Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published August 2nd 2013
Shake those tail feathers
Shake, rattle, and roll with Lola at South Mitcham Community Centre. Every Thursday evening between 5.30pm-6.30pm, Lola runs a belly dancing class in the main hall for just £4. Not only is it a great way to give those stomach muscle a workout, but it is chance to socialise and have a bit of harmless fun.
Bring a scarf, tassels, and a bit of jingle.
When I first arrived, everyone looked quite inconspicuous; no one would have guessed these sensible looking women were on their way to shake their booty. It was not long, however, before I heard something. What was it? Bells? Almost, but not quite. I watched the women rustle through their handbags, and just like a magician pulling out a long hanky from his sleeve, out came a series of colourful scarves, all adorned with jingly coins and sequins.
While everyone got ready, Lola put on the music. The traditional Arabic beats and percussion instruments really helped create a rhythm, and the accents in the music tell you when to wiggle those hips to the left and when to wiggle them to the right.
I was impressed by just how good the dancers were; Lola called everyone up to the floor, and without a word of instruction, they performed an entire routine. There were two others who were also new to the experience, so after the first dance, Lola took them aside and showed them the steps.
It did not take me long to realise that the class's dancing prowess was a bit of a rouse. That first performance they made had been practised for several weeks. I was now about to witness what happens when a new dance is introduced. Here is a ten step guide:
1. Lola demonstrates the moves. 2. The class ask questions. 3. Lola demonstrates again. 4. They do a step through without the music. 5. Lola turns the music on. 6. Everyone starts dancing.
7. People forget which way is left and which way is right.
8. Chaos ensues.
9. Everyone laughs.
Despite the initial confusion, it is clear that all the practice pays off in the end. After the umpteenth attempt, they finally got through the entire routine. Big claps all round.
To end the session, Lola had the class perform another already mastered routine. I think this is a great way to structure the hour. By beginning and ending with a dance that the class are familiar with and can do, it keeps everyone motivated and in good spirits. They might have struggled with the new steps, but it feels good to finish on a high.