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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

My husband had a gig at a burlesque show last weekend. I would be lying to you if I told you that I was enthusiastic about this. I was going to go – I never miss a chance to hear him play – but I was sort of picturing in my mind the scene from The Graduate where Dustin Hoffman took Katharine Ross to a strip club in order to demonstrate to her what a tool he was so he could continue getting it on with her mom, and she sat and silently cried while a stripper with dead eyes swung her tassels in her face. I tried to beg off, but he wouldn’t hear it. Even at the last moment – when he was setting up his gear and I was driving around looking for legal parking, I thought, “I can just keep driving. I can drive around for three hours and come back and pick him up when it’s over. He won’t even notice I’m gone, on accounta the booby factor.” I thought that. But I didn’t carry through. I parked – took a deep breath - and walked in alone – a middle-aged frumpy suburban housewife – internally gasping for air like the proverbial fish out of water.

Women, drag queens, and drag kings were milling about in various stages of costuming. I focused my attention on the bartender. She’d see me through this. She was fully dressed in street clothes. Looking at her didn’t make me uncomfortable. I intended to look at her a lot. The pre-show beers were going down easy.

The emcees took the stage and announced the first act. I turned to face the stage, gripping my long neck like a life preserver. The first young lady shimmied onto the stage in full Carmen Miranda inspired regalia. Tall, slim, blonde – these are three words you would have never chosen to describe her. And yet…and yet… as she confidently strutted her stuff (and systematically removed her ruffles) the crowd went crazy. Here was a woman with a build very similar to my own, and she owned these people.

Act after act, it was the same. REAL women – with bumps and lumps and stretch marks and all manner of “imperfections” were able to whip the crowd into a frenzy. Tall women, short women, thin women, fat women, white women, black women, Latina women, male women – it didn’t seem to matter. The only thing they had in common was an attitude. Not one pair of dead eyes among ‘em. Dawn broke on marble head. Perhaps all that talk about CONFIDENCE being the REAL aphrodisiac had legs.

I left that show with a new outlook, a new attitude, and a new swagger in my step. Scratch that. It was more than a swagger. It was a strut.

Before the evening was out I’d spoken to a few of the performers. I spoke of my admiration for what they’d done and they were gracious. Two of them told me I was hot. A week before – hell – three hours before – I would’ve laughed (to beat them to it) and thought they were making fun of me. In that moment? I simply said, “Thank you.”

Then I signed up for belly dancing classes.

Because sexy doesn’t have age and size restrictions. It doesn’t have many restrictions at all, come to think of it. After this experience, I was able to accept that all that talk about it being a dance form that embraced women regardless of their size or age might actually not just be lip service. I don’t imagine that it will be a source of any true creativity any time soon – too much to learn first! – but it DID get my inner gypsy excited about crocheting hip scarves…

But there was more…

I started thinking about the way I present myself. I try very hard to fit societal standards for someone of my age and size. I fear being accused of trying to be something that I’m not. Well, the truth is – by responding to those fears I’ve morphed into someone I never intended to be. And that was all changed, due to the unlikely bump and grind influence of a burlesque troupe. Whoda thunk? Look out world – I shall be donning a lot more colors. And that’s just for starters. Because I’m not afraid of me anymore.

Lady "VaVaVaVoom" T.


  1. Lady T...congratulations on rediscovering your VaVaVoom! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say...or as we say here at KCSA...Beauty is in the eye of the Beerholder! LOL

    I believe in the theory of SEXY=Csquared(2): Creativity & Confidence

    Remember, just like the sound VaVaVoom, it's the engine that makes the car run, not the body!

  2. Great read. Maybe the part of overcoming fear of (whatever holds us back) to not to think outside the box, but realize that there is no box.

    Don' know if I'll be belly dancing anytime soon; however, I have seen hook belly dance and we all quite enjoyed the show.

    Sir Bowie of Greenbriar

  3. Hey! Does acknowledging my inner hoochie mama make me ineligible for 'Lady' status?

    Lady? T.

  4. yep youre Lady T to us..:))

    Loved your Blog.. best one for a long time.. full of enlightenedment. :) Raqs Shaqui and Belly Dancing is very very popular here in the UK..and i have a dear friend in the North who teaches it as a living.

    if you take a look at this website you will see the scores of websites espousing Bellydancing here...and you may well gain more inspiration and indeed pass on some of the Costume designs to your new friends. The women here love doing it as they all find it so liberating and fun and it fills them with self confidence... and as you say the audiences cheer and whoop here too.:)

    So here's to your new venture...and the first time that you step out on stage in your chiffon and bangles..

    and Sir Bowie...thats not Hooky dancing...that his natural gait LOL

    Sir Dayvd of O

  5. Lady T...Inner Hoochie Mama makes you the PERFECT KCSA Lady! Sir D is right...I once made $40 in tips by Belly Dancing at a Greek Dinner Theater in Dayton, Ohio, much to the surprise of my hosts who thought they where setting me up for embarrassment. The joke and tab was on them! LOL

    Belly Good Sir!

  6. Thanks for sharing your evening with us...great description of how we feel as we go into new territory.

    Lady Gwendolyn has been belly dancing for a long time...maybe she's reading the blog again and can share stories.

    Funny how one choice can lead to another and finding out more about who you really are inside.

    Being open to new ideas and opportunities is what will keep us young no matter what happens to these middle-aged bodies!

    Lady Suz, who started wearing red a few years ago after 40 years of wearing blue

  7. Lady T... seems they do have Male Belly dancing.:)
    Take a look at his costume, gives a whole new meaning to the term 'trouser snake'

    sir D of O...who fancies he might be able to manage that...with a couple of beers in him:)