dance of the seven veils

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Alternative forms[edit]


Based on the Biblical description (Mark 6:22) of a salacious dance performed (by Salome, according to tradition) in the court of King Herod. The precise term "dance of the seven veils" was reportedly first used in the stage directions of Oscar Wilde's play Salome (1891).


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dance of the seven veils (plural dances of the seven veils)

  1. (idiomatic) A striptease performance.
    • 2010, Ron S. King The Dreams of Neptune, →ISBN, p. 143 (Google preview):
      And as for the next room, which was for the dances of the ‘Seven Veils’, I could not wait to see the mind-blowing performance! I joined the men in the queue and jostled my way into the room, seating myself on one of the rickety chairs.
    • 2010 May 30, Peter Rainer, "Sex and the City 2: movie review," Christian Science Monitor (US) (retrieved 27 Sep 2015):
      If King had any wit he would have included a scene where a burka-clad Samantha performs the dance of the seven veils for one of her many smitten studs.
  2. (idiomatic, by extension) The incremental disclosure of tantalizing bits of information.
    • 2006 Dec. 5, Ron Elving, "Declaring for President is a Dance of Seven Veils," National Public Radio (US) (retrieved 27 Sep 2015):
      "Testing the waters" is a veil for what candidates do in the years when it's too unseemly to be seen actually running for president. . . . But this veil is dropped when candidate and handlers believe the coyness has begun to cloy. And then the candidate's dance of the seven veils has begun.
    • 2009 Jan 11, Simon Sebag Montefiore, "In Russia, Power Has No Heirs," New York Times (retrieved 27 Sep 2015):
      Mr. Putin’s succession and (likely) restoration is a leisurely dance of the seven veils in which one veil is dropped only for another to be donned.
    • 2015 Sept. 18, "Don’t panic about early city budget dance," Hamilton Spectator (Canada) (retrieved 27 Sep 2015):
      Every year around this time, staff and politicians take the first steps in the annual budget process — called the Dance of the Seven Veils in some quarters.