Song for Belly Dancer
Irving Berlin
Irving Berlin
Irving Berlin
Mr. President
From the musical comedy, “Mr. President” by Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse, music by Irving Berlin, this song is injected into political show as an excuse to liven up the Oval Office with a dancing girl from a carnival who has caught the eye of the President’s son. In the verse, the line “it was done like this” is set to the well-known music line associated with oriental dancing that Berlin used years before in his song “In My Harem” for the same reason: the audience was familiar with the line as a signature for belly dancers.             In the second chorus there are references to other performers and shows: Frank Sinatra, well known for his singing and partying, Arthur Murray, the popular dance studio impresario, and the “surrey with the fringe” on top, made famous in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!”

My youth was spent in the Orient

Where they never taught me to waltz.

You’d be surprised, when I exercised,

It was never done to a waltz.

It was done like this,

But never to a waltz.




In ancient Siam, women like I am,

Indoors and on the street,

No woman dances with her feet.

Egyptian, Persian, only one version,

No other stands a chance.

Feet are for walking, not for dance.

To an Oriental fiddle,

You can see them shake their middle,

The feet don’t mean a thing,

Middles are all they swing.

Even an Egyptian mummy wiggles her tummy,

Wiggles it, so and so,

That’s the only dance I know.


A Greek or Roman without abdomen

Could learn to do it too,

They all could do it, so could you.

With Cleopatra, even Sinatra would have enjoyed the view.

You don’t need Arthur Murray,

Just a fringe that’s on a surrey,

Will satisfy your needs,

Dancing between the beads.

Ev’rybody shake your torso, sexy, but more so,

Shake it, come on let’s go.

Let’s do the only dance I know.