I'm just a fat gal with a blog and an opinion. Well, lots of opinions.

My First Belly Dance Class


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:

posted under fat, FUN!, inspiration, Reviews
18 Comments to

“My First Belly Dance Class”

  1. On October 26th, 2011 at 4:42 am April D Says:

    YAY on your first class!!! Also, you rock that hip scarf (and that shirt is incredibly fun!) 😀

    I can help on the knees thing! I’ve been belly dancing for over 8 years and always felt it most in my knees too. BUT in the intro class I’ve been taking for the past 6 weeks (yes, even after 8 years taking intro classes here and there is a good thing!) I re-learned my stance and it was explained that you SHOULD be feeling it in your upper thighs and heels! NOT the knees 🙂

    The corrections I had to make: keep your feet shoulder-width apart, facing STRAIGHT forward (not tipped out which puts pressure on your knees), make sure when you bend that your knees do NOT go over your toes and do that pelvis tip (keep it “engaged” heh!). Keep your shoulders up and back (so that the shoulder blades are closer to touching in the back). This should shift your weight back a bit so it is more strain on the stronger thigh muscles instead of the more protection-needing knees.

    It felt awkward at first but I could almost immediately feel the transfer of tension from my knees and left me wondering where this small bit of instruction has been for 8 years of knee-ache!! PLUS it looks really graceful (even though it FELT like I should look like a giant chicken-bird or something!)

    Definitely post again when you go dance again 😀

  2. On October 26th, 2011 at 9:28 am Not Blue at All Says:

    April D: Oh yes, my thighs were killing me, too. Not sure why I didn’t mention that. They were a-blaze with pain the next day. ha-ha! I do think that I need a full length mirror now if I am going to practice this more, and I want to. Thank you, the dress was a hand-me-down from a friend, but originally on I love the print and the fabric. And I love my new hip scarf! I would wear it daily if I could get away with it. Ha-ha! I will update if I have anything to share. Thank you for your tips!

  3. On October 26th, 2011 at 7:57 am JeninCanada Says:

    YAY Bellydancing! Seriously, so much fun. Glad you had a good time and have discovered this wonderful art!

  4. On October 26th, 2011 at 9:29 am Not Blue at All Says:

    JeninCanada: Thank you, yes, it was so fun.

  5. On October 26th, 2011 at 8:05 am Amy Says:


    I don’t normally comment on people’s blogs (and feel free not to approve this comment) but i really wanted to speak to you about the knee issue. I’ve been a belly dancer for 6 years, and its really not supposed to hurt your knees. Definitely not to the extent that its obviously hurt yours – its a very low impact activity.

    So, i just want to urge you to please see someone (doctor, physio) about your knee(s) if you haven’t already, it sounds like something more serious is wrong – torn cartilage would explain the clicking but is very treatable.

    Otherwise, if thats not an option, you can try dancing with a straighter leg, if the bent knee is causing too much stress. American styles seem to have a deeper knee bend than the Egyptian style which is almost a straight-legged dance. Hope you can enjoy belly-dance with less pain next time!

  6. On October 26th, 2011 at 9:31 am Not Blue at All Says:

    Amy: Thank you! And please feel free to comment any old time here. I do have some sort of knee injury, but no medical insurance. I may make an acupuncture appointment and see if they can help. I love eastern medicine for lots of reasons, but not once have I been shamed for my size there either.
    I didn’t know that the American version had a deeper bend. Interesting. I’ll look into that further, modify what I am doing and see if I can find a full length mirror on craigslist so I can see what I’m doing, too. Thanks so much.

  7. On October 26th, 2011 at 11:59 am E. Ai B. Says:

    Lovely! I’ve been looking to see if I can find some plus size belly dancing dvds to ask for for my birthday (no classes here)…such a beautiful art, and I think it’s more beautiful with women who actually have bellies! I do hope your knees feel better. My mother has a permanent knee injury from falling, surgery repaired some of it, but mostly she know has to modify some activities. She tells me that if it starts to hurt her, she knows she has to do things a bit differently. I’m not sure the name of her injury though 🙁

  8. On October 26th, 2011 at 12:02 pm Not Blue at All Says:

    E. Ai B.: There is a plus size belly dance DVD that came out recently, let me see if I can find the name of it. It was supposed to be very diverse.

  9. On October 27th, 2011 at 12:52 am Dee Says:

    You look adorable and so happy. Yay bellydancing, and I hope you can find a way to do it without hurting your knees.

  10. On October 27th, 2011 at 9:11 am Not Blue at All Says:

    Dee: aw, thanks, hun. It is so much fun.

  11. On October 27th, 2011 at 8:16 am Amy Says:

    Cool, some people don’t respond well to unsolicited advice!

    Re the knee bend: I’ve realised that American teaching – even of “cabaret” styles, is quite influenced by the American Tribal Style (ATS) which is a much more grounded and “earthy” dance, and has more of an emphasis on a bent knee. My teacher was taught by someone who had been taught by American teachers, and she didn’t realise that the knee bend was more pronounced until she went to study in Egypt and realised that its its a more straight-legged dance style. The knee is still bent, but less so.

    Re the knee: i have a torn cartilage in my right knee. It clicks and makes funny noises and sometimes hurts like hell. I’ve had surgery on it before, but tore it again (its genetically malformed) and am currently putting off surgery on it for various reasons. If you can’t afford surgery, i’ve found a lot of pain relief from steroid shots into the knee joint. I have no idea how much things cost in the US (i’m from South Africa) but in my case it was about 50 times less than the surgery (per injection).

  12. On October 27th, 2011 at 9:13 am Not Blue at All Says:

    Amy: Thank you for your advice. No doubt a shot of anything would be cheaper than surgery. I will look into that…do you know what kind of steroid was used?

  13. On October 28th, 2011 at 3:48 am Amy Says:

    It was celestone, which is like a slow acting cortisone. Might not be appropriate for your injury, but probably worth asking about anyway.

  14. On October 28th, 2011 at 8:47 am Not Blue at All Says:

    Amy: Thanks.

  15. On October 29th, 2011 at 7:01 pm Kath Says:

    Looks like you had an absolute blast. It’s a shame it hurt your dodgy knee though.

  16. On October 30th, 2011 at 10:57 am Not Blue at All Says:

    Kath: Oh we did, and yeah, it’s feeling better now though. Thanks.

  17. On November 2nd, 2011 at 8:27 am Nikki Says:

    So fun! I just started teaching YogaDance class and am planning a series for fatties. Dance is an awesome celebration of body love!

  18. On November 2nd, 2011 at 10:45 am Not Blue at All Says:

    Nikki: Yoga Dance? Wow, haven’t heard of it, but I imagine it’s quite a workout. Dance is in my soul, it will never leave me. Thanks.

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