Home' Nova National : September 2011 Contents 23
exposing myself in a kindergarten. And
pulling my skirt off (again, by accident)
during a stage performance. And cleverly
performing to AC/DC in jeans that slid
determinedly towards the floor. And....
well, I’ve mostly been decently covered.
Every dancer has a few costume
malfunctions. No biggie. We’ll just never
mention them again.
It’s just that I found a costume style
that suited me, and the only thing that
changed were the colours and the beading.
A set of music that suited my fluffy,
boppy style. Lots of Turkish pop where I
could shimmy, jump and be cheeky.
All the while, I grew stale inside. Ho
hum, another Saturday night, another gig.
Never mind that I had a job that other
women dreamed of. I’ll let you into a
secret. It’s not all tips in Greek restaurants,
and dress ups for big girls. There are also
the freezing cold Melbourne nights when
the gig begins at 10.30pm, and you drive
an hour to get there, can’t find a parking
spot, and then making your way to the
party through the rain. Getting undressed
in a freezing cold bathroom, right down to
skimpy costume and bare feet, with only
a chiffon veil to keep you warm. Hearing
your bones creak as you try to warm up.
Then making your appearance to music
you can’t hear over the television, people
talking, and a large man in a wheelchair
blocking the hallway.
The real thrill is when everyone
continues talking, someone pushes past
you to get at the wine coolers, and a small
child keeps skipping up and smacking
you on the behind. A nasty mid-life crisis
man joins you on the dance postage
stamp (no way could it be classified a
dance floor) and wants to put his spare
change down your cleavage. Your music
is abruptly replaced by the Macarena. There
is reluctance for the host to pay you for
your appearance. An hour’s drive home,
sweat drying on your body.
Then there are the dream jobs. Where
you’re anticipated with excitement,
applauded, your veil floats like magic, you
can do no wrong. You flirt, you fly, and
the time passes in seconds.
The dancing, the teaching, the cost-
umes – I gave it all away. Burned out, tired,
body aching. I settled into yoga, reading,
and gardening. My stomach expanded, my
chest dropped, and I can’t blame it ALL
on menopause. Even my hormones went
crazy and let’s just say everything went
south for the winter.
I tried going back to dance class,
too soon. I tried dancing at home. I love
dancing to pop music, country music,
anything but belly dance music. I’m
perverse that way. Even Johnny Cash or
the Spice Girls couldn’t get me enthused.
I schlepped around the front room, not
even exciting the dog. I’m sure he was
thinking “you suck”.
I longed to be a long, sinewy, snaky
belly dance fusion dancer like Rachel Brice
or Sharon Kihara. All twiney, with sharp
hip locks, chest pops, and a mysterious air
I’d never possessed in my life. I secretly
wanted to dread my hair, sport too much
eyeliner, and wear the sort of goth pants
and motorbike boots that would have
grown men move out of my way in bars,
out of respect and fear.
I am short, round, have short red
hair, spectacles, a wide, open face, a big
smile, and freckles. I don’t do mystery, and
smoke and mirrors. But, oh, how I long to.
So, I am reinventing myself as a dancer.
I have the moves, I just have to slow them
down, add some sharpness, some rolls,
some surprise to my dance.
And then, bliss, there’s the costuming.
All dark and torn and gothic. Steampunk
and tribal all rolled together. Bare feet
with striped footless tights, a set of muslin
petticoats, a tight bodice. Industrial steam-
punk jewellery, heavy kohl on the eyes,
and, if I can find a source, a black and red
and purple dreadlock wig. Add some
reddish-black lipstick, and no one would
ever know me.
Gone is Miss Sunshine, Miss Cute.
Who wants to be “cute” at nearly 50? I’ll
settle for scary, mysterious, and bikies
fearing me. Add some funky music, and
I’ll be ready to roll. By the time you read
this, I will have debuted this look at the
world science fiction convention in Reno.
Maybe cowboys will run from the sight of
me. When you’ve been nice all your life,
it’s good fun to reinvent yourself as
© NOVA SEPTEMBER 2011
‘I don’t do mystery, and smoke and mirrors. But, oh, how I long to.’
‘Industrial steam-punk jewellery, heavy kohl on the eyes, and, if I can
find a source, a black and red and purple dreadlock wig.’
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