Or send them a check for $460 explaining that on second thought you don't feel right about taking their money (you can even tell them why), and wait until they've cashed your check to cash theirs.
“I feel like cashing this check will create a social debt that will last till they die.”

Look at it this way, cashing this check means you can cut them out of your life forever. It’s a payoff for having to put up with their bullshit, but no more.
This is how you knows belly dancers aren't alt-Strippers: A stripper would never think twice about cashing the check.
Take the money, change your phone number, send back any mail from them unopened with "Not known at this address", block their emails! AND going forward, NEVER EVER stay at strangers' homes while they're there, EVER!!! Send thanks to the cosmos that you're not a missing person/sexual assault/murder statistic right now!
No, no, no, don't take the fucking money.
Take it! You earned it. It is NOT noble to refuse money. People in power with money invented that stupid concept to shame women and others to not take money when their dignity is compromised as a way to put them down further. Fuck that! They are the ones with no real dignity and THEY should be poor. Not you.
As my late zaydeh used to say, "When somebody offers you money, take it."
Sorry Dan but she is obligated to write them a thank you note if it is a gift, which clearly she believes it to be. If she accepts the gift, etiquette demands an acknowledgement. It doesn't have to be personal or invite further contact.
Plus she stayed with them for free for fucksake. Fucking millennials. What a user.
@6 close. But it's more closely tied to us plebes wanting to emulate the rich and display our wealth by magnanimously refusing gifts. It's a very western concept; it comes from the same place as a lot of our culture's rules about not brazenly displaying wealth or good fortune and basically our derision of earnestness.
Take it, and sever ties. Be done with them. You owe them nothing. Pete05 - what the hell? Etiquette dictates that a host makes his/her guests comfortable, which bars lingering hugs, suggestive comments and the like. Guests of straight-up creeps aren't required to thank their hosts for being mistreated.
Cash the check and don't stress about it. The fact that this couple are in their 70s makes it an easier call than it might have been if they were middle-aged. My guess is they don't have much (if any) contact with their kids or grandkids (if any) and thus they all too easily became overly familiar and solicitous of a random young person who came into their orbit, subconsciously trying to fill this void in their lives. Sure they acted inappropriately, but chalk it up as a life lesson, cut them a bit of slack and be more discerning where you stay next time. I expect you'll understand their behavior completely when you're their age.
Belly dancing is so cool, and it's only $500 not $5,000. Think of it as payment LW, for having you around, brightening up their lives.
If you feel morally compromised and uncomfortable within yourself, or in some way personally or emotionally obligated by accepting the "gift", return the excess money to them and be free. Then next time you bump into them at a dance event you can avoid them without qualms.
@6: Hallelujah, this is fuck-off money. Anyone talking her to not take the money isn’t bolstering her morals or good treatment. A touring belly dancer is only going to be worse off for refusing the money from these people. She can use it to better herself.

@8/9: Creeps supporting creeps. Staying on someone’s couch doesn’t justify this behavior. Paycheck for a performance doesn’t justify treating a belly dancer as someone you’re entitled to affections from.
@14: They already paid her, thus feel so entitled. Overage returned won’t change this. Thus, take the mistreatment-overage and use it to remind yourself that they’re not worth the frustration.
To reiterate: punishing yourself won’t harm these people any.
Seems to me the Creep Couple treated CASH uncomfortably like a prostitute and the huge gift is their way of driving the point home. CASH is uncomfortable accepting the gift because it would seem doing so is acquiescing to their point of view. (The subject has come up before that while many of think there's nothing wrong with being a sex worker, being mistaken for one is insulting in a way that being asked "do you work here" in a department store isn't.) Here's my advice for CASH: Cash the check. Have nothing more to do with the creepy couple. Know in your heart that you didn't trade sex for money, that you haven't been bought off, that you're still free to warn others about the way you were treated and the way you felt.
As St.Omar of B’more once said, Money ain’t got no owners, only spenders.
Hell yes, cash it.
As Dan says, you can always give some or all of it to a worthy charity. Shee-iiit, I’d cash on of those bars of Nazi gold you see in movies with the eagle on it, send it to Planned Parenthood, and they’d be glad to have it.
Take the money! Run! Take the money! Run! I'll laugh until my head comes off! Ice age coming! Who's in a bunker? Women and children first! We're not scaremongering! This is really happening! Let me hear both sides!
@20: I see your weekly meth delivery came in.
Keep the money. If you were sexual harassed at a corporate job, you wouldn't return your paycheck. Seems like you earned that money, even if they were never creepy. Take it knowing that it doesn't obligate you to anything.
Someone here is not a Radiohead fan.
@18 a lingering hug does not equate to "treated like a prostitute". That reminds me of an old Almost Live! skit where a wife tells her husband that the receptionist at her office said she 'dressed like a prostitute' but the audience knows that the receptionist had said 'i like your shoes, they really brighten the office up'. I don't have a lot of experience with prostitutes but I imagine it involves something more than long hugs.

@24 You might be surprised. I have several clients who pay me a lot of money on a fairly regular basis just for hugs and kisses. A lot of people just need human contact and don't know how / where else to get it.
@24: Getting “tipped” along with unwelcome and repeat physical attention makes a person feel uncomfortable. Bellydancers don’t want to think of themselves as sex workers.
Strippers may do burlesque but not every burlesque dancer is a stripper.
@20 I'll swallow till I burst! Here I'm alive! Everything all of the time! Throw it in the fire!
@20 @21 I have seen too much! I haven't seen enough! You haven't seen it!
@26 Sure. LW didfelt uncomfortable, plainly. But that still doesn't round up to "treated like a prostitute".

@25 Great. People do like physical and human contact and struggle to get it - I'm glad they're finding a safe outlet.
Wtf, have you all gone crazy.. this young woman stays for free with a couple she hardly knows, has workshops where she's made forty dollars, and only now is feeling a bit conflicted re taking money from this couple. The moment of moral outrage should have been when they gave her the cheque.
Keeping the money doesn't mean she's a sex worker or has to send these people a happy thanksgiving card ( do such exist?). Just learn honey, that in life nothing is really free.
@30: “Nuh uh!” isnt a convincing opinion.
@33 Mobiles squerking!!!! Mobiles chirping!!!!
@32 I think you responded to the wrong post, pretty sure you meant @26?
Cash it. They were weird, mildly creepy. Take it as apology money. And if you really want to see creepy, read Girl with a Pearl Earring.
@35: The difference is that I explained why she felt that way, whereas you just said no, she’s wrong because I, Sportlandia, decree so.
Having a hobby/talent for tease doesn’t justify a personal sexual connection to the artist, and dancers who aren’t of the exotic variety find tips or any money beyond attendance uncomfortable, because they don’t see it as sex work.
CASH offers evidence that the husband in particular was "creepy," but interestingly leads with complaints that they were"clingy and invasive" and "they calling me their honorary daughter twice." It's that last bit in particularly which caught my attention. It hardly deserves the exclamation point it was given, and the sentiment make me wonder where there may be more going on here than CASH herself understands, and what comes off as creepy, is a product that history.

I would also note that while CASH describes what this couple has done for her: (i) they had gotten me performance opportunities, (ii) stayed in their home for four days for free, and (iii) taught in their home studio. This was in CASH's words "a great opportunity and next step for me professionally," and importantly, "this was the first time I have ever done this." Yet never acknowledges any gratitude. And the $500 is in keeping with what they have already done for her. I see no need to ascribe any sinister alternative motive. As she notes, "they said [the $500] was from both of them, to cover my expenses, but mostly that they wanted to "pay it forward" and that "they were at a point in their lives to give back" and wanted to support me as an artist." They have supported her endeavors in a number of ways and wanted to continue to do so.

And in the moment, "when they gave it to me I could feel how much they wanted this gift to mean to me." Again, that doesn't sound like people making a monetary gift to assuage their guilty feelings about their behavior.
Perfect advice for full range of morals. Maybe let them know you sent donation, before blocking and cutting them off.
@39: It’s possible it was innocuous but it’s hard to know about the subtext beyond lingering touches. I come from an area where kissing and hugging is a lot more expected than the Northwest, but I also don’t really force any of that on strangers either.

“Again, that doesn't sound like people making a monetary gift to assuage their guilty feelings about their behavior.”

I don’t get that it was implied, just the combination of money plus lovebombing attention/affection set her off. She may have not associated with them in the past so it’s hard to know what level of professionalism to expect.

There is a not-professional and slightly more romantic form of “patron” in the arts throughout the ages, so neither expression would surprise me.
There is no way I would accept this money--beyond the $40 actually earned.

She only got $40 for the classes because they were poorly planned--in coordination with the creepy couple, no doubt. It's likely, in context, they knew she would not make a substantial amount for her course but let her give it anyways because they anticipated some kind of obscure (or not so obscure) libidinal payoff from having her stay.

Next time, especially if she takes the amount she actually made--by contractual arrangement--she will plan better, offering classes where she's guaranteed a wider, enthusiastic takeup and makes her expenses and more, while forging contacts. She won't implicitly be beholden to people taking more than she wants to give, presuming a relationship that's intrusive and borderline-manipulative so that she can cover her costs and make the travel financially viable. Teaching belly-dancing, in theory, is viable. There are people who want to learn; there are studios that will enter into financial arrangements with visiting teachers (including recruitment and publicity) that make the teacher's stay a win-win. By only taking the measly $40 earned, the LW will be committing to finding these valuable professional arrangements, not getting paid off for unwillingly or grudgingly providing pseudo-sex work services to a needy, self-deceived older couple.
@18. Fichu. If she tolerated an uncomfortable situation anticipating her contractual share of the earnings--which she would have known would come to about $40--then she has not traded sex for money. If she takes the $500, ten times more than she earned, she has retroactively engaged in a lucrative form of sex work--or more lucrative, at least, than her teaching belly-dancing classes.
@43: Whatever erotic gains the couple may have thought up were not her intention or certainly execution. Her taking the money does not carry with it any retroactive intent of her own.

Fuck-off money like that carries with it the ability to be more discriminating and careful in the future. If all is as assumed it is their fault they took the low-key “tease” and physicality of this form of dance and built their own weird construct around it.

By your logic taking the $40 for a lesson she was exchanging money for their “pleasure” and thus engaging in “sex work”? These are factors out of her control, and she has little need to feel bad l because someone else’s social graces have atrophied.

She needs to take and use the gift in the manner in which it was proposed, as a contribution to her art and career.
@44. Her taking the money retroactively bestows consent on there being a financial component to their behavior, behavior she found uncomfortable.

In what sense is the top-up £460 'fuck-off money'? I'm not sure I understand the implications of the phrase. Do you mean the couple understood they overstepped a line and are compensating her through a small gift (to them?). I'm not sure they know they acted in such a way would make her call them 'perverts'. The guy said, 'You are a beautiful person.' 'In fact we see you as my symbolic daughter'. Then the couple looked at each other lovingly. Then he looked a bit too fixedly at her navel. He might not be aware that any of these are creepy.

The LW wants to have a career touring and giving belly dance classes. At the moment she does this in her home state. These activities seem financially viable; but perhaps she doesn't teach belly dance full-time. The way for her to have a thriving career is to tour--but she doesn't know too many people out of state. I'm not sure she's in a position to cut the couple entirely, both personally and professionally. Where else can she teach dance but in a studio? It might not be professional to do it in a private house--it could involve her in more compromising situations. And she doesn't know enough clients in the couple's state to do it anyways. So she needs other studios, but not to threaten her reputation as an emerging practitioner in the field by messily breaking with potential power-brokers--patrons and big studio owners.

I think she should refuse the top-up, saying something like, 'you know that long-term I have to be able to stand on my own two feet'. They might understand, then, they squicked her out. But they could say: 'we know the sessions didn’t work out for you financially. We so enjoyed having you here--we hope you stay again. We're in a position in our lives to make a gesture'. Then she has to say e.g. 'Actually this is what it's about. I found you over-familiar and want to restrict our financial dealings to the contractual arrangement'.
I read it that her share of the profits of the joint venture is £40, after the agreed costs of the loan of their studio space are taken into account. Free board is part of what induced her to take her first tour and is not in question here. If she had had a much larger attendance, she would have cleared much more.

In teaching belly dance, she is providing a service--like legal advice or private SAT tutoring. Other than sex work is also a service, there's nothing in this like sex work.
@45: “Her taking the money retroactively bestows consent“

That’s not how consent works.
@46: “In teaching belly dance, she is providing a service--like legal advice or private SAT tutoring. Other than sex work is also a service, there's nothing in this like sex work.”

I agree that teaching classes is athleticism, but why are you simultaneously bringing up “consent” if she couldn’t possibly see the context of the offer as sex work on any level? Her taking the money doesn’t make it better or worse, it just doesn’t worsen her financial position to satisfy the judgy moralizations of others.
“I think she should refuse the top-up, saying something like, 'you know that long-term I have to be able to stand on my own two feet'.”

And to this end, those I know who are a dance instructor are not brimming with cash, professionals are hustlers with as many side gigs as will pay the rent/keep the lights on, and pay for the physicality of their career. It’s more than beer money and it’s not fair to impose such judgment.
I would not accept the extra money. Write a note saying thanks. Forget about them.
@47. UndeadAyn. She consented to staying four days at the couple's house (let's say the last night, because their behavior must have built), even though she felt ill-at-ease at being dragged into a complex psychological setup where she was the couple's admirable daughter. She consented to the old guy's hugs going on too long because she felt they posed no physical threat; they were no more than inappropriate. But she does not consent to a relationship going forward in which the couple subsidize her un-economic dance classes by, implicitly, buying her presence, hugs and going-along-with their fulsome compliments.

By giving her more than her contractual cut, whether they know it or not, the couple have supposed she gave them some kind of service--to the tune of $460. I guess she could make clear to them that the 'service' was unwilling; they made her feel uncomfortable, and she does not want to be put in that position again--and still pocket the $460. Mentally it might be less of a clean break, though--and she might feel sullied. My main reason for saying 'don't accept the money' is that the experience will teach her that her dance classes have to work financially--not just artistically, pedagogically, morally--whatever--but financially. She says she feels she earnt the money. No. Maybe she deserved it. She earnt $40. Unless she can accept being paid for the impromptu pseudo-sex work.
She is the one with a moral position--that the hugs, stares and unwanted attention are compromising. I would have nothing against e.g. someone who earnt any amount of money by swanning round a rich person's house in a half-open bathrobe and sharing their Jacuzzi--while talking of Mughal Art or belly-dancing or the eternal feminine or whatever tickled the host's fancy. Why on earth object? Good luck to them. Good luck to all of them--the guest, the hypothetical old man and his old wife.

My concern is with how the LW gets a genuine career going in her own and neighboring states.
@51: “My main reason for saying 'don't accept the money' is that the experience will teach her that her dance classes have to work financially--not just artistically, pedagogically, morally--whatever--but financially. She says she feels she earnt the money. No.“

She dealt with an uncomfortable situation and rejecting the money which does NOT come with any future stipulations is not accepting the situation as it occurred.

I don’t know why you’re imposing this weird moral structure around the recipient of uncomfortable behavior and trying to force her to be worse off to “learn her lesson”. It’s somewhat weird, tbqh.
“My concern is with how the LW gets a genuine career going in her own and neighboring states.”

Then don’t click your tongue at her when we suggest that she should use the money for how it was suggested by the couple versus how you feel about them. She can better herself and leave weirder scenarios behind.
Cluck, not click.
@37 inches, miles, obviously there is no difference there.
@53. Are you sure the money does not 'come with further stipulations'? I think it comes with the expectation that the couple will bail the LW out in the future, in exchange for their excessive admiration, lingering hugs etc. The reason (well, a big part of the reason) she's in two minds about whether she can accept it is that she doesn't want to be morally compromised going forward.

I am not the one who thinks exchanging walking round in belly dancing clothes and having e.g. views on female spirituality and its relation to sexual energy for board and $460 'weird'. This would be an altogether unexceptionable exchange so far as it was consensual. As far as possible, I've only tried to retail the LW's reactions.

My view would be that the people who know the LW feels compromised but are suggesting she takes the money are guilty of class condescension. They think she's too poor / too young / too early in her career to have morals.
Just on a practical point, I'm not sure that the LW will be able to avoid the couple in the future in social and professional contexts. They are major patrons of dance in her area. There aren't that many people who want to learn belly-dancing where she lives. It’s reasonable to think she wants to be on civil terms with them but not beholden.
@57: “My view would be that the people who know the LW feels compromised but are suggesting she takes the money are guilty of class condescension. They think she's too poor / too young / too early in her career to have morals.”

Shaming her with your personal “morals” is not a positive.

@58: She implied that the money would help her better organize her touring and avoid these people (and people like them) in the future. If she’s making $40 per class this is a stop she can pass over in the future.
@59. The LW does not say which of her two workshops only had an attendance of one person. It’s likely (I'd think closer to 'likely' than 'possible') that it was the one not at the creepy couple's home studio. In other words, the whole financial viability of her trip, the next stage of her career, depended on the support of this couple. It doesn't seem to me as if she has the contacts to make a go of touring out of state without dealing at least with the couple's circle. I'm not even sure she's in a position to have a full-time career as a belly-dancer.

If she can cut the couple and their associates completely and thrive career-wise I'd be more inclined to say, 'take the money'.

What's the basis for your thinking that I'm shaming her with my personal morals?
@60: Firstly, we obviously disagree greatly on opinion but i’d like to thank for the polite disagreement.

I was referring to what you come back to in-

“They think she's too poor / too young / too early in her career to have morals.”

It comes close to victim-blamey to assign “morals” to not taking money from douchenozzles (as she believes them to be) versus using money available for actual services rendered (assuming they were making up for the lack of parties that showed up.)

The “have morals” thing is a bit pretentious and classist on its own, that anyone who heads into their craft is gifted with financial security, stability, health care... such assumptions and imposition of the “dignified starving artist” trope as morality to live up to.

It seems a little tone-deaf and appealing to some ideal at the expense of empathy for how she actually lives and makes it more difficult to outright screen out less professional persons like this in the future.

Anyway, I think that’s probably the extent of how much is productive to discuss :D
“If she can cut the couple and their associates completely and thrive career-wise I'd be more inclined to say, 'take the money'.”

And I suppose we’re not arguing too much with this statement, it’s not enough to vault her career forward but it’s a step forward!
I think it would be principled not to take the money 'if she feels compromised' but also principled, all things considered, to take it and use it to further her career (or for any non-vicious purpose). My sense is that our disagreement is not over the ethics of taking money for services you rendered unconsciously but over what is the most practicable course for the LW in terms of having a viable and autonomous belly-dancing career.

Thanks for the polite disagreement and for letting me have the last word 😉
@63: Hee, of course!

On a related-but-not-the-same tangent I read a simple and to the point post making the rounds for how models/creatives can protect themselves from people who make them feel uncomfortable-…
Gifts are not an obligation - if they create a social debt, they're not actually gifts, they're attempts at passive-aggressive coercion. On the plus side, even in the latter case, you don't have to buy in to the coercion. Take the money and run: if they're not trying to manipulate you, there's no problem, and if they are, they deserve to have their creepy attempt fail in an expensive way.
@Harriet: What the flying fuck? May your bizarre notions of reciprocal obligation for unprompted, unwanted action die a thousand deaths. Fuck that socially coercive bullshit.

Please wait...

and remember to be decent to everyone
all of the time.

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