It occurs to me that some (probably most) people reading the above post might not know what a hafla is. After all, before I started bellydancing, I had no ideas such events existed, or that there was even a bellydance community to have events!
Haflas in the UK are basically bellydance parties. There are varying degrees of formality with these parties, ranging from big stage shows starring professional dancers to groups of people dancing together in a living room. Most of the ones I've been to are midway in this scale, with performances from students (and sometimes professionals) from nearby areas. Class performances, solo performances, duets and groups. Egyptian/cabaret style, tribal, fusion. The audience is usually filled with people from nearby classes, and their families and friends, and one performer will get up and do their bit, then the next, etc. There's usually a half-time break for more casual dancing to music and sometimes a buffet is put on at this interval. Then there are more performances and another time to dance at the end.
Sometimes time to dance is interspersed with the performances, so there will be one or two performers, then everyone can dance for a couple of songs, and so on through the night. (We haven't decided which version the August hafla will be yet, with two halves or this more casual arrangement. They both have their good points!)
Sometimes people set up stalls around the edge of the hall, or somewhere at the edge of the venue, whatever it's set up like. They'll sell bellydance costumes, hip belts, jewellery - basically anything sparkly. Bellydancers love sparkly!!!
The proceeds from the ticket sales (at least around here, in this area of Scotland, I can't speak for the rest of the UK) generally go to charity. Sometimes a local one, sometimes something close to the organiser's heart (again, no idea yet what charity will be getting the proceeds from this event!)
Sometimes there's a raffle in the interval. People donate prizes like bottles of wine, or cosmetics, or chocolates, or anything else you can think of (someone I know won a thigh-master once!) and the proceeds from raffle ticket sales go to the charity too. (Guess what? I have no idea if we'll be having a raffle either! I guess writing this post is worth it if only to make a list of all the things I haven't decided!)
And that, in a nutshell, is haflas in the UK, at least this part of Scotland. Does it differ where you live? Or have I forgotton anything important? Leave a comment and let me know what your haflas are like! :D I needs all the help I can get!