The joy of Bellydancing

Last night I made it back to Bellydancing class. I had to go after skipping a couple of them because I got some special duds that took time, trouble and money to get: a stretchy brown hip scarf with long golden beads, a black lycra top with stretchy lace 3/4 sleeves to cover my squishy upper arms, my new python skin patterned super bra from Sears.  I had to go also to wear my frosted lime coin belt and purple harem pants. These exotic, specially made garment creatures need exercise, they need to breathe, couldn’t just leave them languishing about the house!

I have come to love the bellydancing I’ve been doing because it’s really special in a very specific way: Woman flesh is allowed. In fact, it’s MORE than OK because shaking  and moving it is the whole idea; it’s a point of honor to rise up in your Bulging Female Rotundity and be all you can be. Cleavages  are quivered, they are shimmied and celebrated, it’s one big happy   fleshfest and it takes skill. Belly Rolls, “Toxeems”(hip  motions) and snaky, slinky torso and arm  movements are the thing; there is no getting around the fact that blubberhood is up front and center.  Bumps and lumps are covered yes, but not hidden.

Not only does one come to move and be seen, one MUST become accustomed to having decoration and  body adornments of many kinds on or hanging from one’s body:  head wraps, rings, necklaces, earrings, make up, scarves, layers, skirts and hair doodads.  It’s like being a dancing Christmas tree with a lot of different decorations dangling from your branches.  The long and swinging skirts create a wave like feeling of gliding, of sweeping along like a ship. There’s nothing like it.  It is totally the Come-as-you-really-are woman, eternal gypsy caravan thing. And middle eastern music is rockin, mysterious, haunting, jubilant and doleful all at once.

I must warn  any readers who may feel the urge to run to their nearest local bellydancing school to sign up to not be too quick to jump into bellydancing. The class I go to is unique because it is led by a woman who spent a good deal of  her life in the martial arts of judo and became a second degree black belt at a young age. She’s been  bellydancing and learning from different teachers for a long time,  and her class is deliberately gentle and geared to a slow, relaxed, tribal pace. She teaches  and moves carefully, so those of us in the fifty something rage will not jerk, jolt and yank  ourselves  into  injury.  Women  who are younger, fit and prefer a more mechanical and athletic  bellydancing experience could find it boring and too slow.  We who aren’t don’t and not being injured is a plus.

There is another unique feature of this teacher’s style, which is that she stresses the fact in each class that bellydancing was originally invented by women and for women, not for it’s Hollywood version of display.  When we dance, we dance as tribe, women tribe. An acquired taste to be sure, but it’s surprisingly flavorful once it grows on you.


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About Shirley

I started this blog to expand and explore my rhythm horizons as a hand drummer. That exploration includes touching on the rest of my life and inner world as authentically and truthfully as possible.
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