This is a lesson I think many belly dancers have learnt the hard way!
It can feel a bit controlling and almost arrogant to insist upon payment up front but it is really the best policy to have. Years ago, I was lucky enough to have read an article written on this very topic, outlining why one should get money upfront. BUT living in a country area I thought that a bit more laid back approach would be better suited. I thought I would leave that hardnosed approach to business to the city slickers.
NOT A GOOD IDEA!
Over the years I have found that the advice of experienced dancers is gold.
Thankfully my initial reluctance to take the advice didn’t lead me to getting burnt (financially) too badly.
I now tell my clients that I don’t consider a booking locked in until the non-refundable deposit is paid and the balance is to be paid BEFORE I perform with the exact details outlined in the invoice. Yes, there are a few times I have been a bit flexible but upfront payment is the most stress free way to deal with the issue of money.
Before I did this I ended up in situations like at an Australia Day celebration a number of years ago. The event organiser had promised payment before the gig but then was ‘not available’ before we danced. We performed our set in the blazing mid day Australian Sun and then spent the next 2 hours traipsing around trying to find the organiser (who wasn’t answering their phone). They avoided us like the plague but we caught them in the end and they duly handed over the cash. In that 2 hours we all managed some very fine sunburn and were made to feel like tramps begging for cash.
After that experience (and unfortunately a few others, LOL). I started to be a bit stricter and I remembered what I had read.
No deposit – No booking
Don’t pay the invoice – Don’t get to see the show
Another excellent reason to get paid in advance is safety. Thankfully I haven’t had to live this one myself yet but friends have. Please also stipulate a safety clause in your booking form/ contract. If you start dancing at a private function and “weird uncle al” or whoever starts trying to take your bra top off, grope you, etc then you should be able to leave immediately and know you have already been paid. No dancer should feel like they have to endure poor behaviour so they can get their money.
Don’t believe me yet?
Here is inspiration for this post – a belly dance troupe that has had to sue in order to get paid. If you have ever been to court, then you will know that even a small claim is stressful to handle.
We want to have our energy for dance and creativity, not have it expended on tedious legal proceedings.
What are your thoughts? Have you ever had difficulty in getting paid?