SLICE OF LIFE
This year I will turn fifty. It’s a strange age, this golden age. So, where exactly do I fit in? I’m far from my youthful teens and the freedom of my twenties. My so-so thirties are long gone, and now I’m kissing goodbye to my over the hill forties. I’ve aged, that’s for certain, but I’m not old. At times I feel I deserve a great deal of respect for surviving the insanity of youth, motherhood and now becoming a grandparent. But most of the world views me as someone too mature to be capable of having fresh ideas, and too young to deserve anything but a minimal amount of respect.
Then there’s the upcoming monumental occasion—my actual birthday. Do I hope it passes quietly into the night? Do I play it down or ignore the day completely?
I’ve decided there will be a party to celebrate the beauty and power of aging. I’ve invited family and friends for a night of food, music and entertainment. Announcing my plans was met with nearly unanimous surprise. For you see, my golden birthday will also be my debut as a belly dancer.
The Party Countdown
The six-week mark. My instructor and I have selected a song and begun the choreography. After class I look over my “To Do” list and wonder if senility has set in over night. How can I accomplish all this, much less expect not to make a fool of myself dancing with pros? I will have two months of lessons compared to women with a minimum of six years experience. I am truly out of my mind. Still, the crazy woman has always kept her word. Onward I go.
Five weeks out. The room is reserved. The invitations are in the mail and I’m working on the evening’s dance program. Menu and decoration choices are set and y outfit has been ordered. A three-quarter wig and makeup are now among my possessions. I’ve never worn a wig and haven’t applied makeup in years. I fell like Sandra Bullock in “Miss Congeniality”, totally inept at the girly stuff.
Four weeks left. I go from one to two hours of class each week plus my daily at-home practice. My costume arrives and the skirt and veil do not a match the bra and belt well. This outfit becomes two after I make the additional pieces to complete each one. Both numbers will now have their own outfit. Great, but much more work, time, and expense.
With three weeks left I’m still crazy. But I am getting more comfortable with my new insanity. I have also been tanning, which aids in hiding my spider veins and building my self-esteem. The overwhelming urge to cry after every class in fading and I have accepted the fact that I am definitely not a prodigy in the dance department—but I’m doing all right.
The last two weeks are consumed with the endless practice of every move and rehearsal of each number. All the while, my lazy muscles are screaming at me through a mixture of aches, pains and popping joints, where even ordinary actions feel like expert gymnast moves. I have more performers dancing in the show aside from myself. Amy, aka “Amaya” is the youngest dancer at thirty-six. She’s been dancing for ten years and teaching for seven. She’s a blonde Barbie doll from Georgia. She is incredibly talented and works as a scientist. Sandi, aka “Shamar” is sixty-two years young, a lifetime dancer and instructor from London. She has appeared on “The Benny Hill Show” and “Dr. Who”. She is a high spirited, sexy and funny lady. Toni, aka “Sukara” I fifty years young and is from Chicago. She has danced for six years and is a petite, dark haired beauty that fills the room with her enthusiasm and elegance. I am truly blessed to share the stage with these amazing and supportive women.
The Golden Celebration
By 6:00 pm everything is set including the dancers, but not all of the guests have arrived so the show begins late. I am a nervous wreck trying to convince myself that this is all for fun, yet praying that I don’t embarrass my husband, family or friends. What if I trip on my veil, or get tangled up in it and lose my wig? Do I remember the dances? Breathe, slow deep breaths—or maybe a glass of wine!
Amaya and I danced our duet and it went well considering my nerves. We made a few mistakes, but no one but the two of us knew. Shamar and Sukara followed us with a duet, and then Amaya performed a solo cane dance followed by the three of them in an ensemble piece. It was fantastic!
After a short intermission, Sukara, Shamar and Amaya performed unique and beautiful traditional Belly Dances. My solo was the final performance. I chose a tribal fusion dance combining Belly Dancing with other tribal dance moves. Tribal costumes aren’t as glitzy and I performed it to an African tribal number. By this time I had relaxed a bit and enjoyed dancing. Wine is wonderful! After my number, we all danced throughout the room with the guests. It turned out to be a wonderful night and everyone had a great time. None of which would have been possible without the love and support of my family. A friend said it was the most unique birthday party he’d ever attended and he thought it was great to include something you really loved to do. For me, the experience was incredible. All the laughter and the pride on my husband and family’s faces were worth all the work. I was asked to make a wish before blowing out the blinding light of fifty candles, surrounded by the special people in my life who were all there to celebrate and support me. How do you top that? You all made my wishes come true!
Author’s Note: This “Slice of Life” was my 50th birthday. It was an accomplishment of two dreams; not only did I dance but this story was published in the 15th issue of “Shimmy Magazine”. Visit them at www.shimmyspiritofdance.com. The original story date: August 2010. The top photo is part of my outfit, and the second photo of me was taken by my daughter, Tia Taymar.