It is no secret that I am a bellydancer. Raks Sharqi is one of the most misunderstood art forms in the United States. People imagine all sorts of the wrong things when they hear "bellydance." Bellydance is not striptease, it is not erotic or burlesque dance -- though there is no question, it can be sexy and there is a flirtatious, playful element to the dance at times. It is an ancient art form that originated as a by-women-for-women activity, and some say it is the original childbirth training. Bellydance is every bit as disciplined as ballet (which I have also studied), with precision, routines, drills, and protocols. I don't mean to sound as if I have a chip on my shoulder, I just want people to understand what bellydance is.
Last night Ned and I went to the Middle East in Cambridge, which some say may be a bit of a dive but I don't think so. It is my favorite place to go these days. You cannot beat the friendly, excited atmosphere. As the night wears on and a few bellydancers have been through, the place becomes a giant dance party. Many in the audience are bellydancers, so the dancing is fun to watch and to do.
My friend Jacqui was dancing last night; here she is having fun with Shannon, another friend, who is trying to shower her with dollars (that is a custom that takes a little getting used to!).
Lolisha, my very first teacher, was there, too, with a beginner class, who were all very excited at being able to recognize different movements Lolisha had taught them.
Here is John, the gorgeous Lebanese waiter who is everywhere at once.
My sweetheart and I not only enjoyed the show, we had an especially good time with each other!