Shakin’ It Up

I like to try something new every now and then, so this year I decided to take “shaking it up” literally.  Yes, I signed up for belly-dancing classes.  I do not expect this to contribute in any way to building my self-esteem or maintaining what little dignity I possess.

I went to my first class this weekend.  I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty.  I’m not uncoordinated, but I’m incapable of translating verbal instructions into useful movement.  I know that.  I’ve known it for years.

I was the woman flapping around like a brain-damaged goose at the back of aerobics class in the 80s.  I’d barely have caught onto a move when they’d change.  Forget lagging one beat behind; I was a whole song behind.

I had the same problem in Jazzercise.  The instructor busted out a new move and the rest of the women nailed it in minutes.  I flailed around as if in the throes of an epileptic seizure for the rest of the class.

It’s no coincidence that I haven’t attempted anything of the sort for decades.

Part of my problem is scale.  In the studio mirror, I look as though I’ve been badly Photoshopped.  I’m in proportion by myself, but I’m scaled up 10% compared to all the other cute little women.  When my arms are extended, they span six feet.  This means I need a LOT more space than everybody else.  This is not viewed kindly by anyone standing next to me.  Particularly not if the choreography involves vigorous arm movements.

The other problem is that my body is conditioned to run, jump, kick, punch, and heft heavy objects as forcefully and efficiently as possible.  This does not translate well to activities requiring feminine grace.

But I knew all this up front.  My expectations were realistic.

I arrived at the studio early and bought a bright, jingly hip scarf.  It fit.  So far, so good.  (Yeah, I know it’s virtually impossible for a hip scarf to not  fit.  But like I said:  low expectations, yada, yada.)

The other students were half my size, but that was no surprise.  The instructor was (shockingly) almost as tall as me.  For a few moments, I had hope.  Then she moved.

Oh my God.

The woman was sheer grace.

She explained the dance posture.  Even standing still, she was graceful.

I tried to copy the position.  I looked like a linebacker with hemorrhoids:  ready for scrimmage, but poised gingerly on tiptoe.

The hip scarf didn’t help my look.  I have no hips to speak of, so where the other women’s scarves draped gracefully on their bodies, mine looked like a bandana tied to a telephone pole.

Then we started some simple choreography.

Well, the rest of the class did.  I galumphed around in the back row, seven beats behind.  I know it was seven beats because there was one merciful portion of the song where we shook our hips for eight beats, and I caught up on the very last one.  Then the dance went on, and I was lost again.

On the up side, I discovered my core strength and flexibility are good.  Maybe by the end of the course, I’ll even be able to do something remotely attractive with them.

Or maybe not.

But, hey, I’m shakin’ it up.  And if nothing else, it’ll be a character-building exercise.

I’ll keep you posted…

37 thoughts on “Shakin’ It Up

  1. Pingback: Belly-Dance: That’ll Teach Me | Diane Henders

  2. That sounds like so much fun. I’d bet that, whether you admit it or not, you would be the “consummate” dancer. (the adjective definition, not the verb, LOL) When I was young I tried a stint at belly dancing and I did fairly well. Of course back then it was considered such a shameful way for a “proper” young lady to behave. Bwahahahaha! That term in the same sentence with my name is a total contradiction. The term “marches to a different drummer” completely applied to me and I’ve never regretted it. Now I live vicariously through your books Ms. Diane and like so many other readers I await the next installment! 🙂 Keep shakin’!


    • LOL! I’m glad you weren’t a “proper” young lady – that sounds far too boring! And thanks for the encouragement – I’d love to believe I might actually get good at it, but for now I’m just having fun. Fortunately I enjoy laughing at myself… 😉


  3. Gad, what a great story! Sounds like us with ballroom dancing. We’ve come far, though, in the last year. Relax. If we can do that, you can do this. 🙂

    By the by, how’s the piano thing coming along?


    • Thanks, I’ll keep at it – I’m having fun! I’ve hardly gone near the piano in the last month because of all the Christmas running around, followed by some minor family health issues that took me away from home for a week or so. Everything turned out fine, though, and now I’m making up for lost time on Book 8 – wrote nearly 10,000 words yesterday, and I’m looking forward to another good day today. So maybe I’ll get back to the piano next week…


  4. As always, anything you write it fun. Reminds me of my first class a million years ago. All we did the first class was shimmy, the second class shimmy and tucksemes. ( I know that isn’t any were close but it is as phonetic as I could do.) Those were cool for a 25 year old 110 pound me. By the third class were were supposed to move while we shimmied. Ain’t no way. I can do the hands like crazy but the feet do NOT move. Now at 200 pounds, I would be afraid to try it. We live in a trailer house; need I say more? Have fun with your newest adventure! I have a set of slightly used zyls to go with your neat scarf.


  5. You have all the moves, Diane, in your arms and legs, and very soon, you’ll have the moves in the right order and in the right places! I had a similar problem when I used to go weight-training. No – hang on… I never got my moves right back then… scrap that.
    You’re doing great, Diane! I’m sure you’re better than you think! 🙂


  6. We had a professional belly dancer give a demo in a stage movement class I took back in college. She could flip a quarter over five times in a row on her belly, making it travel from her navel down to her…um, yeah…using only her belly muscles. Talk about control!

    Hey, I’ll bet if you make a vid of yourself doing that, it’d go viral. 😉


  7. Hey Diane! You go girl! My ethnic background has belly dancing in it; both grandma (in her day, of course!) and mom (in her day, too!) were excellent at it. Me? I was into bodybuilding and ballet (what a combination, huh?) The bodybuilding came later, but the ballet helped to keep me flexible (could do a split until I was 50 – then got my hip replaced!) and all the stretching was excellent too, I’m glad I remembered how to do it. Enjoy the new experience! So what if you’re a few beats behind…….at least you’re trying! The best is being able to laugh at yourself and share the giggles. To me trying something new is all about the fun and expanding your horizons! Have fun!! Keep us posted!!


    • Wow, bodybuilding and ballet is a great combination! I think they would compliment each other perfectly. And I’m super-impressed with your splits. I stretch and stretch, but I’m still several inches off the ground and going nowhere fast.

      Thanks for the encouragement! I am having fun, and I’m sure I’ll get better. I don’t really have a choice – I can’t get worse. 😉


  8. “Forget lagging one beat behind; I was a whole song behind.”—Hahaha, that would be me, too.

    I’m so impressed you’re giving this a go! I would be far too inhibited to try it anywhere but in the privacy of my own home. And even then, I’d have to make sure there were no mirrors around. Good for you! I can’t wait to see the vlog you’ll certainly put together for us, right? 😉


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