The ancient art of oriental dance has a long and colourful history. It began with the many fertility cults of the ancient world, and in the temples of ancient India. The existence of various nomadic groups of professional entertainers, and groups specifically identified with Gypsies, provided for the cross-culturization and transmission of these dances. Although religion variations have always existed, the popularity of what is commonly know as "oriental dance" or "belly dance" continues in the modern middle east and through the world. The survival of this ancient dance despite culture and moral prejudices is a tribute to the appeal it has to the human spirit as the women (and men) who dance today do so for very practical reasons: because it is enjoyable, it is excellent exercise for muscle-toning, and an opportunity for social involvement. In other words, for fun, fitness and friendship.