UPDATE: The winners are…Katherine Horvath and Peggy Fowler!
I like dancers. Those beautiful movements, the expressions, the costumes, the emotion, and yes, the bodies, too. Like any art form, dance is a way of communicating. A story is told, and I love stories. I wrote three fantasy novels about three dancing half-sisters and how they lived in a city full of scoundrels, wizards, and monsters.
There was a time, about fifteen years back, when I went to dance performances, mainly belly dancing. That habit bled to death for various reasons (time, a relationship, et cetera). Usually, I went to a festival in which various acts performed. I learned that there are also male belly dancers. And apparently, I have the belly for it!
Once there was a single female performance in the Regentes Theatre in the Dutch city of Den Haag (I’m a Dutchie for those who didn’t know). The theatre is located in an old swimming pool, and it still has a lot of the original 1920s Art Deco elements.
Most people think that belly dancing is a bit of shaking with the belly, pelvis, breasts, and butt, and yes, those elements are there for sure, but of course, it is much more. Belly dancing consists of all kinds of movements and traditions, from various cultures. There is also room for modern dance types from jazz ballet to house. I once saw a Russian dancer do her belly dance to house music, and it was totally worth it.
But back to the performance I witnessed… I sat in the front row, partly for room for my legs, partly to get a good look. There was no partition; the dance floor started immediately. For those of us in the front row, our feet rested on the dance floor.
Dark room, a single spot. A beautiful, tall dark-haired lady entered. Lebanese? Something like that. Melancholic music began, the dance began. Her performance stood for her life story, or the story of her family. After all these years, the details are getting a bit vague. Anyways, that night she combined belly dancing with modern experimental dance.
She was good. Love, marriage, children, quarrels, loneliness, hope, the threat of war and flight, passion… She brought everything to life, caught in the spotlight that followed her. The audience was carried away, without words, without explanation, just by the enchantment of the music and her dance.
The light was now red in color, the music more challenging, her movements voluptuous. A scene in a nightclub from a strip show? Yes, something like that. Lust. Sex. She wiggled her butt, looked over her shoulders at her audience.
Swallow. Yes. Good art plays with your emotions. Art or pleasure, and she used both to play with us.
Big me, short hair, broad shoulders, a head like a rock. Knife scars running from my right ear to my chin. There I was, sitting in the front row, massive between the frail ladies and wiry gentlemen. Who go to dance performances? Mainly dancers, professional, hobby, former and whatever dancers. A dancing public. I was the very clear exception. I’m not a dancer. I’m a writer.
She looked at me. I looked back, appreciative.
She came over to me with swaying her hips.
Something snorted inside me. It came out like a grin. Nostrils open, muscles tense. Control is nice, but feeling the inner beast is fun, too.
At the last moment, less than half a step away, she turned and sat down.
Her butt on my lap, her legs over mine.
There, trapped together in the spot. Beauty and the Beast. Agility exposed on that massive hump of meat and bones.
She turned, squirmed, she danced while sitting.
I kept my hands at my sides. If it had been just the two of us, I would have grabbed and played with her. But there was an audience, so I didn’t, and she knew I would not. Damn, women aren’t crazy. She knew and enjoyed the power she had.
Me, too. Standing on the edge, just not letting go of the beast… That’s nice, too.
She jumped up again; the lap dance was over. She threw me a kiss, and I returned it with a grin. Like a twisting flame, she turned farther up the floor, on her way to the next part of her life story.
Jump after it! Stamp exaggerated, big gestures, big strides. A troll and a fairy. Do it! She would whirl around me, and I would chase her like a golem.
No, I didn’t. It was her performance. Not mine, I told myself. Besides, I wasn’t that brave. No. I didn’t dare, although deep in my heart I wished I had.
In the end, the performance was over.
I went home happy, melancholy, full of creative energy.
Once I went to dance performances.
One day, we’ll go again.
We? Yes. She and I. No, not her, not the dancing lady. Another special lady, but that’s another story.
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About the Author
Jaap Boekestein is an award-winning Dutch writer of science fiction, fantasy, horror, thrillers, and whatever takes his fancy. He usually writes his stories in the coffeehouses of his native The Hague, the Netherlands. Over the years he has made his living as a bouncer, working for a detective agency, and the Justice Department.