1. To be revolutionary.
Let's face it. To be a belly dancer is political. (Don't believe me? Google "identity politics in belly dance", read Asharah's essay on white belly dancers, or simply research the history of gender in the Middle East). Whether you like it or not, you are making a statement when you perform. And, I suggest you be clear on what that statement is. Mine is clear most days. I belly dance because I want to express myself sensually and powerfully on my own terms, not the cultural sexist terms I have been taught. This is a transmutation of poison to power. And, it feels damn good.
2. To create happy chemicals in your brain.
If I do not belly dance, I feel depressed. Trust me, I have tried to take a break, and BAM! within a few weeks I am a weepy mess. Research shows us over and over again that when we exercise a magnificent firework display of endorphins and dopamine fires away in our brains. For me, when I dance, it feels like the big bang. A whole new universe opens up in my mind. I feel like absolutely anything is possible.
3. To stay sane, especially for mothers.
When you go to class or take some time to practice, this is officially your "me-time." Self care cannot be over-emphasized in today's manic-paced world. For mommy's, if you do not take care of yourself first, they will seriously suck the life out of you. They don't mean to, it is just programmed into their little brains to do it. So, take care of yourself so you don't become resentful of the most amazing job you will ever have on the planet.
4. To feel beautiful.
I know this one is totally cliche. And, sort of obvious. But, I love it. All of us struggle with self acceptance, body image, and self worth issues sometimes because we live in an image-oriented culture that promotes narrowly defined and nearly unattainable ideals of beauty. So, we either succumb to the bullshit OR we learn that we have to define our own ideas of beauty and fight like she-tigers to feel it. I have had the honor of witnessing women transform. As they stand before the mirror sliding their hips into an infinity shape for the first time, they get this little glimmer of self-love in their eye. That is beautiful.
5. For the badass community.
I don't know about every single belly dance tribe, but I've met quite a few across the country now, and I think it is safe to say that primarily badass women are attracted to this art form. The weak, bitchy ones don't last long. Belly dance is for women who appreciate other women. It takes hard work, dedication, attention to detail, sensuality, passion, humility, confidence and grace (to name a few) to be a belly dancer. The women who are up for that are usually totally freaking cool to be around.
6. For the badass costumes.
Do I really need to say anything else here?
7. To burn out old baggage.
Sort of like the happy chemicals and sanity reasons above, belly dance is great for burning out old sorrows. Louise Hay says we hold emotional pain in our bodies. The hips are supposed to be the storehouse of the deepest emotions. Belly dance gets in those hips and not only opens them, but strengthens them too. Because, as we have humbly learned, our suffering is also our strength.
8. To heal from a divorce (or break-up).
I cannot tell you how many divorcees I have had in my classes over the past 15 years. Let's just say I feel like a divorce dance therapist. When marriages end, people grieve the loss. Part of the healing process is acceptance and self love. Belly dance helps women get their groove back. It is sensual and sexy, but also dignified and powerful.
9. Fun fitness that doesn't totally bore you out of your mind.
I like fitness with a purpose, besides just to look good. Dance is the perfect combination. You get in shape while also learning a new skill and creating something beautiful you can offer others. Dance tells your ego-vain-monster to suck an apple.
10. To give your ass deep purpose.
All your life, your ass has been seeking its highest purpose. It has patiently hung out back there, full of some of the strongest muscle in your body and coated with juicy fats that can make a grown man cry. But I dare ask, what have you really been doing with it? I mean really-really? When we belly dance, we squeeze the glutes to make the hips move. Yes, it really should be called the butt dance, but whatever. When I discovered the Suhaila Salimpour technique, my glutes wept butt tears of joy. Yours will too!
By: Kandice Grossman