Saturday, March 04, 2006

Shake, Shake, Shake...

Every person I tell I've signed up for belly dancing lessons has the same reaction:

"Belly dancing?" (Stifling a giggle.) "Really?"

Yes, really. What's so funny?

It's probably the mental image of me, dressed like Barbara Eden from "I Dream of Jeannie," gyrating and undulating and making all sorts of movements that would just not be proper for a nice, quiet, bookish, middle-class, repressed, thirty(mumble) white girl. Apparently I come across as a bit prim. Ha! That's because no one heard me swear like a sailor this past December when I stepped barefoot on a piece of broken china in my kitchen and almost took off the back of my heel. I even shocked the cat, and she's pretty unflappable. But I digress.

These classes are offered by a place downtown that's not quite a dance studio and not quite a gym. They teach yoga, belly dance, African dance, pilates, (which I have a hard time remembering is pronounced pill-ah-tays. I always want to say "pilots.") and something called Jin Shin Jyutsu, which I've never heard of before. I've been thinking about joining a class for a long time, but my timing's been bad. Usually I decide to pursue it when the current session is half over, and they don't put out the next schedule until the current sessions are through, so then I'm out of luck. Unless I remember to check the schedule again later, which doesn't happen often.

Also, I do drag my feet quite a bit before I take on something new. I have a tendency to talk about doing something for a while, then to stop talking about it for a while, and then to shock everyone by plunging headfirst into whatever-it-is long after it's been assumed that I gave up the idea. Example? You're looking at it. It took about 6 months of "Could I? Will I? Oh, I dunno..." before I finally decided to try blogging. Two posts and one positive comment later, and I was hooked.

I need exercise. I used to walk at lunch time with a friend who worked in my building, but that fell apart last summer. She had foot problems. Then when those cleared up, she decided she'd rather spend her lunchtime surfing the 'net and catching up on her email, so she begged off. Having someone depending on me to show up at a certain time really was important. I just can't seem to get out of my chair to go walk by myself most days. I also joined a gym a while ago, though I haven't been there in a few months. I like working with the weights, I like that I'm only competing with myself and how well I did the last time I lifted. There are no permanent lockers in the place, though, so I had to schlep my workout clothes with me to the office, and then down to the gym, then back on the bus home, and it got tiresome. The membership contract runs out this month, and I don't think I'll be renewing.

I like to dance. Most of my gym classes in college were dance classes, and that's not just because I gravitate towards things that aren't very competitive. I have no one to dance with, though, so I need a style of dancing that doesn't require a partner, and doesn't expect you to have been dancing nonstop since your first ballet class at the age of three.

Belly dancing seems like it would be good exercise. Kind of like an aerobics class, without the annoying, chirpy leader shouting, "And four more! Three more! Two more! One more! Aaaaand one more set!" It's supposed to be really good for toning the abdominal muscles, and I sure could use that. I like the music from the Middle East. I find myself moving along to the rhythms of it when I hear it somewhere, so dancing to it should be fun. It's an exotic enough style of dance that no one expects you to have much experience when you start in a class, so I have that going for me. And there's the social component (getting out and meeting people with whom I don't work), which I'm hoping will be a good experience.

When I went to the studio last week I saw that the current session would be over on the 26th, but there was no information about the next start date. There was, however, a flyer listing the instructor's email address, so I wrote that down and contacted her about when the next session started (Sunday the 12th of March), to see if I could pre-register (yes, and I did), and ask some questions, the main one being: How am I to dress for this? Here's the answer I got:

"Dancers should wear comfortable, close-fitting clothing that permits viewing of body movements. It is also recommended that dancers wear something around the hips to make hip movements visible. A shawl, short beach sarong, coin scarf, or fringed scarf works well for this purpose. Dancers may take the class in bare feet, socks, or ballet slippers."

Comfortable and close-fitting clothes? Isn't that a contradiction in terms? I don't own any of the things she mentioned to put around my hips, either. What exactly is a coin scarf, anyway? I guess V has to do some shopping before next Sunday.

I'm wondering if there are going to be a bunch of women in there like me (see description above), or whether the room is going to be full of what my friend the Chief Loon calls "The Garlic and Tofu Set"--new-age women, I mean: vegetarian, wearing clothes made of hemp, practicing alternative medicine and really into crystals, things like that. Not that I'm against any of that. I find it all very interesting, on an intellectual level, and if I wasn't so lazy I might try some of it. Thing is, if you get enough new-age women in a room chances are at least one of them will be wearing patchouli oil, and that sometimes triggers my asthma. I should make sure I have my inhaler with me just in case.

I'll let you know how it turns out.


G said...

Coin scarf? Where exactly will you be shopping for a coin scarf?

Will we be getting pictures?

G said...

OK - should've Googled first - I withdraw that remark about the coin scarf., wouldn't you know?

--V said...

Well, those are awfully pretty, but I don't think I'm going to be buying anything like that until I decide how serious I am about this. I was thinking I'd go to a place in town where they sell all sorts of nifty Indian clothes and other imports (armed with the trusty inhaler, because the store always smells of incense) and buy myself a patterned cotton scarf.

Pictures? Of me dancing? Doubtful. Of the scarf? Probably.