On dancing: I have been to three belly dance classes here. This makes me a regular (there seems to be a fairly large cast who cycles through but not a lot of full-time regulars). I am enjoying the company and the classes. We do about an hour of yoga and evil abdominal exercises (some of them are hard but mostly they are ridiculous: i.e. put your legs up in the air in a “V,” then lift your butt off the mat twenty times). Then everyone changes into dance togs (skirts, cholis, hip belts) and we dance. In Virginia I am the fattest belly dancer. Here I am one of the thinnest ones and the most modest – feeling hopelessly overdressed is providing a good push to start wearing stuff that shows my belly in class.
They are working on zils, which is excellent practice for me. They are mostly practicing straight triplets (right, left, right, repeated endlessly). I think it’s the hardest rhythm and also boring, so played some 3-3-7 during the warm-up and soon Rowan had me playing a counterpoint to the rest of the class to demonstrate how well the rhythms mingle together. It was cool to realize I can play against other dancers without losing the beat (I am so musically untalented that it took me over a year of dance to realize that you can hear an eight count, so this stuff makes me gleeful). I also get a kick out of the fact that Rowan asked to borrow our mnemonic for that one: “Got to dance. Got to dance. Got a chicken in my pants.” (if you zil on the syllables it makes up a 3-3-7). She is now calling it “the chicken-pants rhythm,” which I love.
The nicest thing about being an itinerant belly dancer is that you can walk into a community just about anywhere. And belly dancers are, in my limited experience, fabulously nice. I get a real kick out of the women in this class, and love having the girl time to counter my days with the all-male F&G crew. They also have massive connections to the community so can answer all sorts of questions, like where to go for a haircut (this actually sparked quite a debate). Hanging around with them is sort of like instant-friends-just-add-drum-music, which is perfect for an introvert like me. It is looking like I will be able to perform with them at least once this summer too, which should be fun. There is no way that I am ready to demonstrate belly dancing as a soloist (even to friends and family), but I really do like performing with a group. It is sort of like donning an alternate personality for an hour, and I really like her.
Interestingly, I think I am becoming her (my bolder self) slowly. I no longer want to throw up at the idea of dancing in front of people and am making real changes in my life to do what I want (rather than what is expected). This spring was a turning point in this process of accepting myself. For example, I had spent years not cutting my hair, since it would make me “look fat.” Eventually my patience for that argument wore thin; fat is something you are or you aren’t. Whether or not I am fat was not the point, and changing my hair was not going to change my figure. When I realized that, I had Marcia chop off all my hair. And I love it.
Along those same lines, I (pretending to be bold) invited the world to my belly dance performance in April. I was originally self-conscious about my bare belly but self-aware enough to realize that the tank tops and jeans I wear do not conceal much beyond actual flesh. No one who has seen me fully dressed would be surprised to realize that I am curvy and a little soft in the mid-section. So, I invited my social group (only one of them came, but that is a separate issue, labeled “Where are my people?”).
At several points this spring, I have found myself thinking, ‘Geez! If only I could have been bold enough to do this (show my belly to other humans, rock out at the wedding with the little people, wear stupid hats in public, tell people “No” or “Let me think about it”) when I was sixteen, everything would have been easier.’ I am just glad I am figuring it now, rather than regretting it when I am 84. I must say, I knew that twenty-four was going to be a good year, and in that sense it has been. I am getting back to who I really am inside.