I am the bookish type. But sometimes I like to dance around in my kitchen to Beyonce. We all do, right? No? Please tell me we all do.
Anyway, when I am a bit drunk, or bored or sad or happy, I like to dance around to Beyonce. Usually by myself, occasionally with a girlfriend or future/current sex partner as witness.
When I saw the advert for belly dancing classes, it appealed to what I guess is the same instinct. I signed up for a six-week course, bought a scarf with jangly bits to tie around my hips, and diligently took a bus to a community hall every Tuesday after work.
I loved the belly dancing class. I was probably not the best in the class but I was definitely not the worst! I downloaded the songs and practised the routines at home in my kitchen, occasionally for polite girlfriends, who I’m sure were truly fascinated by my new expertise in doing a figure-of-eight with my pelvis. Not to mention my new desire to talk about it at every possible opportunity.
Most of all, I loved the teacher. We will call her Gala, like Gala Dali (her name in real life is very much like Gala but is not Gala – have I mentioned that this is a true story?).
Gala was probably in her late forties, but with the air of somebody who has a superhuman pelvic floor and probably has sex with twenty-two-year-olds. She was tall, with long red hair and tattoos. She wore the sort of swishy skirts and clanking bracelets that one would reasonably expect in a belly dancing teacher.
At class one week, she informed us all that she would be hosting a one-day workshop on women’s sexuality and empowerment. I was IN. Obviously.
I turned up on a Saturday morning and prepared to feel empowered. This was going to be so great.
To cut a long story short – it wasn’t great at all. Amid a load of other total bullshit, we all had to dance around in circles while Gala barked strange commands at us.
‘Dance like a prostitute!’
Everyone else in the room ramped up the sexy. My dancing, which had previously been pretty joyous and energetic, kind of slowed down. I affected a surly expression and popped a hip in a grudging fashion. I did a half-hearted sexy grind and made a sad face.
Gala pulled me aside.
‘What are you doing?’
I was happy to explain. I was quite pleased with myself. I was feeling very ‘method’.
‘Well, I was thinking about how sad I would feel if I were forced to work as a prostitute and dance around. It also made me feel quite cross. I thought it came out rather well in my dancing. That was definitely how a sad prostitute would dance.’
‘You are ruining today for everyone,’ she informed me.
Next, we were instructed to dance ‘like a queen’.
‘What are you doing now?’ Gala asked me, visibly losing patience.
‘Well, after our previous conversation, I didn’t really feel like dancing. And I thought – I’m a queen, I don’t have to.’
‘You have a very bad energy,’ she told me.
In response, I told her she could go fuck herself. Then I dramatically stormed out.
Well, I mean, obviously I didn’t. I am the bookish type, remember? I meekly endured the rest of the horrible day, paid my money and thanked her on the way out. Then I went home and cried.
Then I got drunk and danced around the kitchen with my girlfriends to Beyonce. Like a queenly prostitute.
* it occurred to me only as I was writing it, that I have written about this experience before. (Shit, am I running out of amusing anecdotes?) I was out running the other day, and thought this would make a funny story. It’s only recently that I am seeing the funny side of this incident, TBH – previously I was pretty freaked out by it, which you can read about here.