31 before 31: #1--Take a Belly Dancing Class

Not me.I have always been drawn to dances that seem to glorify the beauty of a woman herself, and don't necessarily require that a dancer have a six pack or be able to perform complex kick-ball-changes.  So when a Groupon popped into my inbox for a cheap-as-balls deal on some into belly dancing classes, I jumped at the opportunity.

(Well, I didn't actually jump, like, literally.  I just clicked a few buttons and they charged my credit card.  Whatever.)

The lovely Maya (who is soon to be a newbie blogger!  I hope you guys like hot chicks who totally nerd out on all things sci-fi) purchased the same Groupon, so she and I headed out on a Monday night to partake in what we dubbed "Bellies and Beer."  Basically, we'd spend an hour burning some calories, and then maybe spend another hour after that drinking them back.  Lovely idea all around.


I didn't quite expect to land with a very talented Palestinian instructor who seemed to remember the Crusades like it was yesterday.  I am pretty sure that her entire reason for opening a belly dance studio was so that she could pay back all the white-faced Anglo-Saxons for the atrocities our ancestors may or may not have inflicted on her ancestors in the name of Jesus.

(I wanted to explain that I was actually of Eastern European descent, but somehow, I don't think that would have helped.)

Anyway, this lady begins putting us through our paces.  I'm working really hard to keep up, but I've somehow neglected to remind myself that a) I'm terribly uncoordinated and b) I'm a white pastor's daughter who was taught that dancing was only to be for my husband, and then only to be performed in the privacy of our bedroom.  She tells us to "Shimmy!" and I try desperately to shimmy like this lady shimmies.  And then, she turns around, watches me convulsing like I've got a severe case of epilepsy, and she does the unthinkable...

...she laughs.  At me.  In front of everyone.

Fortunately for her, I was already laughing at myself, otherwise I might have taken offense to this gesture.  Instead we just sort of share a moment where we collectively roll our eyes at me and my sad, sad attempts to "body roll."  But sharing this moment was a poor choice on my part.  She got a little familiar, and began laughing at me regularly--or staring at me quizzically--so that by the second class (yes, we went back a SECOND time) it was like I was her own personal court jester. 

About halfway through the second class, she's commanding that we perform a lovely move she liked to call, "Boobs-belly-butt!"  (She might have learned from the week before that my, uh, "athletic" chest does not "hop" or "shimmy" or "shake" well.  But noooo...).  She's yelling and yelling, "Boobs-belly-butt!  Boobs-belly-butt!" and no one except for a select few suck ups who must have commiserated with her at some point that, "Oh yes, the Crusades WERE terrible.  Did I mention I have a great aunt who married a Turk?" is getting this move.

So she makes us all do the move as individuals and instructs the rest of the class to watch so that we can see "Who is doing it right and who is doing it wrong."


I'm about fifth in line, so I have a few minutes to practice.  "Boobs-belly-butt...boobs-belly-butt..." I mutter to myself as I try to get each body part to move separately from the other.  When it comes my turn, I think I maybe have the move down so when she says, "And go!  Boobs-belly-butt!  Boobs-belly-butt!" I do what I believe to be the right combination. And then she stops, tilts her head to the side and says...

"Are you pooping?  You look like you're pooping."

OH.  MY.  GOD.

At that point, I wanted to yell the safe word that Maya and I had coined before class ("dishwasher"), but decided to stick it out to the end, which was great since we switched over to using giant scarves that I took the opportunity to hide behind so no one could see that I wasn't actually shimmy-ing any more. 

Long story short, I'm glad I tried belly dancing (I can't have a list where I don't complete an item!), and I'm now very, very sorry that the bad, bad Western European Christians tried to wipe out the poor brown Muslims in the name of Jesus so many years ago, because let me tell you...they haven't forgotten.  No, they are systematically exacting their revenge by opening up belly dancing studios to lure you and the weight of the sins of your ancestors in.  And then they use the most powerful weapon of all in revenge:  straight-up mockery.  Fan-freaking-tastic.

Read about all my 31 before 31 adventures here!