I have two passions besides writing—yoga and Raks Sharqi (belly dancing). I’ve talked about yoga on numerous blogs, so today I am going to let my other passion, shimmy.
First off, the Hollywood legend is that belly dancers were harem slaves, and they danced to seduce the Sultan. While part of that may be true—wives in the harem may have danced to seduce the Sultan (who didn’t need much seducing)—that is not the origin of Raks Sharqi. Sometimes, it is called Egyptian Belly Dancing, but that is also based on the Hollywood legend.
I’ll keep this brief—belly dancing is thousands of years old, and it originated all over the Middle East. At parties—yes, the women were segregated from the men, but they were not demeaned. Instead, they talked, ate, sang and danced together, expressing their joy of life and sisterhood. Some women moved from dancing at parties into the professional world, and this is the origins of Raks Sharqi.
Oh, and can I add right now? Belly dancers are not strippers. Clothes are not removed during the performance. Sometimes, a veil is used as a prop, and it may be discarded, but the “costume” remains on. Well, except for the time the hooks on the back of my dance bra popped during a group routine. If you really want the details, ask me.
Every year in May, belly dancers from all over the world participate in Shimmy Mob, dancing in support of women’s shelters or crisis centers. I believe over 170 cities were registered for this year and some cities have more than one team.
What happens is really cool, and you can join in too. Dancers submit videos of dance routines, and one routine is selected. Everyone learns that routine, and then on the appointed day, they flashmob the routine. Dancers from cities all over the world participate, and the routine is danced on city streets, in farmers’ markets, in malls, and even on beaches.
How can you help? Well, first you have to discover if there is a Shimmy Mob chapter in your area, and then sign up. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never danced in your life. The routine is kept simple for beginners or can be mildly adapted if the group is more experienced.
While you are probably going to be nervous going to your first rehearsal, belly dancers are wonderful, accepting women who will greet you with a smile and help you learn the routine. And after your first performance the joy that fills you will be amazing. You will have learned and performed, been accepted into the sisterhood of belly dancers and have supported an incredibly important cause.
Here’s ShimmyMob’s link if you want to check it out. http://www.shimmymob.com/
Sadly, there’s no belly dancing in my latest hot romance, Darien’s Desire.
It’s complicated is not only her relationship status, but the definition of Erika Bailey’s life. She loves managing her drag queen club in Bangkok, Thailand, but her rock star boyfriend resides in North Carolina. And to top it off, her father threatens she must stay away from Darien or lose the Pink Flamingo. Does she protect her club or her love?
Darien Scott, Grammy award-winning international superstar, wants nothing more than to wake up in the arms of Erika, the woman he loves, but contractual obligations force him to exotic video shoots and an isolated movie set with one of Hollywood’s sexiest stars.
With the feeding frenzy of social media trending every aspect of Darien’s life—real or not—it’s hard for Erika to know the truth. Will she be able to see through the lies and trust Darien? Or will evidence from damaging Internet rumors condemn their relationship?
Follow me: @daryldevore