January 08, 2007

Shimmy

We came in from the winter cold, slowly shedding our outer layer of clothes, tossing down coats, purses, sweatshirts, and boots. The big room filled quickly with chatter and laughter as we found our spots and stretched our muscles. After a hiatus for the holidays, it felt good to return tonight to belly dancing class.

At the beginning of the class, we worked each muscle, moving through the drills one body part at a time, much like a good masseuse might slowly work her way from head to toe, releasing knots of tension, creating a melting sort of warmth that spreads gradually to your whole self. We stretched our necks, rolling our heads, then worked on shoulder pops, then chest slides, then body undulations. We practiced snake arms, leading with the elbows, rolling the shoulders, letting each finger make its own movement as our arms slithered through the air. Learning to belly dance means learning to isolate one muscle while holding the others still; it means an intimacy with your body, an awareness, an awakening.

A couple of women were new to the class, and I could tell they felt self-conscious as we moved our hips in a figure eight pattern, as we began to shimmy. But somehow the rhythmic music and sparkly energy from the other women soothed their nervousness. As we practiced the up-hip, rotating as we did so, all twenty women – different ages, different sizes – turned at the same time, all moving their hips to the same beat, as if we were one entity.

By the end of the hour, my muscles felt loosed and relaxed, my hips and shoulders following the drum beat without thought. The air seemed to get thicker as we danced, and we were all moving as if underwater, slowly pushing that thickness up and down, our knees always bent so that we could weave our hips, our pelvises, our bellies. Even my toes and fingers felt warm and tingly, my whole self awake, as class came to an end, and I began putting layers of clothing back on for the ride home.

9 comments:

Lorianne said...

Yes, that's it exactly. I take belly-dancing classes, too, and your experience mirrors mine.

Mona Buonanotte said...

This is on my to-do list. Seriously, this time. Even with the jiggly tummy.

I MEAN it.

Anonymous said...

Sounds terrific.

Anonymous said...

Man, you are so making me miss hula.

PPB said...

to be honest, it sounds like my worst nightmare....but I'm glad for how much you like it. I'll stay in the reading/watching section!

Autumn said...

I suddenly have the urge to find a bellydancing class!! That sounds awesome.

YourFireAnt said...

Yahoo! Is this the class my Hot Yoga Teacher told you about at the reading?

FA

Anonymous said...

Very cool. I am about to start an aerobics class for a couple months, but after that I want to try some new things...maybe yoga/pilates and if I can get up enough courage, belly dancing! You make it sound very enjoyable!! You have a magical way with words, jo(e)!

Sarah Sometimes said...

Tonight, I had my return to dance/exercise/yoga class after three weeks, too. It was very replenishing...