I fell in love with bellydance the moment I set foot inside my very first class. I often find it hard to describe how much I love bellydance and what it is that keeps me so enamored. I made a list of my ten favorite things about bellydance in an attempt to express my love, passion, and desire for the dance. Enjoy!
1. It Feels So Good!
I love how good I feel after a session of bellydance. Whether it’s a class, a performance, or just practicing at home, the dance limbers me, energizes me and sparks my creativity.
2. The Costumes!!
I have done many styles of dance over the years but it wasn’t until I took bellydance and made my first costume that I was hooked on the one style. I love the glitz, the glam, and even the earthy tribal costuming. I love it all! I love that it’s a whole separate creative outlet that is married to the dance. I love shopping for that perfect piece of jewelry or fabric to complete a costume. I love finding the perfect bindi for an outfit! Every little detail can be thought out from head to toe – from hair garden to pantaloons.
3. The Camaraderie
The ladies I have met through bellydance have become lifelong friends. We share our secrets, we share our hidden pains, we encourage each other, we lift each other up when we have fallen. I’ve never practiced a dance form where the women care so much about each other. One of the funnest parts is that if you’re a bellydancer, when you meet a new bellydancer – in a new town or at an event or at the grocery store – you’re instant friends! I can spot a bellydancer a mile away… there’s something about the way we dress, the way we move, the way we hold ourselves – it’s present in every dancer.
4. The Weird Things My Body Can Do
When I first started bellydancing, I attributed it to patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time. I had zero muscle memory for the moves we were attempting and my body revolted in fits and starts. The day I learned how to walk and shimmy – I practiced every morning for months – I cheered and jumped into the air with joy! It was a feat OVER my body. My body kept saying “I don’t know how to do that” and I kept telling it “Here, let me show you” and finally I taught my body to do it. Everything was like that, from undulations to snake arms to shimmies. Maybe that’s why bellydancers have such a bond? It’s not something a body naturally does, we’ve worked hard to create that muscle memory!
5. The Glitter!!
Yes, if you know me, this probably should have been number one. I have always loved glitter but it wasn’t until I became a bellydancer that I had the chance to wear it – on my eyes, all over my body, in my hair, and everywhere! I truly think that if I put glitter in my teeth, not a single bellydancer would flinch. ha! In fact, there’s a newish trend that bellydancers do where they get a pretty rhinestone adhered to one or a few of their teeth so that when they smile, there is a little bling! I now use glitter in all of my life, unabashed by the stigma that it’s for little girls or strippers. Not true, I say! Glitter is for everyone and it makes the world a prettier place.
6. The Sheer Talent of My Fellow Dancers
I love that all bellydancers are considered bellydancers no matter their skill level. If you love dance and you practice dance, you’re a bellydancer. Even if you have to leave the dance for a bit of a hiatus to attend to life, you’re still a bellydancer in the interim. But it’s the ladies that are so incredibly natural talents that just blow me away. I love watching these ladies and can and have watched them perform for hours on end through an entire week! Every dancer brings their own creativity, their own sense of style in their movements, their own taste in music and how they move to it. Some are sinuous and slow, some are fast fast fast! Many mix it up between slow, medium and speedy. I love it all. I love seeing the theatrics of a performance, from the costume chosen, to the way they wear their hair, down to that one perfect hip drop right on the beat – everything makes me fall deeper in love with bellydance, every time!
I’m not much of a shopper in “real life”. I don’t love malls or going to buy clothes or home decor. But you drop me into a bellydance festival and I’m suddenly the biggest shopper out there. I love to peruse every booth and every item in each booth. Lovingly longing for all the pretty things I want. Purchasing the special few that I can afford at each festival. The colors, the scents, the sparkle – are a sort of sensory overload, like my mind on drugs. It’s overwhelming and beautiful and amazing!
I also loved vending. I used to create yoga pants and tanks with fun bellydance sayings on them (I’ve recently begun to do so again - you can see them by clicking here). I loved helping ladies find the perfect size pants or top and picking through their favorites to purchase the ones that they could afford. It gave me a bit of a thrill each time someone purchased an item!
9. The Women I Have Met
I mentioned camaraderie above but I have to have a separate spot for the women I have met through bellydance. You would not believe me but there are thousands and hundreds of those that I have stayed close with and have a love for. These women are people whom I care about very much and in turn care about me. We can pick up after a year of not seeing each other right where we left off. A bond is made that is rarely broken. I think about each and every one of them often and check in on them on social media to see how they are doing. We meet up whenever we are in the same area together and of course, we see each other at festivals!
A bellydance festival is unlike any other. Most often you’ll know a great majority of the people there. They are smaller, more intimate than a large music festival but somehow still have the same amazing energy throughout. People are high on the excitement of seeing their favorite dancers, shopping their favorite vendors and seeing friends that they might only see a few times a year or gasp only once per year! The food is always great, the people around you are good people – all of them. You feel this sense of safety in being with your chosen tribe. You can let loose and be yourself. Make those corny jokes you would never tell anyone else, have silly moments, dance around like no one is watching even though all of your friends are watching and loving anything you do. It’s a time that you wish could last forever and at the same time, you know in your heart that your energy level could never maintain your body through an eternal festival. Oh and the magic that happens! The creativity, the shared experiences are innumerable. Once, at the end of a festival we had been at all week long, the final act had just performed and it was awe-inspiring. Everyone exited the building with the biggest smiles on their faces from the magic they had witnessed on stage over the week. As we walked outdoors, we noticed little moon shaped shadows all over the ground and vehicles and people! There was a solar eclipse right at the end of the show like some magical bit of universe rewarding us for our sisterhood. We all danced and sang and clapped and enjoyed one of the most magical experiences I’ve ever had in my life.
What do you love about bellydance? Let me know in the comments!