Previously, I wrote about “how to belly dance in the cold“. Though, if you perform enough in the cold, your weakened immune system might catch a cold or even worse, a flu!
|A big smile helps to conceal how terrible I feel at this show.
Find a substitute
Whether it is for a restaurant belly dance show or an Arabian Nights private party, everyone will be much happier if you can find a healthy substitute to take your place. Most restaurant owners or event hosts will be glad you made the smart decision to stay home and not spread your germs at the show.
If you are performing professionally, you need a list of professional dancers whom you trust will do a great job in emergency situations where you can’t perform.
If you do not have any professional contacts, get some! Providing a client with a great substitute in an emergency situation will make you look so much more professional than cancelling on them without any referrals.
No subs! What next?
Every once in a while, you run down the substitute list and come up empty handed. Now what? At this point you have two options: dance sick or cancel the show. Think carefully and use good judgement.
If you have highly contagious strep throat and are scheduled to perform at a baby shower, the pregnant mother will not be pleased if she finds out you infected her with strep throat right before her delivery day. Likewise, infecting a bride with a terrible flu at her belly dance bachelorette party will leave her cursing you if she is sick on her wedding day.
|Image of a cold virus.
Most colds and flues give warning signs like sniffling, fever, fatigue, aches and pains. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that you can be contagious up to 5-7 days after the symptoms begin and recommends you stay home at least for 24 hours after your fever breaks (except to get medical attention). If you think it is unsafe for you to perform, communicate with the event planner and let them know the potential infection risks to others as well as the health risk to yourself. Most likely, they will appreciate your concern for their health and safety.
Sick, but not “that” sick
Edward R. Laskowski, MD, a Mayo Clinic physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist, says mild to moderate physical activity is fine as long as the symptoms are “above the neck”. Attempts to exercise if you have chest congestion, fever, fatigue or widespread muscle aches can result in serious injury or illness complications.
In a Ball State University study, exercise physiologist Dr. Leonard Kaminsky studied the effects of a cold on athletes. Surprisingly, his research showed that neither lung function nor overall exercise performance were decreased in subjects infected for two days with a cold virus (when symptoms were at their worst).
Additionally, there was no difference in symptoms or time to recovery between the control group and a group that exercised 40 minutes every other day at 70% of their max heart rate. Again, it was warned that subjects should not exercise when experiencing fever or chest congestion.
So you have had a cold for a few days and need to perform at a birthday party or restaurant show. You feel terrible, but no one can cover for you and the show must go on. Here are some tips to ease the pain of dancing with a cold.
Before the show
- Rest as much as you can and drink plenty of fluids.
- Take nasal decongestants and/or expectorants well before the show time to clear out nasal passages and chest congestion. Do not take these medications right before your performance. Ick! The nasal decongestant will also help dry out a runny nose. Anti-histamines also have this drying effect, but can make you drowsy.
- Moisturize the skin under your nose if it is very dry.
- Try your best to call in favors and have someone drive you to the performance so you can continue resting in the car.
- Put on all your makeup except for concealer under your nose. It will just come off anyway if you blow your nose and further irritate your skin to keep putting it on and wiping it off. Wait till you get to the venue to dab on concealer.
- Take a cough suppressant if you are coughing a lot.
- Wash your hands.
At the show
- Act normal. Don’t complain. No one wants to know that you are icky. Even if you feel terrible, put on a big smile. You will not receive brownie points or pity for dancing while sick; people will just think you are icky.
- Minimize interaction with guests before and after the show.
- Find a “hidden” area to stash water (or tea with honey) and tissues hidden under the props you will use. If there is a problem during the performance, you can duck behind the wall/door to fix a leaky nose or tearing eye. Don’t wipe your nose with your hand or veil or costume! Eww!
- Wash your hands.
Centrifugal force pulls loose material away from the center (skirt, hair, etc.). This is why spins should be avoided with a runny nose. Eww!
During the show
- Avoid spins, turns, or sharp head movements. Being sick or taking cold medication can alter your balance. Also a leaky nose plus quick spinning is a gross disaster waiting to happen!
- Turn your music up a bit louder than normal to mask sniffling or a suppressed cough.
- Do not lean your head forward or look down. Keep your head held high to keep a runny nose at bay.
- Visit your tissue stash between songs or as needed. Drink some water or tea if your throat is itchy.
- Don’t overexert yourself! Dial back a little bit so you can last through the show without collapsing.
- Limit audience participation and speak sparingly. Show them how to do the movements, don’t voice instructions. The less you talk, the more convincing you’ll be that you are just fine.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Take care of expelling sick “ick”.
- Nasal spray to dry out a leaky nose so you can breathe again.
- Reapply makeup; especially under the nose if you are using a lot of tissues.
- Wash your hands.
After the Show
- Wash your hands.
- Make a quick exit. Stretch and cool down, but don’t stay to chat with guests.
- Go straight home.
Although it is not advisable or preferable to dance when sick, sometimes it has to be done. Have you performed when sick? What did you do to ease the discomfort and hide the cold to the audience? Please share your stories and tips below.