Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Belly dancer

Source: via Christal Moore on Pinterest

Long before the English-speaking world had even heard of Shakira, I writhed my way through a six-week belly dance class.

I loved every moment of it.

I was in my final year at university, and had seen an advertisement for the classes - taught by one of the Women's Studies teachers - pinned to a noticeboard. As I was already in love with the rhythmic sounds of Middle Eastern and Indian music, I signed up the first chance I had.

The classes were held in the early evening, mid-week. The venue was a large room in a ninety-year-old building on campus. The ceilings were high with exposed wooden beams, and the leadlight windows were set in warm sandstone. A large Oriental rug on the floor completed the historical ambience. Each week, I felt in awe as soon as I walked in - but not intimidated.

The students were a mixed bag of body types. Some possessed generously soft rolls, and others were androgynous and angular. Back in those days, with my short hair, pierced nose and widening hips, I was somewhere in the middle.

However, it didn't matter what we looked like. All that mattered was we moved to the rhythm. We swayed and we undulated. We shimmied and shook. We felt free.

Six weeks flew, and the final class took place at the end of a hot, airless Sydney day. When the thunder began to roll over the building, promising relief from the heat, the music's volume needed increasing. As the fat rain drops blew in through the open window, relief was found. As a lover of storms, that night is firmly etched in my mind.

Those classes were probably one of the first true experiences of being with 'the sisterhood' that I've had. It was also great to gain insight into the history and customs of women in Egypt (the style of belly dance we were taught).

Once the classes were finished, I told myself I'd perform for fun. Turns out, that 'fun' only ever seemed to happen when large amounts of alcohol had been imbibed at parties. Although I don't remember, I've been assured that I have put on a show here and there.

I do know that to this day, the moves I learnt in that class have quietly infiltrated my own way of dancing. A little jiggle here, a little hip sway there. A twirl of the wrist, held high in the air - I'm told that became a trademark move of mine during my days of clubbing in London... also a long time ago.

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Last week, I thought I'd try out a Bollywood Fusion class at my local gym. The memories of my belly dancing days resurfaced, and I grew excited at the thought of learning some new dance moves. When I arrived, I was more than disappointed to discover the class had been cancelled, and replaced by a Zumba class. Oh well, I thought, might as well give that a try.

Yeah, well... turns out Zumba is a lot harder to fall into a natural flow with the music. I was the least coordinated woman in that room, pretty sure about that. The stout Armenian grandmothers next to me seemed to keep up more easily than I did. However, I managed to have a laugh and reminded myself that I was burning a shite load of calories... so all was good. I may even take that class again one day - who knows?

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This post was inspired by MamaKat's writing prompt:
Tell the story of learning a new talent or hobby that you only pursued briefly.

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Seeing as we're on the topic of bellies, my friend Angie - The Little Mumma - has recently had the most amazing pregnancy photos taken. They're not your average belly shots, people. They are slickly surreal, and she rocked the artiness of it, 150%. Little Mumma? Hot Mumma. If you want a peek, you can see the photos here


  1. Did I know this?? I can't remember. But I love it.

    Your imagery here was gorgeous. I was so with you on that final night in class. Love that it concluded with a storm.

    Zumba is ridiculous - but only if you are afraid to laugh at yourself which in the first class I took, I was. I must go back. It's hilarious and fun!

    And thanks for the link, dollface. Let's take my tits to the world, dammit! xxx

  2. I liked the square dancing class I took in college--it was a blast! Haven't done it since though, sad to say. It was good exercise too!

    Stopping by from writer's workshop:

  3. I, too, have succumbed to a Zumba class. It took me out of my comfort zone when I had to place a hand on the floor and shake my butt in the air. And there were grandmothers who made it look easy.

  4. I would belly dance daily if it ensured I've have a belly like that one! Okay, I wouldn't, but it sounds like you really enjoyed it! Hopefully you'll get a chance to update your moves soon!

  5. Belly dancing sounds like so much fun, but I think I'd be lousy at it. I think I agree with Kara, maybe a little dancing would help my belly!

  6. This is so cool - you write about it really well. I have heard about belly dancing and the very positive effect it has for many women regarding their self image. That and it just sounds like a whole lot of fun.

  7. I would love to learn to belly dance! I have a step sister who is super good at it and I agree...those extra lost calories would make it all worth it!

  8. I love Zumba, LOVE Zumba! Yet, I have absolutely not one dancing bone in my body. I stick to the back of the class and pray that we don't spin around so that I'm in the front of the class.