Belly dancing‘s exact origins are a bit of a mystery, but it’s suspected to have started in Egypt. It started more as a folk dance. In the olden days, evil spirits were thought to roam the earth, and will enter into babies about to be born. Other women of the community will surround the mother in labour and undulate their bellies to confuse the spirit as to which woman is really pregnant, preventing the birth of an unwelcome spirit. That is why it is also known among the dancers as the “ dance of life”.
The clothes worn weren't always so sexy until modern media got involved and thus got more widespread in that form. It’s a sensual dance, not a sexual dance, commonly performed in weddings in Egypt.
It’s viewed more as a celebration for the women in western countries, but apparently in Egypt, as women are more oppressed, it has negative connotations and belly dancers are not quite as respected, having to perform in night clubs and being assaulted by men.
Alt version included.