Fitness or Madness?
It all started innocently enough. I needed to get in better shape, and I have never really been
interested in a structured workout program. I don’t run, I don’t swim, I don’t “aerobicize” or do
Pilates, and, let’s face it, weightlifting is hazardous to your fingernails! Naturally, I decided to sign
up for a belly dance class.
I know what you are saying . . . “Isn’t belly dance like stripping, only without the pole?” Although
this is a common misconception, it isn’t at all like that. Belly dance is, apparently, the latest fitness
craze. Classes are taught in sports clubs and dance studios all over the country. Middle Eastern
dance, as it is more appropriately called, has become more and more popular in the United States,
and when done correctly, is an elegant and beautiful dance.
Of course, my first few attempts were far from elegant and beautiful! It takes months of practice
(for hours at a time) for that! I signed up for two classes a week, to give myself more studio time
and to hasten my transition.
“Oh, honey, it’s only for exercise”, I’d tell my husband as I ran out the door with my trusty water
bottle and an old scarf in hand. Our teacher had told us to always have water in class to keep us
from dehydrating, and she had instructed us to bring something to tie around our hips. It was
supposed to make us more aware of the placement of our bodies, and of our movements.
Of course, the instructor had on a coin belt. A very beautiful and very noisy, coin belt. Those of us
in the class were mesmerized. We really liked the sound the coins made. I wanted to make noise,
too! After purchasing a coin belt, I felt more Egyptian, more coordinated, more elegant, more . . .
noisy. Listening to the sound of the coins made me more aware of the movements and of the
music. I wanted more.
So, I started shopping. There are not many mainstream stores in our area carrying bellydance
items: jingly bras, jingly belts, jingly scarves, harem pants - these were only the first of the items I
purchased. I scoured the internet (especially eBay®) for belly dance earrings, necklaces, jingly
anklets, and bracelets. “It makes me feel more a part of the dance”, I’d say to my husband, on the
rare occasion he mustered up the nerve to ask. I ordered Moroccan music, Turkish music, Arabic
music, Indian music, and more. I ordered instructional DVDs, and I learned to dance with a plate
of lighted candles on my head! And, oh, the sparkly costumes! Doesn’t every belly dancer need a
couple of those?
It had become an obsession. I had my packages sent to work so they would not be sitting on the
front porch in the weather (OK, I had them sent to work so my husband would not see the
packages sitting on the front porch. It is so much easier to say, “What, that old chiffon skirt with
seed beading? I’ve had that forever!” and “Darling, I know I showed you that jingly bra!”). The
Security Officers in the courthouse where I am employed regularly called from the screening area.
“Can you come down here and verify a package? The mailman is trying to bring it in. It has
strange writing on it, and when we sent it through the x-ray machine, it looks like has a lot of
wires. Could it be a bomb? Are you expecting something from Cairo, Egypt?”
I even set up an area in our basement for dancing. Those mirrors I replaced in the master bath
were perfect to line the walls and make it seem like a real dance studio! And my husband really
didn’t need a poker table, anyway!
My bid for fitness has been successful; I have lost 9 pounds, and managed to keep it off. I’ll keep
working to try to lose more, and to stay in better shape. Ultimately, my husband put his foot
down about the shopping, telling me that I had to stop the madness. How many hip scarves and
veils does one woman actually need? I could answer that question, but I have to run, I have a
bellydance class, and afterward, I might have to take a peek at those belly dance swords on eBay®!
|We thank and recognize our
partners for their contribution
to the success of Layali Layla
Middle Eastern Dance Co.