Saturday, July 10, 2010

Jeff and belly dance - Thursday, October 16, 2008

(aka The Story of How I Started Dancing with All the Details)

Pretty much everyone who knows me knows that my husband goes almost everywhere that I go to for belly dance events. People also know his reputation for having a good eye and being a good critique of belly dance. Most people appreciate... although it sometimes makes ME cringe. I'd love to be perfect even though I know that there is no such thing. His feedback does help me become a better dancer.

On Saturday, the tribe sisters were talking about their husbands and Chy was saying that Tony was not like Jeff: once Tony has seen a belly dance show, he's good for a while. Jeff then said that he genuinely likes to go see belly dancing and that he loves it on his own (i.e., not just because of me).

That reminded me that there are some important details that I typically don't divulge when I tell the story of how I started belly dancing. I'm not lying... Everything is true... It's just that there is a discussion missing...

I did see belly dancing for the first time in the SCA, at an event in Quebec. The dancing was passable. I still remember the dancing, although, of course, it's now a little fuzzy as it's been like over 15 years ago. My boyfriend at the time, though, was intrigued. His parents went to Africa to help countries in need so he had come in contact with lots of Mediterranean cultures and knew a little about belly dancing.

Given that I was a foolish girl of 18 years, I thought that belly dancing was something that you do when you're like 30-40+ and you want to do a surprise for your husband. Well, when my boyfriend asked the two dancers why they started dancing, their answer reinforced my prejudice: one wanted to learn belly dance as a birthday gift for her husband's 40th birthday and the other had followed along. So... yeah... although, they might have said something like 'once they tried it, they loved it and never stopped', I stopped following the conversation.

Fast forward to 4 years later. I meet this VERY nice and VERY fine man who ends up becoming my boyfriend and has been ever since. ;) (to make a long story short) He tells me that I HAVE to see belly dancers while at a certain camping event or, at the worst, I HAVE to see them at Pennsic. I told Jeff that I had seen belly dancers and had not been very impressed. I told him my story. He said that I had not seen the Pennsic belly dancers. They are impressive. They are skilled. They are amazing. He proceeded to tell me all about Red, a certain red-headed dancer. And for those who know about my disbelief about a certain dancer being able to make tassels on a bra rotate independently, that would be THE dancer in question. (yes, that's one conversation that I typically leave off in the story of how I started dancing)

We end up going to an event in Maine, which is nicknamed S&M because it's a fight between two baronies whose names start with an S and an M... it's really a Pennsic practice. Anyway. As dusk falls, the drums start. We are by a campfire. Relatively recently, I heard the drums in the SCA being called "The Witches' Call" because, out of nowhere, all these beautiful women come forth, moving slowly, snakily. Sure enough, they appeared in the campfire hue.

For anyone who has ever heard live drumming, especially good SCA live drumming, it's a visceral reaction. You feel it in your belly. Your hips start moving on their own. Mine did too. I was mesmerized by the ladies and, without realizing it, I was mimicking their moves. One dancer noticed and came in front of me. She never spoke to me but she held my gaze and she told me with her eyes that I was to follow her. Magically (more or less), my companions had all taken a step back (or I may have taken a step forward but I don't recall doing that) so I really felt like there was just her, me, the campfire light, and drum beats. I followed her moves. She zhaghareeted. The drums stopped. It was a magical moment that I will never forget.

After that experience, Jeff asked me how I liked belly dancing. I had to concede that he was right about SCA belly dancers.

Then we went to Pennsic. No, I did not take any belly dancing classes. That year, I just vegged out. But I did see a number of parties where there were belly dancers. When I talk about the gorgeous, muscular male belly dancer with ebony skin and sweat dripping off his six-pack as he was doing a belly roll, that's that Pennsic year.

Anyway, we get back from Pennsic and Jeff gave me the nudge to look into the local activities for belly dance classes.

And that's really how I started dancing. ;)

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