By Chantel Elder
- Name: Julia Baum
- Occupation: Belly Dance Performer & Instructor
- Website: www.bellydancerjulia.com Phone: 916-572-HIPS
- Zodiac Sign: Virgo
I first became interested in belly dancing probably around 2003-2004. I was aware of it earlier though because of Shakira and some media exposure to it here and there, but my passion all began when I saw a belly dancer doing a sword dance up at a music festival. I thought it was so sensual and exotic, and wanted to be that talented. I bought an instructional DVD by Jillina, the main dancer from a really popular troupe called Bellydance Superstars, found a studio in Davis that had some lessons and took some classes. I began taking it seriously in 2006 though, when I moved to Sacramento. I began dancing at various local restaurants, nightclubs and other venues, and found my dance mentor who helped me develop my own artistic voice and style.
Where/How did you learn?
Mychelle Crown has been my main instructor and consultant for several years. Her style and technique have been hugely influential. However, she had a baby six months ago and lives in Chico now, so lately I’ve been doing mostly private lessons and workshops with some really talented and respected dancers like Ahava. I try to keep myself in regular practice with other local dancers; I’ll actually be doing a double veil workshop up north next week. I’m looking forward to that – it’ll be a belly dance family reunion.
What is one misconception about Belly Dancing?
That it is stripping, plain and simple. Belly dance is done in the Middle East at family functions, including weddings with small children present. Many people think that body tipping is a normal or traditional part of a belly dance show, but it is not, and I think that’s part of why people associate belly dancing with stripping. I don’t let people ever touch me – I like to dance around the crowd with a tipping jar on my head instead. It makes the experience classy, more fun for children and women who find body tipping questionable, and not disrespectful to me or the cultures that I’m representing.
I love my dance studio the Firehouse 5 (of course!), and Southside Park which is right down the alley. That alien ship lit up at night is one of the best things about downtown Sacramento. I also enjoy catching live music at the Torch Club and Harlows – I work at a music festival every summer and those two places usually have my favorite acts playing there. Sometimes I’ll go to the Distillery with my friends on karaoke nights – it’s really like watching ‘American Idol’ live, all the good and all the bad that goes with it. I also have a lot of gay friends, so I go to Faces and Badlands with them a lot.
I’m very big on sushi. I can’t claim loyalty to any particular spot because they all have their own wonderful twist that I enjoy, but I like Nishiki a lot and finally tried Azukar recently. I confess, my favorite fancy food is in San Francisco at Kuleto’s. I could write a novel about my love for that place.
The carna asada fries from La Garnacha! Talk about guilty pleasure…
I love buying clothes from my friend Felicia Strati at 19th & Capitol. She has the most amazing clothes from Europe; they’re classic but modern and unique all at once. I had the pleasure of modeling them at the Niello Concours Classic in 2009; she’s so empowered – she reminds me of a lioness. She’s not just a clothing vendor, she’s an impeccable stylist. She has an eerie sense for which items will look good on you – just trust her when you go in to try stuff on.
I get my hair done by Jennifer Clary at Strands Salon on Folsom Blvd. She’s an expert colorist and is always on my hair care, making sure everything’s in top condition. A belly dancer needs to whip her long, healthy hair back and forth after all, right? My friend Veronica at Byuti takes care of my eyebrows and skin care, though. She gives a microdermabrasion facial that is unbelievable, and she’s so passionate about the beauty industry. It really shows in her work; I fall asleep a lot during my facials with her, it’s so relaxing. I’ve been with both my gals anywhere from 3-5 years now and couldn’t be happier.
On a Friday night, you can be found at…?
If I’m not at Marrakech, then I’m either seeing live music, going out with friends, or sitting at home on the couch with my dog watching “The Soup”, “Chelsea Lately” or “True Blood”.
When you aren’t belly dancing you are probably…
In school, working on my business, or one of the above.
If another Grid Girl is interested in Belly Dancing how should she go about giving it a try?
Well, I’ll be a shameless promoter and recommend that any Grid Girl interested in belly dancing come give my weekly Tuesday night class at the Firehouse 5 in Ninth Street from 6:30-7:30 a try. It’s only $15 for a drop-in with discounts for buying a class series, and the experience may just change your life. I’m really accessible and approachable about answering questions and addressing concerns, so feel free to ask me anything about what you’re learning. I really want students to feel comfortable and like they’re having fun.