What Were Belly Dancers Doing Outside The Supreme Court?

Trying to get attention, yes, but they were also there in support of moving to a single payer healthcare system, like Canada’s.

Alex Wong / Getty Images

Among the crowds assembled outside the Supreme Court in anticipation of a ruling on the Affordable Care Act, two women stood out: they were belly dancers. They weren’t holding posters or shouting in protest. They were actually belly dancing. But rest assured: they had a political message.

Russell Mokhiber, the founder of Single Payer Action, a group that’s calling for a complete elimination of insurance companies and a switch to a single payer system like those in Canada or the U.K., says one of the women was his wife, Angela Petry and the other was her friend, Jennifer Carpenter-Peak. Both are belly dancing teachers.

“The idea was to draw attention to the cause,” Mokhiber says. “When you have belly dancers, people pay attention.”

It looks like they did:

Bellydancers with drum backup getting a lot of attention #SCOTUS http://t.co/Xx0X89vW— Zoe Tillman

Apparently the bellydancers from the SCOTUS protest parked in our building. You should have seen the looks on the faces of our security guys— Gautham Nagesh

Those bellydancers outside the Supreme Court picked a very clever way to get attention. #healthcare #SCOTUS— Josh Levs

The bellydancers are stealing the thunder from the actual ruling today. LOL

— Chaddyr23 (@Chaddyr23)

The bellydancers are stealing the thunder from the actual ruling today. LOL— Chaddyr23

The dancers, who call themselves The West Virginia Belly Dancers For Single Pay, have put on this act before. In 2009, they danced outside the office of congresswoman who doesn’t support single payer. Later that year, a group of Seattle belly dancers adopted the idea and staged a “Shake It Up For Single Payer” event of their own.

The group was hoping that the Supreme Court would strike down “Obamacare” and rule it unconstitutional, with the (slightly far-fetched) notion that policymakers might as a result, consider a single payer system void of insurance companies.

Though Mokhiber recognizes that “the Supreme Court has made clear that the legal phase is over,” he said it’s not unlikely that protesting belly dancers might appear again.

“My guess is that the majority of belly dancers would support a single payer system,” he adds.

Mark Wilson / Getty Images
Mark Wilson / Getty Images
Evan Vucci / AP

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