I thought you'd all enjoy this event from my past. It was humiliating, but it did push me to a higher place...
4th of July
The dance took many side roads before landing me on my current path. My earliest memory, which I'm sure isn't a really memory but I've heard stories and seen photos, was being bounced on my Father's shoulder as he listened to jazz music. He would come home from work and my Mother would hand me to him so she could start dinner, and have some time to herself I'm sure. He would hold me as he shuffled around the living room listening to Django Reinhart and Benny Goodman. Another memory that I have is dancing around the house with a grey tablecloth (it was a rayon blend, very drapey..but that's another chapter) to the Peer Gynt Suite. It was just such an evocative piece of music! At one point my Mother enrolled me in ballet class. I must have been 4 or 5 years old. I was painfully shy as a child and young adult. Seriously! I had to train myself to smile at people and be outgoing (that's the waitressing chapter, coming soon.) I couldn't get up and dance with the other ballerina's, it was too overwhelming. The teacher came up with an idea to keep me involved; I was the Wake Up Fairy. At the end of the class, the ballerina's would all "nap" on their towels, I assume this was to calm them and bring them back to workable child status before being delivered back to their parents. My job was to take the Wand tap each dancer on the head to "wake her up" and let her know it was time to go. While I didn't learn anything about ballet, I did begin my career as director!
Fast forward ten years, I'm 12 or 13 years old. I have taken up Square Dancing. A girl friend's parents were active in the circuit and we had gotten involved as well. I was really loving it. The teamwork of the circle, the caller giving cues, being whirled around, grabbing hands..and the costume. Having recently learned to sew I was delighted with making skirts and blouses. The short, bouncy skirt was made with yards of ruffled calico. Trimmed with rick rack it culminated at the waist with a stiff buckram band to hold it in place over the voluminous petticoat made of net and voile. Blouses had to be loose in the bodice to allow free range of movement, snug in the arms to anchor it, and of course, trimmed with rick rack or embroidery. One even wore ruffled "bloomers", tight thigh length underpants that would flash a cute backside without giving away any "pertinent information."
So here we were, approaching the 4th of July. There was going to be a big party, and I had been asked out by a boy! Ever gullible and excited, I volunteered to make our outfits. Of course the ensembles had to be red, white and blue. I chose a stars and stripe fabric and designed my skirt and his shirt to work with the pattern of the fabric. Truthfully, I don't remember what my skirt looked like. What I do remember is the attention that I put into his shirt. I remember lining up the front placket so that the stars matched up perfectly. I was really proud of it.
Then came the day of the party. I dressed myself and waited for him to arrive, so that I could give him his shirt. I waited...and waited...and waited. Gullible though I was, it didn't take me too long to realize I had been stood up. A special part of me shut down that day, I was crushed and humiliated. I didn't go to the dance at all, not because I was sad, but because we lived so far away from everything, there was no way to get there at this point.
But another part of me opened up. I vowed never again to let a boy keep me from the dance. I was going to find a dance form that I could do, by myself, whenever I wanted to. It's ironic, I chose belly dance because I saw it as a solo dance form and ultimately created a style that relies on the cooperation of partners.