Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Monday, July 30, 2007


Monday, July 30, 2007

Instead of church yesterday, we journeyed across the Bay Bridge to San Leandro and the Belly Dance Festival. Go to for some pictures and the schedule. Some eighty dance groups performed, we saw about a dozen. Belly dancing started as a way to train women’s muscles to prepare for delivering babies. Women of all sizes, shapes, colors, races, weights and lengths partook. The costumes are varied and colorful in the extreme. There is no nudity but it is astonishing what these dancers can do with their chests, bellies, hips, bottoms, arms and hands all at once. Like all fine dancing there is control, being able to move all parts of the body keeping the heads still and straight. We had a good Moroccan chicken and couscous lunch there as well.

Belly dancing is wonderful exercise and stretching, movement and rhythm. The stamina of constant movement for ten or fifteen minutes is impressive and healthy. The beauty of the women’s bodies was wondrous to behold. Most of the dancers were bare from just below their beasts to just above their pubes. The navel was a shadow eye peering out at us in the audience. Many of the costumes were bare backed with a bra strap showing and exposing a delightful expanse of flesh reminding us that our backs are fleshy and beautiful too.

Many of the dancers were large to fat. The jiggle of the larger bellies give a charming extra ripple to the vigorous to gentle movements of the dancers. I thought what a wonderful opportunity for large women to get exercise, learn to dance, enjoy showing their bodies and having a sense of their own beauty eschewing the style of most women. The large dancers showed they loved heir bodies and were not afraid to let us know they were proud women.

Not only large women but small and thin women also danced and moved their bodies with grace and vigor along with the more average sized women. They all showed off their bodies and their dancing skill without shame or embarrassment. It may take a while for beginners to get that sense of freedom and joy in their bodies but it is worth having..

Features of many of the dancers are hand cymbals. Clicking and dinging as the women dance. Keeping the rhythm and movement and sound all at once are fine talents and give a pleasing sound to the dance movements. Then there are the ululations, high pitched voice sounds giving a version of applause, approval and encouragement to each other.

Not only do the dancers have to learn to move and control their own bodies, they must coordinate and dance as a corps de ballet in sync with two to a dozen other dancers in their troop. The routines of the groups are indeed complex and varied. Many hours of practice are in evidence as the women perform.

The costumes are so very colorful and varied. Fringe, sequins, scarves, hats, flowers veils, sometimes boots and shoes although most danced barefoot. Greens, yellows, reds, browns, blacks, whites blare out from most of the dance troops costumes.

The most striking dancers were not the ones with the most beautiful bodies but the ones who changed their facial expressions along with the mood of the movement, intensity of the rhythm and swoops of the arms, legs and hands. Dancers with fixed smiles or serious miens were not as interesting to watch.

The music is that rather whiny Middle Eastern music with strong drumbeats and sinewy sounds that are piercing and relentless. Reed instruments and strings fill out the sounds.

There is an initial sexy air as we watch the dancers then after a while it moves to a place of appreciation and happiness. Occasionally a particular dancer will catch my attention by the beauty and of her body, the look on her face that appears seductive. The erotic charge is pleasant but not pervasive.

Belly dancing is fun to watch, has a mysterious air and is a wonderful revelation of what the human body can do and be.


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