Although much scholarly attention has been devoted to examining the benefits and costs of leisure, few studies have investigated people who leave their leisure activities. Rather, leisure scholars typically conclude that benefits outweigh challenges, and people continue their leisure participation. Using qualitative interviews conducted in both 2006 and 2011 with ten former belly dancers, I explore why people leave a physically based, female-dominated artistic form of serious leisure. I show that women leave belly dance for a variety of social and psychological reasons, including having different goals, redefining the meaning of the dance, prioritizing other interests, financial challenges, and having familial responsibilities. Women also leave belly dance for physical reasons, such as aging and declining health. Beyond typical explanations of time and money, this study expands our understanding of why people may abandon leisure pursuits.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Bartram, S. A. (2001). Serious leisure careers among whitewater kayakers: A feminist perspective. World Leisure, 43, 4–11.
Brown, C. A., McGuire, F., & Voelkl, J. (2008). The link between successful aging and serious leisure. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 66, 73–95.
Carlton, D. (1994). Looking for little Egypt. Bloomington: IDD Books.
Charmaz, K. (2014). Constructing Grounded Theory. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Dilley, R. E., Scraton, S. J., & S. J. (2010). Women, climbing, and serious leisure. Leisure Studies, 29(2), 125–141.
Dox, D. (2006). Dancing around orientalism. Drama Review, 50, 52–71.
Drew, R. S. (1997). Embracing the role of amateur: How karaoke bar patrons become regular performers. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 25, 449–468.
Finley, N. J. (2010). Skating femininity: Gender maneuvering in women’s roller derby. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 39, 359–387.
Freysinger, V. J. (1995). The dialectics of leisure and the development of women and men in mid-life: An interpretative study. Journal of Leisure Research, 27(1), 61–84.
Gibson, H., Willming, C., & Holdnak, A. (2002). We’re gators . . . not just gator fans: Serious leisure and University of Florida football. Journal of Leisure Research, 34, 397–425.
Gillespie, D. L., Leffler, A., & Lerner, E. E. (2002). If it weren’t for my hobby, I’d have a life: Dog sports, serious leisure, and boundary negotiations. Leisure Studies, 21, 285–304.
Glaser, B., & Strauss, A. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Chicago: Aldine.
Glover, T. (2018). All the lonely people: Social isolation and the promise and pitfalls of leisure. Leisure Sciences, 40, 25–35.
Goff, S. J., Fick, D. S., & Oppliger, R. A. (1997). The moderating effect of spouse support on the relation between serious leisure and spouses’ perceived leisure-family conflict. Journal of Leisure Research, 29, 47–60.
Gregory, S. F., & Dimmock, K. (2019). Alive and kicking: The benefits of scuba diving leisure for older Australian women. Annals of Leisure Research, 22, 550–574.
Harmon, J., & Woosnam, K. (2018). Extending the leisure substitutability concept. Annals of Leisure Research, 21, 424–439.
Heuser, L. (2005). “We're not too old to play sports: the career of women lawn bowlers.” Leisure Studies. 24, 45–60.
Jarrar, R. (2014). “Why I can’t stand white belly dancers: Whether they know it or not, white Women who Practice Belly Dance are Engaging in Appropriation.” Retrieved March 6. Alternet.org.
Jones, I. (2000). “A model of serious leisure identification: the case of football fandom.” Leisure Studies, 19, 282–298.
Kane, M., & Zink, R. (2004). Package adventure tours: Markers in serious leisure careers. Leisure Studies, 23, 329–345.
Kraus, R. (2017). Gendered bodies and leisure: The practice and performance of American belly dance. New York, NY: Routledge.
Kraus, R. (2013). Becoming a belly dancer: Gender, the life course, and the beginnings of a serious leisure career. Leisure Studies, 33, 565–579.
Lamont, M., Kennelly, M., & Moyle, B. D. (2014). Costs and perseverance in serious leisure careers. Leisure Sciences, 36, 114–160.
Lamont, M., Kennelly, M., & Wilson, E. (2012). Competing priorities as constraints in event travel careers. Tourism Management, 33, 1068–1079.
Liechty, T., West, S., Naar, J., & Son, J. (2017). Perceptions of ageing among older women softball players. Annals of Leisure Research, 20, 295–313.
Lofland, J., Snow, D.A., Anderson, L., & Lofland, L.H. (2005). Analyzing social settings: A guide to qualitative observation and analysis. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Lovelock, B., Jellum, C., & Carr, A. (2018). Pulling the pin on active outdoor leisure: Building an understanding of leisure abandonment from the narratives of outdoor recreationists. Leisure Sciences, 40, 406–422.
MacCosham, B., & Gravelle, F. (2016). Impact of casual leisure on serious leisure experiences and identity in a Canadian junior hockey context. Leisure/Loisir, 40, 325–343.
Major, W. F. (2001). The benefits and costs of serious running. World Leisure, 42, 12–25.
Misener, K., Doherty, A., & Hamm-Kerwin, S. (2010). Learning from the experiences of older adult volunteers in sports: A serious leisure perspective. Journal of Leisure Research, 42, 267–289.
Moe, A. M. (2012). Beyond the belly: An appraisal of middle eastern dance (aka belly dance) as leisure. Journal of Leisure Research, 44, 201–233.
Pavlidis, A. (2012). From riot grrrls to roller derby? Exploring the relations between gender, music and sport. Leisure Studies, 31, 165–176.
Raisborough, J. (1999). The concept of serious leisure and women’s experiences of the sea cadet corps. Leisure Studies, 18, 67–71.
Sellers-Young, B. (1992). Raks el Sharki: Transculturation of a folk form. Journal of Popular Culture, 26, 141–152.
Shay, A., & Sellers-Young, B. (2005). Introduction. In A. Shay & B. Sellers-Young (Eds.), Belly dance: Orientalism, transnationalism, and harem fantasy (pp. 1–25). Costa Mesa: Mazda.
Son, J. S., Kerstetter, D. L., Yarnal, C. M., & Baker, B. L. (2007). Promoting older women’s health and well-being through social leisure environments: What we have learned from the red hat society. Journal of Women and Aging, 19, 89–104.
Stalp, M.C. (2006). “Negotiating time and space for serious leisure: Quilting in the modern U.S. home.” Journal of Leisure Research. 38, 104–132.
Stalp, M. C., & Conti, R. (2011). Serious leisure in the home: Professional quilters negotiate family space. Gender, Work and Organization, 18, 399–414.
Stalp, M. C., Radina, M. E., & Lynch, A. (2008). 'We do it cuz its fun': Gendered fun and leisure for midlife women through red hat society membership. Sociological Perspectives, 51, 325–347.
Stebbins, R. A. (2019). “When leisure engenders health: fragile effects and precautions,” Annals of Leisure Research, 1–15.
Stebbins, R. A. (2014). Careers in serious leisure: From dabbler to devotee in search of fulfillment. UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
Stebbins, R. A. (2012). The idea of leisure: First principles. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.
Stebbins, R. A. (2011). The semiotic self and serious leisure. The American Sociologist, 42, 238–248.
Stebbins, R. A. (2008). “Leisure abandonment: Quitting free-time activity that we love.” Leisure Reflections, 14–19.
Stebbins, R. A. (2007). Serious leisure: A perspective for our time. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.
Stebbins, R. A. (1992a). Costs and rewards in barbershop singing. Leisure Studies, 11, 123–133.
Stebbins, R. A. (1992b). Amateurs, professionals, and serious leisure. Montreal, Canada: McGill- Queen’s University.
Thompson, B. Y. (2019). Women covered in ink: Tattoo collecting as serious leisure. International Journal of the Sociology of Leisure, 2, 285–299.
Veal, A. J. (2007). The serious leisure perspective and the experience of leisure. Leisure Sciences, 39(3), 205–223.
All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Ball State University Institutional Review Board (reference number 244943–3) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Kraus, R. Abandoning Belly Dance: Leaving Female-Dominated Serious Leisure. Int J Sociol Leis (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41978-020-00052-5
- Leisure abandonment