version) is not a new practice, it is unclear exactly where it is derived from. And even though it is most often done with belly dancing moves, most experts agree that snake dancing does not have Middle Eastern origins of any kind. There is evidence of snake charming dating back to Ancient Egypt, where charmers were traditionally viewed as magicians and healers. However this type of snake charming differs from modern-day charming in India, which is believed to have a more religious influence, seeing as Hinduism holds serpents to be sacred animals. Historically Indian snake charmers were believed to be holy men with godlike powers. From India snake handling spread throughout North Africa and Southeast Asia, but due to new legislation it has since dwindled in the latter part of the 20th century. Additionally, there is some belief that the practice extended from Native American traditions, specifically that of the Hopi tribe, whose snake dance involved performers dancing with snakes in their mouths and around their necks.

Regardless of how it came to being, modern snake dancing is often seen as sexy, sinful, and salacious. Throughout history snakes have been viewed as evil, powerful, and mystical creatures. Thus handling or dancing with one is often seen as a taboo. And that’s exactly why you wanna try it right? Below we explore the top tips you need to know before shakin it with that serpent.

1. Be in shape: A 12 foot python can weigh more than 50 lbs and smaller snakes can still pack a huge weight. Depending on the size of your snake, you must be sure you can lift heavy weights for a long period of time.

2. Don’t dance with a shedding/pre-shedding snake: When snakes enter a shedding stage they are blind and irritable, and anything you do with them could aggravate them even further and make them prone to biting.

3. Wear a simple costume: Wear a simple costume meaning minimal jewelry, which the snake can get entangled in, no sequins, which can catch on the snakes scales and rip off, no long strands, which can also be torn off, and no bright or contrasting colors, which can clash with the colors of the snake and make it harder to see.

4. Don’t feed your snake before performing: Feeding your snake before performing can lead to onstage vomiting and pooping. Plus a snake that is a little hungry is usually more active and interesting on stage.

5. Make sure the environment is warm enough: Snakes are cold-blooded, meaning their body temperature changes with the surround environment. They enjoy warmth so try to keep them warm before taking them onstage and make sure the surroundings are not too frigid.

6. Make sure your body/hands are clean: You must make sure any food residue or smells are washed off your hands and body because you don’t want your snake smelling you and thinking that you are its food.

7. Handle your snake frequently: Handling your snake frequently before performing with them makes them more used to you, and thus more comfortable and agreeable when you are dancing with them.

8. Be comfortable with the snake: You must like snakes and be comfortable with snakes in order to dance with them. Like many other animals, snakes feed off energy, and if you are nervous or scared the snake will be too and act accordingly.

9. The snake is the star of the show: Do not force your snake to do a certain routine or moves. Your snake will do what it wants and you as the dancer must coordinate your routine in reaction to its movements. In other words, the snake leads and you follow.

10. Keep your moves slow and smooth: Snakes do not like fast or sudden movements like dips or spins. Keep them around your upper body and dance with your lower body, keeping your movements as fluid and controlled as possible.