Belly Rolls

It was time to set my repressed inner goddess free.
By Ruth Karpinski

How did I ever talk myself into this?” I mumbled, pulling into the parking lot of the local high school. Earlier that day, I never would have found a place to park; but tonight, few were bold enough to go where I dared, and I found a spot right up front. With a sigh, I willed myself out of the car and made my way toward the gymnasium. The familiar music of my Middle Eastern roots with its exotic, tribal lure kept me moving bravely in the direction of the door.

I decided to try a community belly dancing class largely because of its touted potential to unleash the “inner goddess” in women who may otherwise struggle with a faltering selfimage. It had recently occurred to me that my own inner goddess had been repressed for a while, and it was time to set her free.

Entering the mirrored room dressed in yoga pants and a baggy white T-shirt, I stood out in a sea of flowing fringed skirts, coin-laden sashes, and bare bellies. I quickly noticed that only a few of those bellies were totally flat—a definite plus.

“Let yourself go,” my teacher, Sarina, instructed while expertly moving to the music. “Remember that you are creating a piece of art.” I refrained from laughing as I tried to follow her lead. Soon, we all became a room of brightly colored sculptures moving to music—some of us more awkwardly than others, but artistically nonetheless.

After class, Sarina sold coined hip scarves and finger symbols called zils to add some more jingle to the room. I bought both. Once home, I made sure no one was looking before I stood at the full-length mirror in my room and attempted a simple undulation I had just learned.

Whoa. I had a ways to go.

Lifting up my baggy T-shirt, I revealed a belly that had “danced” through two pregnancies and 40 years. I gave it a once over. And with the drop of a hip, the inner goddess in me vowed to let some of it show at the next class.