Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Chubby Girl Faces The Glitter Cover Elephant In The Room

The Chubby Girl Faces The Glitter Cover Elephant In The Room
Hello Ladies, Chubby Girl / Cute Belly Dancer here to discuss another big topic that affects me in this world of oriental dance. I’m ready to confront and tackle that Glitter Cover Elephant that’s in the room, her full name My Weight Issue. It’s a name I’m sure allot of people who read my blogs know very well, and even though I have tried many times to simply put her in the corner and look away, her presence bears down on me everyday. So lets map out where I have been so far, first place Courageville, here is where I gather all my courage to even start belly dancing (The Chubby Girl Was Meant To Belly Dance Blog). At first the trip started off real rocky and seem to be a bad idea to begin with, but once I got there I discovered a town that felt like home in my heart and I never want to leave. After settling in for a bit, I decided to take a trip to the pool ( The Chubby Girl Takes A Dip Into The Belly Dance Pool Blog). I wanted to learn more about this dance, so I venture outside my weekly belly dance classes by taking some workshops, even though I was not sure I was ready to do that, I found swimming around with other dancers was a very rewarding experience. Then I decided to go camping ( The Chubby Girl Goes Camp Blog), I packed my bags and went to a belly dance oasis. During the day I learn how to build up my dancing technique and at night, I danced under the stars, I Love Camp! By looking at this map so far you can see there’s allot of great places I have been to and it’s apparent that belly dancing is a big part of my life. It’s not just a exercise I do to keep my body going, it goes way beyond that. I was born to do this dance and I love it with every fiber of my being. At work I daydream about it , and at night in bed I dream about it. But in order to get to those places I had to go through some very bad parts, everyone who has their own map, has them. Here are a few names of mine and they are the ones I’ll be covering in this blog. There’s Bulge City, Winded Valley and USuck Town and in all these places that Glitter Cover Elephant, My Weight Issue, has established herself and is mayor in all of them. Before I start they are two very important things I must say before you read on, here is the first. Now I know I must sound like a annoying parakeet, but I must once again repeat the previous warnings I have said in my other blogs. If you are my friend, what you read might make you feel bad and it can also make you feel uncomfortable to be around me. Those are not my intentions, but I did make a promise to share not only the good things that happen to me when I started to belly dance, but also the bad. Second thing is, does size matter when it comes to being a great belly dancer, and my answer to that is ABSOLUTELY NOT. I have seen many great dancers of all sizes, who’s technique and talent inspire me to be a better dancer. I have been blown away by these big voluptuous belly dancers who love their bodies and they can do moves that would take me years to perfect. To me if they are healthy and happy it’s all good. But this blog is about my weight and how its affected my happiness, health and overall belief in my skills or lack there of . So lets begin.
Welcome to Bulge City, here we guarantee any costume you try on, you will see bulges of your fat stick out. Now lets get one thing clear, I’m not happy with my body, too say I am is a bold face lie. In non-belly dancing mode I take special care to wear things that show the least amount of fat rolls, that stems from high school where I was called troll and fat ass and other names I can‘t bring myself to type out. When I started to belly dance I wear long shirts to cover my hips, I don’t want to see the spare tire underneath and I also didn‘t want other ladies to see it and feel sorry or laugh at me. But when I started dancing more and more I did find allot of women did not care what I look like, they saw me and my dancing. So it did help me get out of my fat shell, just a little though. I found I wanted what every other belly dance enthusiast wants, a beautiful costume to wear. Shopping for a big girl like me is not only a heartache but feels almost like torture. Finding plus size costumes is not easy, and its even harder when you are short, under 5’2 forget about it. Now I have been to conventions, haflas and such and there are people who sell beautiful costumes but they are meant for skinny girls, to find something that fits me is like finding a needle in a haystack. It breaks my heart cause I want so badly just to pick one, try it on and shimmy my heart out. I been blessed with huge boobs on top of that and the biggest coin bra I have tried on, my boobs runneth over, I knew I should not have listen to my sister when she said putting fertilizer on them would make them grow, it would appear I put too much. There are online stores who do sell sale plus size costumes but its is a guarantee that would have to alter them, now I don’t know how to sew and threading a needle takes me at least half hour to do, so that’s out. So the question now is did I ever get the nerve to wear a costume? Yes I did, with support of my fellow dancers and the best two inventions, fashion tape and belly cover ups. Before I joined Bahaia’s student troupe, danced a duet with another dancer and did solos, I knew needed to first get over this fear of showing my belly to the world. Even though I had more in the middle then the other ladies I shared the stage with, to them it was never a issue. Believe me I lived in constant fear that they were embarrassed by my body and I did things that I’m ashamed of. I’ll admit there were a couple of times I could not get over my fear and I made up excuses to bow out of performances (just admitting that brings tears to my eyes) cause I love dancing with all these ladies and seeing them dance on stage without me made my heart sink. For some ladies getting in and out of a costume is not a hard task, but for me its work. On top of that there’s a sort of mixture of sorry/embarrassment when other people have to help you get tape or safety pin in. I can’t even tell you how bad I felt when my duet partner spent more time making sure nothing pop out on me with tape and pin, then she did dressing herself. This city will not knock off my game, the road I take to be more comfortable with my body is hard, but it’s one I gladly take to keep dancing.
You are now approaching Winded Valley, you dance to get in but you crawl to get out. I will say this about myself, I truly think I’m a good dancer, I really do. Not a great one but I’m pretty good. I give credit to the dance teaches I had when I was a kid and to the belly dance teacher I have now. Taking classes and workshops has made my technique better, I’ve seen it. But here’s the thing, even though I’m excited to learn and can’t wait to dance, …my energy level seems to plummet down a deep ravine, and its takes time to crawl back up. I know for a fact I’m not healthy, and like Ace of Base I saw the signs and here they are. Bending over to tie my shoe is hard work for me, when I stand back up I’m breathing hard and I’m dizzy. After doing a beginning warm up I’m tired. When I’m done dancing a choreo a few times I find myself winded. Once at a convention during a workshop I felt like I was going to hit the floor, I ran out so I wouldn’t embarrass myself fainting in front of other people. So no I’m not healthy, I know it and others know it. My family and friends are very concerned for me, they’ve told me more then once. Anything that might prevent me from dancing is a big no no to them, but remember I eat my emotions so its very hard to eat healthy. When I get upset at work instead of eating the banana I have in the fridge I’m looking for the Hershey kisses bag I hid from others. So after writing these blogs I realized my health and my dancing are allot more important to me then that bag of reese buttercups, so I’m working on my diet. So what I’m doing to help my diet? Well I eat several times through out the day and keep my calorie intake to 1,200. I exercise a hour and half six days a week, the first thirty minutes I switch daily from running or weights, then the rest of the hour is concentrated on dancing. I had came up with the idea of 30day Choreo, something that would help my dancing, musicality and stamina. I pick a short song come up with a choreography for it, practice and after thirty days film it and post it. That way I can progress my weight and my dancing. I plan on starting it after camp, so in November. I also gave up my love of diet soda, I was reading a hormone book in March that talked about aspartame, it helps block a signal to your brain that you are full. AHHHHH No wonder I could eat two sandwiches, now I find I’m actually full faster, it worked.!! I do treat myself twice a week, a boba, some ice cream or a snickers bar. So my goal is not to be skinny (I gave up on that a long time ago) its to be healthy and have more energy to dance with my fellow hip shakers. Whether I lose ten or fifty pounds it does not matter. I will leave this town not on my hands and knees, but on my feet.
Good day! How are you? You are now entering USuck Town, here you will find the most unfriendliness people there are on the map and if you leave feeling horrible about yourself, well we have done our job. After entering the world of Raqs Sharki , I have found some of the most friendliest, greatest and sweetest people I know, some I now call my dearest friends. But with the sweets comes the sour. Unfortunately not everyone is friendly in this world of dance, and because of the way I look I have been kicked in the gut and shown I suck plenty of times. This one was very hard to write but to pretend it did not happen is unfair to me and other readers who have had similar experiences. So I’m here to recount a few things that hit me the hardest. Of course there was the first hit before I even dropped a hip, in my first blog I wrote about my first experience trying to dance and the first teach who refuse to teach me, that was a hard face slap to take. The second major hit I took happen to me at a dance competition in Austin, my duet partner and I were there to perform a never before seen routine we had work so hard on. After getting ready, we went to a waiting room filled with other dancers, everybody was talking and go over their routines, it was like entering a hen house full of excited chicks. My partner went to a quiet area to practice with her finger cymbals and I was sitting by myself going over my routine in my head. Even though I was in Austin there were not too many people I knew so I kept to myself. Sure enough I felt strange and heavy, I looked up and there were two girls sitting up against a wall staring at me. For at least good ten minutes , they were looking at me, talking to each other and then look at me some more, and even though they were only twenty feet away I could not hear a word they said (the room was loud). I knew for sure they were talking about me when one them blew up her cheeks and gave herself a double chin, the other one laughed and looked at me. I couldn’t believe it, was I back in high school? Someone I knew and to be honest I can’t remember who ( because I was in shock I think) came up to me to see I how I was and to compliment my skirt. I asked her what was their problem and I nodded my head toward those two vipers, she looked over at them and told me “just ignore them” then I heard her talk to my partner, who I didn’t realize had return and was practicing behind me. For five more minutes they continued so I looked at them and mouth the words “Fuck You” they eyes about popped out and they turned their attention to some other girls, their friends I’m guessing. Now I have never seen those two ladies before in my life and I was surrounded by allot of other women I did not know, but those two were the only ones who felt the need to make fun of me and my weight. Everyone else was friendly and courteous. I decided not to tell my partner what happen that night so we could just enjoy our dance, we were the third act and afterwards we were able to sit down and enjoyed the rest of the show. I saw those two girls again and I know what there names are now and that they are local girls, but I refuse to name them, because naming them gives them power over me, and that won‘t happen. I never talked to them, but their disgust for me is always evident, at a rehearsal for some shows that were happening last year one smirked then laughed at me in the hall, I left the studio got in the car and was in tears………those tears were made up of frustration and pride. Ever so often I see them at shows, they look at me and talk to each other. I realized to them I’m probably that fat girl that shows up at belly dance venues. Then there is the combination of people who always feel the need to put you in your place and tell you that you’ll never get anywhere with your dancing. I had a client the other day who knows I belly dance and she felt the need to let me know that in her mind belly dancers are beautiful skinny girls and that’s just something I’m not, but in a friendly way. Hey its hurts anyway you say it. What other women have to realize is that even though they might not have issues with their weight like I do or others in the same situation I’m in, this is the shit that does happen to us, we are grown women but we still get made fun of. I know how you feel, its how you take it that makes the difference. None of those people will ever stop me from dancing, they push me down I’ll will come right back up. And having friends I can vent my frustration to and have my back helps tremendously, more then they know. So guess what USuck Town , you can just suck it.
There I face that beautiful Glitter Cover Elephant, My Weight Issue, in every town. No doubt she will always be there and that’s okay with me. Because her being there makes me a stronger person inside and out. Now off to HipShakerVille, the best place on the map.

Misty Waggoner

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Chubby Girl Goes To Camp

Free At Cabaret Dance Camp

The Chubby Girl Goes To Camp, Say What!?!?! You said camp right, as in camping out? I tell you something right now about me, and perhaps other ladies ( thin or chubby) might feel the same way, the word camp or camping scares the shit out of me. When I hear those words dreaded images pop up in my mind. Such as being outside with one million bugs wanting to feed off my body like a buffet, peeing outside and fearful a snake might come up and bite me in the ass, or having to sleep on the hard ground wrap up like a cocoon in my sleeping bag. Now I know I have plenty of cushion on my body, but this lady needs a mattress. And call me a wuss but I live in Texas, which is located right next to the sun, so having a a/c unit or a fan is a big must. So a couple of years ago that scary word “camp” came up in Bahaia class when she started talking about her Cabaret Dance Camp ( a camp she started and continually runs each year in the fall). Truth be told when she started talking about it all I heard was camp, learning, fun, dancing, s’mores, my mind sort of spaced out, I guess the word camp does that to me. Then she said to look at her website for more info about it. Leaving class I was saying good bye to Jessica ( aka Wonder Woman) and she asked me if I was going, now I know I don’t have what you might call a “poker face” you can tell how I’m feeling almost instantly, and I can tell Jessica just witness my scare shitless face. She started to tell me right away how much fun it was, and it was a experience I wouldn’t want to miss, plus I should really really really think about it, and if I had questions ask her. So the next day at work I looked it up on Bahaia website. After reading about it I knew right away it was not what I had imagined, basically I was not going to be spending my time on survivor island. So this is what I found out about Cabaret Dance Camp before I even attended. I was not going to be stuck sleeping outside or in a tent, peeing in a man made hole I had to dig up myself. The camp was located at a place called Camp Rio Vista, it has cabins with bunk beds, fans, and bathrooms (so it has showers, toilets, sinks etc.) I‘m liking it already. I was not going to have to whittle a piece of wood into a spear to go hunting for my food or swim in the river and catch fish in my mouth, all of your meals are provided for, what a relief. Now for the part that really got me, according to the website I was going to a place that is surrounded by mother nature at her finest, here I will be able to step up my belly dance education. After my experience at the convention in my last blog I knew right away I wanted to learn more and more about the dance I love, and here at Cabaret Dance Camp there would be star instructors teaching hours of belly dance. LOVE!!!!!!! Also when there are no classes, you have time to relax by the river, shop around with local vendors that sold everything having to do with belly dance, play games with fellow hip shakers, then at night there are belly dance shows and s’mores/bonfire parties afterwards. I read it over and over again, and each time I did my heart ached more and more to go. So after mulling it over for a couple of weeks I made the hard never look back decision to go.

I did have to make sure that all my bases were covered when it came to my family and my business, my sister Mary made sure she would have off from work in Houston so she could come out to Austin and be back up for my Father in case he needed help with my Mom. And even though camp was still a couple of months away, I had three schedule jobs that week, but my Father said he look after them for me, no worries. I’m so grateful to have a family who support my belly dance, I love them so much, I think I‘ll keep them (wink). But before I could put my money down transportation was a issue, and camp was three and a half hours away. I could not take my own vehicle, it has the lift for my Mom and my Dads truck was out of the question. Its used to pick up materials and haul trash from the jobs, also its use as a back up if one of my guys trucks breaks down ( which has happen) that was not chance I was willing to take. I would take my sister’s car but camp starts on a Thursday and she would not get to Austin until Friday night. The next class I went to Bahaia started talking about camp again, she looked at me and asked if I was going, when I said I want to but I don’t have a way to get there she said “ Don’t worry we will get you there”. She wasn’t kidding, the next day I get a email from a fellow Belly Dancer name Claire (who lives in the same town as I do and is also Bahaia student) saying she be more then happy to give me a lift. I was so grateful that these wonderful women were not going to allow not having a vehicle get in the way of going to camp, so after iron out some details with Claire for the trip I booked myself a hot ticket to Cabaret Dance Camp. The week before camp I found myself not only counting down the days but also the hours. But unfortunately I also found myself getting very nervous, AGAIN!! Now what I’m about to say is what I felt, other ladies who are also overweight might feel the same way as I do, and then again some may feel the opposite. Being obese I seem to experience a lot mixed emotions when I try something new, and going to camp was no different, but Im here to tell my story, I refuse to sugar coat anything. So once again if you can’t handle some information that might make you feel uncomfortable (especially if you know me), stop reading and know this, Cabaret Dance Camp was the best experience I ever had and I beg all my fellow hip shakers to go, just to experience it once is something you won‘t forget, I guarantee it. Now if you want to hear what made me nervous, here we go. Lets start with my body, as I said before I am a five foot lady who’s about 100 pounds overweight ( just to admit that now makes every part of my body twist into a knot) but its true. There are times when I do resemble a M&M and I‘m convinced if I curled up and grab my knees, I could roll to places faster then I do when I’m walking. So the whole insecure stuff starts to rise up like a rash that won’t go away and I start to ask myself the same questions I always ask. Will the other ladies look down on me or feel pity for being fat? Will they make fun of me when I try to waddle up and down the hills? How Im I going to change or take a shower in front of other women without them looking at my body? Also will they watch how much I eat? That’s always a good one, I think everyone would be surprise how may overweight people there are who feel that others are always watching them eat. Also questions about my belly dance experience comes up. Im I ready for this? Do I know enough to pick up whatever I learn? What if I’m the worse one there? All this worries and questions don’t stop until I get there.

Finally the big day arrives, worried or not I paid and I was going. It took me three days to pack, I was trying real hard to minimize how much stuff I was taking, I did not want to overload Claire’s car because she was sweet enough to give me a ride in the first place. But hey I’m a girl, and I think we all know girls like options, so I was very happy to find out that another wonderful woman and fellow belly dancer and Bahaia student Kim, was going to come with her car and put some of my stuff with hers. Yeah!! And off we go caravanning to camp like gypsies. The ride to camp help ease my fears, talking to Claire help kept my mind from not filling up with doubt, plus she had been to camp already so she was able to tell me some good camp stories, it help. When we arrived I was taken aback by the place, the location was beautiful and serene. It was so green and the river that runs along the camp was so tranquil, I’m not even joking when I say the river look like it was mediating. When I step out of the car and look around my body began to decompress instantly, that is the effect the environment at camp had on me. I found the cabin Jessica was staying in and I unpacked my stuff, it made me feel better knowing I was in a cabin with a couple ladies I already know, Im still a bit shy when it comes to strangers, especially when Im in a place I'm not use to. Each belly dancer gets there own bunk and can decorate it however they want, also there was a contest for best decorations. So I thought it would be cool to do a Jason Ski Mask Monster theme one, since he does go after campers. I felt a bit silly afterwards, everyone else had funny, cute girly decorations, oh well that just me. We had dinner and I was delighted to see some more faces I recognize, Bahaia went over the schedule, handed out shirts and introduce the star instructors. Ranya Renee and Roxanne Shelby were the big names that year, and of course like anyone else I looked up information and videos about them, and I was excited to start learning what that had to teach. The next few days were not what I expected, each hour I was there I found myself letting go more and more of the heavy doubt I was having, unfortunately it did not break off fast enough. That first night I actually slept in the clothes I came in and I made sure to get up very early to change before anybody saw me, I was laid backed in bed ready to go while everyone else was getting up. Friday went as plan, the classes were wonderful and I found that I was not worried at all about whether or not I could keep up, or if people were singling me out. All the ladies, even the ones I just met were super nice. And just like the convention, don’t feel like you have to learn every single thing, just take in what you can, believe it or not your dance knowledge does grow. That night was the first show and I signed myself up to dance in it ( what was I thinking) , fortunately liquor is allowed at camp so it help shake a little bit of my fear away. A month before, I had come up with this solo that combined my love for hip hop and belly dance(my first solo), it started out with a Usher song, then turned to a Hakim pop Arabic song. People were cheering and it seem they enjoyed it but as I watch the rest of the dancers perform I started to scold myself. Everybody was doing Arabic songs not mixing it up like I did, I began to worry that the others ladies including Bahaia would feel I did not take this seriously. It would hang over my head that entire night. I woke up the next day dress and ready to go, after breakfast I found myself standing next to Ranya Renee who looked straight at me and said “I really enjoyed your dance last night, you got everyone attention and it was fun, you need to keep that up” she was serious. My stomach did flips and I thanked her. During class that day I had a major breakthrough, after we were given a short break all I can say was I had the sudden urge to cry. I went straight outside and sat down by a tree and balled my eyes out, what was happening to me was that all of the negative energy I had left inside my body was spilling out. And I also found I had a major epiphany about myself. When you bottle all those bad things you feel about yourself, one way or another it will come spilling out, and mine came out like a river. I realized I was not given myself enough credit when it came to my dancing, I have no problem now to admit that even though I’m overweight I ‘m a really good dancer. Not the best but I’m really good one and taking this classes and workshops will make me a better one. And also I don’t care what people think about my body, after that there was no problem getting undress or showering in front of other ladies, I didn’t have anything they have not seen before. After my cry fest I cleaned myself up the best I could and went back in, but here’s the thing about me crying you can totally tell I have and when somebody ask me was I crying even though I say no the tears come back out. So I cried a little bit more and received some hugs, but I love the fact nobody try to force me  to say why I was crying, its as if they knew this experience brings out things in us we never knew we had.

The weekend continued and there was laughing, belly dance games, crafts, relaxing by the river, music, dancing, drinking wine and having s’mores beside a big campfire. Stories were shared, I made new friends that I still keep in touch with even though they live in another state and nobody I mean NOBODY was pushed to the side. There was also some great shopping, always my favorite! When Sunday came around I was sad to go, I hug everybody goodbye and wish them adieu. So there, I popped my camp cherry that first year and the following year was even better! I hope by reading this anyone who is nervous because of there weight can save some of the heartache I went through. Bahaia created this Cabaret Dance Camp, so that everyone can enjoy learning belly dance in a safe and beautiful environment, it makes everyone feel welcome and it’s a great time. And I can’t thank her enough for coming up with it. This year will be my third time to go and I can‘t wait, I wanted to come up with a power word to wear on my shirt the first day of camp this year. Something that sums up camp for me, so I came up with FREE. Cabaret Dance Camp makes me feel Free. F is for Friends, old or new ones, Im always surrounded by my belly sisters who become my dearest friends, we support each other in our love for this dance. R is for Relaxation, being a Cabaret surrounded by nature ( green hills and cool river) my body automatically relaxes and Im able to let my guard down and have fun and not feel insecure one bit. E is for Evolving , my belly dance education evolves more and more as I get to learn from some of the best teachers that come to teach at camp. And the final E is for Epiphany, every time I'm at camp I learn something new about myself and it never fails to surprise me. And just like Jessica said if you feel unsure or have any questions please feel free to contact me. And once again thank you to Bahaia, Kim , Claire , Jessica and the rest of my belly dance sisters for making me feel welcome, reaching out to someone who is alone at a event does make a big difference. See everybody at Camp this year!

Learn More About Cabaret Dance Camp

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The Chubby Girl Takes A Dip Into The Belly Dance Pool Link

Hello again fellow hip shakers, as I said in the last blog belly dancing became a big part of my life, and like a rollercoaster there has been ups, downs and even twist. So the adventures of the Chubby Belly Dancer continues, but be warned…… what I’m about to say is the harsh truth, sugar coating what happen to me is not fair to you. Anyone who is not happy with their body because they are obese ( just like me) needs to know that whatever feelings ,good or bad, and or obstacles they have run into, they are not alone. And if you know me and are my friend, take extra precaution reading my blogs, I don’t want to put you in a even weirder position around me. Know this, I love you guys dearly, and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for my friends. 

 Okay, so lets do a very short summary of what I wrote in my last blog. I love to dance, I have been moving and a grooving since I could walk. I take care of my paraplegic mother, work at a flooring store and I’m a emotional eater ( that’s how I got the big belly I have now). On a Vegas trip I spotted belly dancers and became fascinated, watching them dance inspire me to take up belly dancing. The first teacher I found, Bomb Dropper, rejected me like a bad virus. The second teacher I found, Bahaia, welcome with me with open arms and I fell in love with the dance. Now the adventure continues. To be honest at first I had no idea where taking belly dance lessons once a week would take me, I was just very happy to be doing it and I couldn‘t wait to get to class. It had become something I would tell not only my friends and family, I let everyone within ear shot know. Every ones reactions were mostly positive, but of course if they weren’t blown away by it I thought they were nuts. HELLO , did you not hear me, I said BELLY DANCING. To me it was the coolest thing ever, and the fact I was doing it ( even though I have major body issues) was without a doubt a major accomplishment. It took a family member to make me think , did I want to pursue this more then just weekly classes, can I do this more then once a week, and how far can someone like me go. Now this where I decided to expand my knowledge of the dance, being a night owl I would do research and watch performances on youtube at night. I really love youtube, it help change my life, side note: ( If u love your performance, video it and put it on youtube, it really does inspire people) After a month of doing this the coolest thing came to light, it was in Bahaia’s class when I first heard of the Austin Belly Dance Convention, a place where master teachers come from different parts of the globe to teach workshops, showing students new way to dance. YOU ARE KIDDING ME, here in Austin a event like this happens, in my own backyard I can expand my knowledge and meet star dancers. I was giddy when I got home, but the next day when I got on the net to look at the event and what it had to offer, I found myself becoming sad. All I could think about was my weight again, it took months to unpeel myself from the wall in Bahaia’s class and work my way up to the front. I still remember that day being in the front row, I wanted so badly to not suck and to impress her with what I had learn in class. Needless to say I wanted her to see I was dancing the best I could. Now I have to go into unknown territory if I wanted to get more out of this dance, which I did. I wanted to digest everything I could if it helps me become a better dancer. But sitting in front of the computer and wondering can I really do this, I started to develop that goldfish swimming around in my gut feeling, just like that day right before starting my first belly dance class. For a week I thought about it, and before I could chicken out I took what I call, the safe route. The Austin Belly Dance Convention offers many classes, the headliner has workshops on Saturday and Sunday mornings and there are also mini -workshops you can take in the afternoon. And also there is a ton of shopping for belly dancers available there, which I love . One of the mini workshops was being taught by my teacher, so I decided to take that one and then go to the shows they had on Friday and Saturday night. There, I might not have gotten into the pool, but I did manage to get a toe in. 

 So here it goes, my first experience into the Raks Sharqi world outside my normal classes. I miss the night show Friday, but when I got to the venue Saturday afternoon to take my class I still had to push myself out of the car. You probably thinking by now, my word she is a ball of nerves, but remember I am still very self conscious about my weight. I been made fun of, look down on and been told I would never be able to do certain things because of my weight, that is something one does not get over in a few months. This was a big step for me, and one giant leap for my new belly dance life, one I was determine to have. The atmosphere at the convention is very hard to explain, but I will do my best to describe it. Keep in mind, this was my very first visit to something like this and I was by myself, I still was a introvert and had not reach out to people just yet. I saw faces I recognize, but said nothing. I was determine to sit on the couch alone and wait for my class to start, I hope no one notice me. I was afraid to be deem not worthy of taking classes with other ladies who had far more experience and talent then I did. But out of nowhere that girl with big hair and glasses plop herself on the couch next to me to say hi, it was Jessica, the one who took role that first day in Bahaia class. We talk about the convention a little bit, and when she asked what classes I was taking I told her only Bahaias, she said “that’s it, mmph” we said our goodbyes and she left. That girl was determine to make me feel I belong, little did I know that down the road she become one of my dearest friends. After taking my class I went downstairs to look at what the vendors were selling, after table browsing for awhile I actually started to imagine myself at a night market in Marrakech. There I was surrounded by beautiful costumes made out of lovely fabric, exquisite jewelry and what you may call a belly dancer arsenal (cane, swords, veils, finger cymbals, you name it) and many other sparkly things. And on top of that there was music playing in the background, all that was missing was the camel rides. But I will be brutally honest, when it came to the costumes and even hip scarfs, options for a chubby girl like me were slim to none, and I teared up a little bit. I left and went to change clothes at a friends house and came back to watch the Saturday night show. If you have never seen a belly dance show, get to the net and find one nearest you, its an incredible thing to watch. I actually stood in the back since all the seats were filled up, if my feet were hurting during the show I didn’t notice, I was too busy taking it all in. The talent on that stage was incredible and I told myself, that’s why I want to learn as much as I can about this dance. I want to dance like that, or at least try to be the best I can be. I want to dance with fluidity or no hesitation in my step, just like those fabulous dancers did. And that’s why they come to teach, to help lead you onto that path, but you have to be willing to open your heart and mind and learn what you can from them. I went home that night , laid in bed I thought about what I saw. No one there looked down on me for my appearances and people in general were friendly and happy. I was cursing myself for being scared, again and I wish I had taking more classes. But I knew one thing for sure, me having this big belly was not going to get in my way from learning from a star dancer, when one comes to your town, and you have always admire their dancing, go and learn from them. Bahaia actually started this wonderful event called the Austin Belly Dance Convention, the first year I went was her last year to run it. Now Stacy Lizette (another great dancer) is in charge of it, and she does a wonderful job of running it. In the past few years I go to the convention and I enjoy every bit of it. From the classes, shopping, shows and hanging out with my fellow belly dancing friends. I can honestly say every time I leave a class, I take something away from it, learning from these wonderful women has made me a better dancer and I hope to grow more. So go fellow hip shakers, learn what you can, cause in my opinion you can always learn more!

 In the next blog, I will talk about Camperet a belly dance camp, another big step for me. Then the one after that I plan to cover the chubby pink elephant in the room, my weight in the belly dance world. How people have treated me, the costume issues, my stamina and what I’m doing about it now, stay tune.

Shakes You Later
Misty Dawn

P.S. Thank you Bahaia and Stacy creating this workshops and bringing in dancers with tremendous talent to teach them. To be able to learn from them is such a wonderful gift I cant thank you enough for.

P.S.S  And thank you to my new found belly sisters without you guys i would never come out of my shell to be the ham I am today, love u!

Here are links I love

My teacher Bahaia,, the one who open my eyes to this wonderful dance, love her!

Kahramana Is a belly sister who makes beautiful hip scarves, she has then in all sizes, and I mean all sizes, her I the ones I wear and love.

Kimora is another belly sister of mine, a talented sword dancer and makes the best belly dance t-shirts

And finally the The Austin Belly Dance Convention, best place ever!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Chubby Girl Was Meant To Belly Dance


  • Dear Fellow Belly Dancers

  •                   Let me start out by saying I’ve always love to dance. As far back as I can remember, my mother always had music on inside our house. Whether we were doing house chores, or having a party or just hanging out she put on all kinds of different songs on (full blast), as long as it had kicking beat you can dance to. She yell out to my brother, sister and I to just “Dance, dance, dance” and if I shut my eyes now I can still see her moving her body all around, always with her eyes closed as if she was listening to music and it was telling her what to do. When I was seven she purchased me a Care Bear Record player for my room, along with two small records, Madonna and Gloria Estefan. I would line up all my stuff toys on the bed , then I perform dance routines for them. I would come up with different dance moves for Material Girl and they were ( at least in my mind) seriously impressed by my moves. Like many other little girls out there I took the ballet, jazz and tap dance for six months, and even at my elementary down in the Valley (Padre Island, very heavy Hispanic population) we would learn all kinds of Spanish dances cumbia, salsa, flamenco you name it. But sometimes misfortune will decide to pop her ugly head in. When I was eleven my mother was involved in a hit and run accident, she was in the hospital and rehab center for year, and sadly she was left paralyzed from the waist down. My father transferred us to a small town near Austin, so he can build my mom a wheelchair accessible house and she can be closer to better hospitals. As a family unit we took care of her and as I got older I made the decision to stay with my parents and continued helping. Keep in mind she’s not completely helpless, I only help by taking her shopping, bathing her and I take care of her when she is sick. She can do allot of other things on her own, she is the most energized, outspoken, loving and giving person I know. That accident did not kill her love for life nor her love for music. So dancing just became something I did in the privacy in my home for many years, we lived in a small town that was at least a forty five minute drive from any dance class (there was that small hip hop dance stint that lasted six weeks when I was in high school)
  •                   Now I will make a undeniably true statement about myself, something many people who read this can relate to. I Eat My EMOTIONS!!! If you don’t know what that means I’ll fill you in. Whenever I’m stressed, sad, angry and sometimes even when I’m really happy I eat. So on my small five foot frame I posses a big belly. It started out in junior high, I went from she’s a little chubby to wow she overweight. And on top of that I have big boobs, thanks to my parents genes where big boobs run on both sides of the family. So I have heard every fat and big boob joke you can ever hear, I get the looks, the ugly jokes and the cruel comments even to this day. I’ve done tons of different diets, some have worked, the most I lost was fifty pounds but like that pesky bee it came back. But even with a big belly I still dance around my house. After high school life moved on , I went to school and studied graphic design, even after getting my degree I decided to help my family run a flooring store that I now own. I do like it , I help people pick out colors for their house and it changes their homes for the better. I’m good at it, probably due to all those art classes I took. Now comes the important part. My family and I have been going to Vegas since I was fourteen, why Las Vegas always, because in Vegas people who are handicapped are treated like royalty, there is never anything to worry about when you are in Vegas. Believe me its nice that everything is accessible, cause allot of other places are not 9 even in the Austin area). When I was twenty eight and vacationing in Las Vegas I saw something that changed my life forever. 
  •                     I remember I was with my Father at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas. We were both playing on slot machines , passing time before we meet my Mom and sister at the buffet for lunch. All of sudden this music came on and I turned around in my seat to see where it was coming from. There near the bar were three belly dancers in beautiful costumes performing a small number. Sadly it only lasted for five minutes and after a round of applause they left. I looked at my Father and told him “That was the coolest thing I ever seen, I want to do that.” He told me “Go for it Bear” and kept playing his machine. All through out the rest of the trip and the plane ride home I kept thinking about it. I go home and look up videos of belly dancing and the more I watched the more I was hooked. It became this little thought seed planted in my mind, and the more I feed into it the bigger it grew. Well, one day I was at work alone with my Mother, she was updating her accounting books and I was just sitting there with nothing to do. I brought up the idea of buying some dvds to jump start my belly dancing practice that I‘ve been rambling on about for weeks. She looked at me, smiled and said she couldn’t wait to see me shake it. She suggested before I buy a dvd to see if anybody in Austin taught it, and without hesitation I started fumbling through the yellow pages. I found only one with a address pretty close to where I lived, grabbed my phone and dialed the number. Even while I was waiting for someone to answer , I was literally shaking with delight . After what seemed like a lifetime someone finally picked up and I was about to start my very first conversation with a legit belly dancer. I told this woman ( who will remain nameless) that I was interested in taking belly dance classes and what can she tell me about it. She started to explain about the dance and how her classes were structure. The first thing that she said ( which made me feel very uncomfortable) was her clothing requirement for the class. To be her student you had to wear a black body suit and black leggings with a hip scarf, nothing more. Being self conscious about my body already, she wanted me to wear a outfit that exposed every roll I had. Then she talked about the different levels, and how you were not able to past to the next level without her approval. As the conversation went on, the high expectations I had of belly dancing began to sink lower and lower. She reminded me of General Patton, perhaps she was, of oriental dance that is . But I kept telling myself I need to try. When she was done she asked me if I had any more questions. I told her no, then I explained to her why I was interested in it. I was overweight I wanted to do a fun exercise , I had seen belly dancing in person and it looked fantastic. All she heard was overweight. She then asked me how much I weighed and my height , and when I told her she became very straight forward. She immediately told me that with my weight and height there was no way I could do this dance, I would not be able to perform allot of the move she teaches. Needless to say I was flabbergasted, and my only response was thank you for your time and she hung up. My mom could see the big disappointment on my face and asked what happen. When I told her she wanted to pick up the phone and give that lady a piece of her mind. I told her don’t , because if she felt she could not teach me then that was that. That plant that was growing inside my head went into hibernation for awhile. 
  •                         I was sad and disappointed about it for few months, me being fat had managed to get in the way of what I really wanted to do, again. So I ate and thought to myself it was not meant to be. One night at my house we were having a dinner party and the conversation turned to belly dancing. I don’t remember how or why but my Mother looked at me and said go to the computer right now and find someone else to teach you, I want to see my baby shake it. So I did, and low and behold to my surprise Austin had its own belly dancing website. There were a list of teachers in and around the Austin area, and in beautiful white font on a black background were the words “ Women of all ages, shapes, colors and sizes are embraced as sisters of the dance.” There it was shapes or sizes, so I can dance this dance, my weight didn’t matter, why did I not search the internet before to find a teacher. ARRRGGHHHH! So I looked at the north Austin area teachers and of course that teacher, who I’ve now nick named the Bomb Dropper, was the first one on the list. Ummmmm nope don’t think so, next. Bahaia of Austin was next, and her studio was the closest to were I lived, at least a thirty minute drive. I went to her website, read her bio and then did what I’m pretty sure we all do, switch on over to you tube. I typed in her name and found one video of her teaching a class. As I watched it I saw the women were wearing comfortable clothes and there were happy. Bahaia had started the video recorder, got in place and did a little wave and smile to the camera, then they started to dance a finger cymbal routine. But that little wave and smile sealed the deal, she looked so nice and not the kind of person who would make me feel bad about my weight. I signed up for classes and told myself I’m finally going to learn how to belly dance. When the day came for my first lesson I had to pump myself up into even driving to the studio, I was still so nervous about my weight. I didn’t want to be surrounded by other ladies staring at me thinking “look at that little fat girl trying to dance how sad.” As I parked I could see into the dance studio and it was empty, oh crap I’m an hour early how did I do that. So I waited until there were several ladies inside, then I could slip in and disappear amongst the crowd. Sure enough this woman with long hair and big eyes came up to me asking for my name, I tried to avoid her eyes but she was not letting down, so I looked at her and said “Misty” “Nice to meet you Misty, I’m Jessica” and moved on. The class started with Bahaia explaining what she was going to teach, how she would break down the movements and to not be discourage if you didn’t feel you have it right away, it takes practice. She would also be sending out emails and wanted to make sure she got everybody address correct. But there was one that did not seem to work. “Who is goddess4yu?” Oh shit my plan on not being notice has just failed big time, that stupid domain name I gave myself long time ago was putting me in a place where I did not want to be, noticed. I walked up , quickly gave a different address, and slip back into the crowd. I borrowed a hip scarf and we started to warm up. Bahaia had us get in a circle to do a walking warm up, sure enough once we started she already had to correct my arm positioning. Man I already suck, dang it. We face the mirrors and worked on hip slides, hip circles and hip drops. She broke down the movements and then we started to dance to music. Its hard to explain even now in words, but it was freaking awesome, I felt myself letting go and going with the music. It just felt so natural to me, like this was something I was suppose to be doing a long time ago. This might sound corny but my soul felt at ease. I wanted to thank Bahaia after the first class ,but it wouldn’t be until the session was done that I worked up the nerve to thank her to her face. After my first lesson, I got home and showed everybody what I learned. Doing a simple move like a hip drops really sets me on fire, for me its that one key move that says hey I’m belly dancer. I brought my own hip scarf and I’ve been taking class for a few years now. Belly dance became a big part of my life with ups and downs, I‘ve met many different people and been taking many different workshops, but that’s another story. The lesson for now is never let anyone say you can’t dance this dance because of your weight. There is no need to be nervous and I found that out after that first lesson nobody was trying to single me out because I’m overweight and my teacher help me feel at ease. And I know there are people who want to look down on you, just give them a good old fashion hip piston to the side and do what you love to do . My weight has not stop me in learning everything I can about Belly Dance, and should not stop you. Do your research in your local area, and find a teacher that makes you feel at home. Thank you Mom for making me dance and listen to music all my life. And thanks to Bahaia for showing me a dance I truly love.
  • Misty Waggoner