Shake Your Gut (323rd new thing).

July 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

I have a belly. In my family, we call the hereditarily disposed paunch the “Bending Belly” after my great grandmother (Annie Bending). I’ve had it all my life. You can see it protruding off my skinny frame as far back as 1987 (I was five). I used to hate it, but now I embrace this familial trait. I say all this because based solely on its name, belly dancing seemed like the perfect match for my Bending Belly. On Day Three Hundred Twenty-Three I discovered how wrong I was.

Shake it, Sister!

I headed to the nearby Nazeem Allayl belly dancing studio for a Shimmy Fit class. I arrived a few minutes early and purchased a twenty dollar waist scarf decorated with random shiny bits that jingled when I wiggled. I felt like I needed to embrace the whole belly dancing experience. At twenty bucks, it was the most inexpensive hip belt in the small shop.

Then I stood in the back of the tiny dance studio, by the lockers, and waited for class to begin. That wasn’t smart. The class filled quickly and once thirty-five plus women had found their places I was pushed onto the fringe of the group, in a corner, with an industrial strength oscillating fan at my back. At least I wouldn’t sweat.

The instructor took her position in front of the mirror, faced the class and introduced herself. “I am Marwa. M-A-R-W-A and I’m kinda of a big deal.” Good to know. She told us this was not a class to learn a routine in, but rather a “Simon-says” type follow along. And then she started to shake, and make faces that reminded me of a fourteen year old dancing alone in her bedroom to her favorite song. Batted eyelashes, pursed lips resembling a duck, and a sort of sneer/smirk combination expression. I remember making similar faces many years ago, but back then I was a dorky teenager.

The hour passed quickly enough, with a soundtrack mix of Bollywood and pop songs. As if I hadn’t had enough Black Eyed Peas the week before during spin class. I tried to follow along as well as I could, but without being able to see myself in the mirror, I can only imagine I looked like an epileptic white girl with spastic shakes and unnatural face contortions.

The girl next to me took pity on my moves and the confusion on my face as I was forced further and further towards the fan. She caught my eye with a sympathetic smile and asked if it was my first time. I answered in the affirmative and she informed me that it would be easier next time. As if there would be a next time.

Actually, I would consider taking an eight week class to learn the basics. Professional belly dancing is pretty awesome to watch. Perhaps with a few lessons under my belt I would actually have the guts to take a position in the front row of a “Shimmy Fit” workout. And then I could look at the new girl huddled in the corner with sympathetic eyes.

But I would never, ever, make a smirky duck face.


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