Have you ever looked at a crowd of women and thought how wonderful they would look if they weren’t dressed in baggy jogging trousers or the usual ‘T’ shirt and jeans? Not that some women don’t look great in jeans, however I think all women can look really good in their belly dancing clothes. Some look better in Baladi dresses, while others look wonderful in two pieces.
The transformation starts when a woman arrives at the door of a hall where a Hafla is to be held. The music is playing, so her walk changes, already she wants to dance. As she walks across the floor her facial expression changes and the apprehension mounts. She is still in her normal outdoor clothes and has yet to change. Most days she is housewife, mother, shop assistant, office worker or general factotum for all and sundry. She may not be pretty any more or ever have been. Today is special she is going to become a butterfly, so beautiful that it will have a wonderful effect on the rest of her weary and drab existence.
She has chosen her costume carefully, to suit and flatter her figure, she has a great excuse to wear as much jewellery as she likes, including that really ostentatious necklace given to her as a Christmas present four or five years ago and pushed to the back of the drawer as being far too gaudy to go with anything. That was before she started to dance. Now she wonders if it is big enough!
Our lady emerges from the cocoon of the changing room and spreads her gossamer butterfly wings, now she is fabulous. Her makeup is carefully applied to show her mood and flatter her costume which features her best waist shaping corset, her walk has changed yet again and she floats across the floor to join a few friends she has made at earlier Hafla’s. A group of these ethereal creatures start to dance, they move either to the rhythm or the melody in subtle undulating movements, becoming one with the music and finding that inner peace that comes with the dance.
I have seen women so tired from work, find that little bit of extra energy to get themselves to a Hafla or even a class, suddenly lift themselves through the dance, to another mental platform where no tiredness exists. It takes away the stress of every day life. This is something we all need. It seems the more technology we have to ‘save labour’ the more stress we have.
I am happy to be a teacher of this beautiful dance, I hope I have been able to bring some pleasure into some of these women’s lives and relieve their stress.
Years ago, women (and men) had to dress for dinner or balls, these are now pretty infrequent and even when we go out for a meal we tend to wear mostly casual clothes, so we don’t stick out like a sore thumb in the restaurant. I am certain it is good for us to dress up in our finery from time to time, to make the effort. I feel that if we are sloppy in our dress we can also become sloppy in our minds and full blown depression sets in. By the same token I know some men who take forever to get ready to go out somewhere, and still look exactly the same before and after. Still if it makes them feel better going through the routine, then that’s great.
Next time you are at a Hafla, just watch the women transform themselves, you will do it yourself, I know I do. It’s just a bit sad when they do the Cinderella bit and go home. However they do go home with their spirits renewed. Take a look here for more information on organising a Hafla.