Middle Eastern Culture and Dance Association

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middle-eastern-culture-dance-associationEverythingLongBeach.com recently spoke with Blume Bauer, President of Middle Eastern Culture and Dance Association, via email.

How long has Middle Eastern Culture and Dance Association been around? Did it start in Long Beach?

33 Years. It started in the LA area and has moved around over the years.

Describe Middle Eastern Culture and Dance Association. Tell us a little about your mission, the people you serve or your goals.

The Middle Eastern Culture and Dance Association (MECDA) is a group that works for you! Created in 1977. MECDA is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the community as a source of education, communication, promotion, and inspiration for the near and middle east music, dance, and arts community worldwide. Our members include dancers, musicians, artists, and other persons interested in Near East and Middle Eastern culture, music, dance, and arts. Our goal is to bring a sense of unity to a richly diverse community as well as celebrate the culture and its arts. Join us in bringing the community together and working as a whole.

How is Middle Eastern Culture and Dance Association different from similar nonprofits?

We are the longest existing Middle Eastern and Dance organization there is. There are many others but none of them have been at it as long as we have. We have successfully supported charities, donated funds, clothes, and food to women’s shelters, and continue to spread love not hate and fear for the Middle Eastern community.

How is Middle Eastern Culture and Dance Association involved with the community?

We work to promote family entertainment through belly dance while educating the public about the history of the dance. We want the public to know that belly dance is as respectable as ballet and an even older art form.

What are some of the biggest successes Middle Eastern Culture and Dance Association has had?

Last year was our 32nd annual fundraiser and our first year on the Queen Mary. We doubled the largest attendance we have ever had by bringing in over 4,000 attendees (not counting comped attendees, volunteers, etc). We raised funds for a charity through a massage booth filled with volunteers.

What is the most rewarding part of running Middle Eastern Culture and Dance Association?

Making dancers feel comfortable in their environment. Giving women a safe haven to be who they are. But mostly, the most rewarding thing about educating dancers is the confidence that this art form brings to them. Belly dancers come in all shapes and sizes, all colors, all religions, and ages. Our message… it’s beautiful to be who you are!

What are the challenges you face — as a nonprofit, as an advocacy group, or in your industry?

Mostly financial challenges are what come up for us. We would expand greatly with the capital behind us to do so. However, we all believe in hard work and perseverance – it will get us there.

What are the future plans for Middle Eastern Culture and Dance Association?

We are currently working on a plan to add an additional event each year that would teach dancers how to become a professional in their field, through lectures, seminars, and workshops. We would cover the business aspects as well as how to work in the entertainment industry. In addition to working on this event, we are working on a scholarship program to help dancers travel and learn.

Do you have any special events or fundraisers you’d like to tell us about?

Our annual event is coming up in just a few days! It’s our 33rd year, MECDA’s Cairo Caravan. It’s a 3 day festival, with 3 stages of belly dancing all weekend long; FREE lectures, seminars, and film screenings to help bring Middle Eastern awareness to the community; dance workshops with 11 instructors; a gala show; and our very own belly dance ghost tour on the ship! We also have two contests, a Shimmython to raise funds for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and a bra decorating contest called braVo! to raise funds for the National Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation.

How can people get involved with Middle Eastern Culture and Dance Association? What do you need — volunteers, donations, etc?

Both! Volunteers are always welcomed. We run on volunteerism as the entire board is made up of volunteers who get a gas stipend each month. Donations are usually raised for charities that we are helping to sponsor.

What is the most inspiring advice that you received and who did it come from?

“Keep your wits about you and never mind any drama that rolls your way… it’s an organization mostly comprised of women, stand tall, and they will follow.” from my dad (who also manages a NPO – a youth camp in Wrightwood, CA)

One Last Thing:

Thanks so much for this opportunity to tell you all about us.

Middle Eastern Culture and Dance Association Details:

  • Address:  PO Box 8246, Lancaster, CA 93539-8246
  • Phone Number:  310.494.0104
  • Website:  http://www.mecda.org

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