I taught a belly dance class last night to about 35 women in Manchester. It was an auction item for the kid’s school. This is after doing the pre-k cast party for Winnie the Pooh on Thursday, then the Harry Potter extravaganza 6th birthday part on saturday morning. It’s just one party after another around here–just as life should be–at least my life. I LOVE a party!
The event was hosted by Chris–an italian spitfire living in fancy splendor in the woods near school.
We had gone up to Chris’ house to decorate last week, and as I walked around, I got more and more grandiose ideas about what we needed for the event: giant 6-foot tall peacock fans and people to fan us as we walked in; a smoke machine; pillows of rose petals at the entrance; candles and incense; etc. I had even daydreamed about having tiny burlesque dancers in the champagne glasses, dancing and swishing in the champagne, with tiny marabou slippers in the air. Of course this was impossible–where would we find tiny people? They’d have to be smaller than my pinky. But it sounded like a good idea, at least in my head. Once I said it aloud it kind of lost its magic–the other mothers just stared at me for a minute before they continued their previous conversation. Chris also has these candlesticks with little colorful birds on them. I thought the birds could use tiny fez caps on their heads. We couldn’t find tiny fez hats, so I made them into carmen miranda birds by placing gorgeous purple orchids on each of their heads. I also put an orchid going up every stair.We couldn’t find giant fans, but we did have a little peacock fan and, as luck would have it, Chris has a smoke machine! We hung saris, veils, cushions, fabric scraps, etc. all over Chris’ house. Chris hired the school chef, who also happens to be an incredible caterer of moroccan food, a bartender, and valet parkers. She also bought everyone a coin hip scarf and hung them in her parlor for everyone to choose as they walked into her foyer (which was also scattered with rose petals!). Dreamy!
I went home to change into my dance clothes and a genie ponytail since my hair was not cooperating on its own. I threw on my little black furry chubby and headed back up to Manchester. George has never believed me that a short thick furry coat that sits above the waist is called a “chubby” since it’s street slang for something else (the male anatomy when standing at attention.) But I didn’t make it up! And my chubby comes in very handy when I’m chilly. But I was driving by the ocean, feeling great, when all of a sudden, I got very very hot–almost prickly hot–where I had to tear off my coat immediately. A sign of pending menopause?! I hope not! I’m only 43 for gods sake! Too young for hot flashes! And yet…that’s what it felt like! Could it be true? I hope not! I do know some of my roots are growing in gray (which I dye immediately!! DO not go gently into the good night!!). My older sister was kind enough the other day to say “Wait til your pubes start coming in gray!” Wait! What??!!! What are you talking about!!?? I hadn’t even thought of that!! Really!!? My pubes are going to turn gray!!?? Is this true?? I guess I knew that was a possibility, but thought it was something that happened at 80. I do still wish my pubic hair was pink cotton candy (but not sticky). So I’m going to stick with that idea for now. But back to the party…
The women arrived, ready to party! I didn’t know most of them since we recently moved from New Orleans, but all of them are mothers at the school–and they were fabulous! They jumped into belly dance with both feet! Not one of them stood on the sidelines, too embarrassed or shy or afraid of making a fool of themselves. They all swayed and shimmied and laughed — even if they felt awkward. They danced with gusto! Every one of them looked at me fondly while I taught, with a look of happy intoxication–and while yes, they were drinking, none of them were drunk. Well, maybe one of them was, (I surmised this as I watched her writhe on the floor, digging in her heels so she could raise her entire body off the floor in a writhing circle). We were just doing little hip circles, but I like to encourage lack of inhibitions so I said, “Go girl!” At the end of the class, they wanted to try balancing my sword on their heads. My sword sucks for balancing even though it was made for dancers. It’s extra heavy and clunked to the floor many times! But every single one of those women took a turn while the others cheered!
One of my favorite moments was when short, big-haired Cristie came up to me and said “I think I got it.” She put down her drink and proceeded to do the roger rabbit, or the cabbage patch, or a combination of the two.
I don’t get many chances to shine a light on my belly dance skills at this point in my life. It felt amazing to be back in my element, sharing the stories and transformative powers of the dance with women from every walk of life, but women who seemed like they needed to feel those things too–powerful, beautiful, sensual, capable, accomplished.
There is so much in our culture that tells me I am not enough–not thin enough, not rich enough, not beautiful enough–when I dance, all of that noise disappears. I stand barefoot and start to sway my hips, to undulate my arms in these movements that are so archetypal, and so natural to the female body. I stand before these women I don’t know, and we are connected. My power in my unique beauty, no matter how old and chunky I might be, is connected to their power. And the dancing celebrates our quirky physical beauty. So we are all beautiful together, just as we are.
And we are enough, just as we are. As Whitman said in One Hour to Madness and Joy, (which really might describe the hour before a belly dance class) “I am sufficient as I am.” This is a quote I come back to again and again in my life, remembering the power, in being enough right now, as I am.