Belly dancing is something it would never have occurred to me to try. I would dearly love to be able to street dance, but a serious knee condition rules that out. As a compromise, I thought I’d try and find a short course of salsa, that way, if my knees couldn’t cope, I’d lost very little money, and with a short course rather than an on-going class, the instructor would need to start at my (appallingly) novice level.
Whilst scouring the local Adult Education website I stumbled across a 10 week course of belly dancing, and pictured myself belly dancing. Now I should say at this point that my knees are not the sole obstacle standing between me and dancing finesse that would make Fred Astaire weep with joy. When it comes to dancing I have the skill, rhythm, timing and grace of a drunk stick insect. It took several minutes for the convulsive laughter to subside, and when I composed myself sufficiently to phone up and enquire, it transpired there was 1 place remaining. It was a sign! If the forces of fate wish to unleash a drunken belly-dancing stick insect upon Bournemouth, who am I to argue?!
Like many women, my stomach is my most disliked part of my anatomy. The chances of me whipping on a bust-skimming top and sashaying around with my one-pack on display are slim to none. I wore a t-shirt with either tracksuit bottoms or jeans to class and after the first class purchased a jingly sarong-style belt with attached little gold coins from eBay for the princely sum of £4. Jingling is a must, and I have to say, adds to the fun! We were all similarly attired, and danced in our socks, except for one sexy lady who arrived each week in full Arabian-style outfit peppered with coins, with flowing sleeves, exposed midriff, and Aladdin style trousers and took things very seriously which, I’m sorry to say, amused me no end.
You will have accurately concluded by now, that I had none, but the fabulous part was it mattered not. The instructor did indeed start right from the very basics, taught us on average 2 new steps per week, and had us trying out various different routines each class. Before long we were twisting, shimmying and jingling around the hall in true Shakira fashion.
- Fun! Belly-dancing is great fun, particularly if you go with friends, and even more so if, like me, you look like you’re having some sort of sponsored epileptic fit
- Exercise. It’s actually far more energetic than it looks, and on many occasions the instructor had us in a slight sweat, yet it was far from tedious exercise
- Equipment. Just some jingle-tastic belt action, which can be acquired at very low cost
- Individual. You don’t need a partner (apparently salsa is woefully undersubscribed by men)
- Toning. I noticed no discernable difference to my one-pack, but with all the twisting I’m sure it works the abs nicely. The instructor was an extremely skinny minny. (the cow!)
- Fitness. It was certainly harder on my knees than I’d expected, and with all the twisting and hip-flicking involved, people with back or hip problems might struggle.
- Feminist. Definitely one for the girls. Although I’ll bet the boyfriends will be all in favour!
Unfortunately the course in my area was at an extremely awkward time of day (5pm, so far too early to go after work), and when my working days changed I wasn’t able to continue with the class, but belly-dancing was a fantastic way of exercising without even realising that you’ve exercised, and I highly recommend it. Go on girls! Get jingling!