Saturday afternoon, my good friend Jeanette and I headed to Oakland for Raks Africa and Full Figured Entertainment’s first Belly Dance Class. We were both excited, and maybe a little nervous, maybe. It was such a great deal, we just couldn’t resist! I mean, for 25 bucks we got a two hours class with the amazing ladies of Raks Africa, a hip scarf, a bindi, a mix CD for more belly dancing and 5 bucks off our next FFE club night…since we were already planning on going to the club this Friday to celebrate both of our birthdays, well, this just worked out perfectly!
The class consisted of twelve “full figured” women, plus the two instructors and Tigress of FFE fame. The venue was at this cool restaurant called, “The Fat Lady” no less! Anyway, we were all getting our scarves and bindis and then began the stretching and warm up. The ladies of Raks Africa informed us of the history of Belly Dance, which I found particularly interesting. But I do love history, so go figure. Then we began learning some actual moves!
One thing I didn’t realize until we began actually dancing was that Belly Dance puts all of your weight, or most of it, on your knees. I’ve been struggling with a knee injury since July and keep re-injuring it due to living on the 2nd floor and dancing and other such life things. Boo! My knee was clicking during warm up so I had a feeling that this wasn’t going to go as smoothly as I’d hoped. Oh well. You begin with slightly bent knees, feet shoulder-width apart, and your pelvis tucked forward…I loved how they explained the tuck! It’s like zipping up a pair of tight jeans…THAT Tuck! Ha-ha!
We begin with the shimmy and some hip bumping and incorporate an “Egyptian walk” and the classic grapevine with a hip bump and kick in it, then some double hip bumps and shimmies and we start over from there. It was all set to a version of this song (but it had a rap break it in I loved):
SO MUCH FUN!!! The beat of the song if from Kool And The Gang’s “Let’s Go Dancing”…did I say that this was so much fun?
And now I am finding excuses to shimmy and bump! I’m doing it in the car, I’m doing it to Nikki Minaj’s “Super Bass” and I am doing it right now!!! Ha-ha! I’m hooked, what can I say?! Have jingly scarf, will go to where the music is!!!
I HIGHLY recommend checking out a belly dance class if you’re at all interested, even just for fun. But I STRONGLY recommend, if you’re in the bay area, to go to the next FFE and Raks Africa class! I am not sure when that will be, but it is worth the wait. These ladies understand how fat bodies move and what they need! We had lots of ice water available, restrooms right there, napkins for face dabbing, chairs for breaks, A/C and open windows for air flow…they just get it! I have never taken a belly dance class before, so I don’t know how different this one was, but I felt fabulous the entire time.
Having said that, my knees are very very angry with me. I have been icing them on and off ever since returning home from the class. Whew! Parts of my lower back and lower abdominal muscles are sore, but not unbearably so. Just my knees. My ankles hurt the first day, but are fine now. It’s a lot of work on your knees. And I haven’t sweated that much in years! I don’t knwo why, but I didn’t think it’d be the full workout that it was. I’m so glad that I did it though. You can go as slow or as fast as you like, you can certainly modify moves or transitions, but in the end, my knees are fucked, yo! I should have known this going in, it makes sense, but whatever. Totally worth it! I just hope my knees are feeling better by Friday!
Oh! Jeanette was kind enough to snap a pic of me in my hip scarf and bindi after class before we left: