This weekend my daughter is going to a belly dancing party. Yes, this is Boulder County where hosting belly dancing for kids is perfectly normal, and they will eat gluten-free, egg-free, sugar-free cupcakes and drink bubbly all natural fruit juice instead of pop. I’m not complaining, although I am a big fan of sugary cupcakes and I don’t care what you say, gluten-free beer is not yummy. At. All. Fortunately, they are little, so they’ll be sticking to juice. And not Michael Jackson’s “Jesus Juice.” Anyway, all this belly dancing got me thinking about my own belly dancing past. It was short and sweet, and I made not a penny.
Because I grew up in a different country, where gas was 25 cents a gallon and was eagerly pumped for you while you remained in your air-conditioned luxury, I had some interesting vacations. One of them was to Egypt. Among other tourist adventures, we took a cruise on the Nile. My grandparents came along on this trip. The only country they had ever traveled to outside of the U.S. was Mexico. This seemed like a good idea at the time.
After spending time traveling around ruins and pyramids, we eventually boarded a cruise ship. In my likely skewed mind this was actually more like a Louisiana river boat than a Carnival cruise ship (which I now see as a huge blessing!). There were little rooms and a friendly crew. At night, the dining room turned into a dance club. A tiny dance club, more like the common area in a dorm with a black light and some good tunes. I was twelve. To me, it was studio 54. People were having fun, partying Nile-style. We met a man who was chronically drunk and spoke incessantly of each cigarette he smoked as being yet another nail in his coffin. He smoked the entire cruise. I’m guessing he has enough nails by now. While talking with this man, our waiter stopped by to inform us of the next evenings festivities. A costume party. But we had no costumes! Not to worry, the crew had a bunch of them.
I dug through a box of costumes in one of the crew members cabins. Sparkles, sequence, disco, ooooh. What’s this white shiny fabric? Ah. A belly dancing costume. Fun! I was encouraged by my new cruise-crew friends, who I liked talking to much more than the chain-smoking coffin builder.
We went to dinner in full regalia. To be honest, I was so self-absorbed and into my costume, I can’t remember what anyone else was wearing. This is the preteen mind. No one else matters. In case you have kids, if it is not affecting how they look, sound or smell, it does not matter!
After dinner the D.J. starting making his 80’s magic. Not much of a challenge in the 80’s, really, I mean the music magic was just happening all around us. (snort). They played some cheesy pop music, and people danced. It was not the dance number from the titanic by any means, but equal in beauty to this twelve-year-old. The disco ball spun, reflecting rainbow light off of pirate patches and flapper dresses. And then the D.J. suggested a special belly dance solo. There was a wee spot light, like the one from a grade school production of Peter Pan, that fell on me. My white belly dancing costume shimmered like a pearl. I was terribly embarrassed, but somehow the D.J. knew just what to spin for me. Some Michael Jackson. I worshipped and planned on marrying Michael at this point in my life. He was still at peace with his pigmentation. He hadn’t changed color and personality yet. Neverland ranch was still only a fantasy. I stood up in that moment of inspiration and click-clacked my brass finger cymbals together, finding the rhythm to Beat It (not hard to do) and pretended to belly dance. I even did my version of a moon-walk. I channeled my inner Michael and mixed it Cocktail style with my memories of the Solid Gold dancers and did my thing. Go white girl, GO! A little blond belly dancer on the Nile. My grandparents beamed with pride (and perhaps a fare dose of confusion)!
My moves surprisingly never progressed me into the realm of a professional dancer of any kind. But all of the professional belly dancers who did make something of their lives could have learned some important knowledge from me that night. Let go of your sexy, sultry wiggling for a minute and think of Pre-Neverland Ranch Michael. Let him take over your ankles and knees and do some moon-walking. You might get someone to stop smoking and talking about coffins just long enough to laugh.
Laugh, while secretly envying your moves.