some fries with that shake
April 18, 2002 07:43 AM

Bodies are like Bauhaus, good for function. I've been trying to think more of my body as a vehicle, not as a vessel. Not a collective set of parts. Not components, but a moving, functional whole.

So I've been thinking about my hips, the center of my motion.

Hips shake. They shake and they sway and they wave and they giggle. That is, jiggle. But maybe they giggle, too. Mine bounce with delight at wearing new shoes; that's a little like giggling.

And I like that.

I hate my hips. They're a curse that reduces me to the shape of a fruit, a pear, an object. They're foul on a white girl in a culture with no good word for bootay. As soon as I start thinking of my hips, they become this detestable object, separate from me. Fodder for magazine articles and silly nicknames.

Of course, a body part can't move. A part can't shimmy or shift. A part gets stuck on a shelf until you tie it up into something and take it for a drive.

My hips are no part. They're a section of me, inseparable from the rest. They can't be hated, because to hate them would be to hate, well. Me.

They're the curve of my spine, the power of my bootay, seat of my cunt (and seat of my, well, seat, too). They're a whole load of muscles all connected up sides, back, legs. My hips aren't a part. They're a coalition.

They're a classroom, where I've been learning to dance.

Being a perfectionist means I give up instantly on anything at which I don't immediately succeed (this is what it means to me, at least - some people are perfectionists quite oppositely). But if I can disguise my failure from others, it's alright. It took me years to get to even that point, and I'm happy with it for now. So I learn things away from classrooms and eyes.

I've been learning tribal (belly) dance in my bedroom for some months. I've learned enough that I want to learn more, to go to dance clubs and practice to some music with words. I want others to learn and go dancing with me. Tribal dance is for tribes, after all, and it's improvisational. Perfect for clubs.

My hips like this dancing. They like to be loose and bouncing. Of course they do. The dance may be all about them, but the great secret (it's not a secret, really) of tribal dance styles is that your hips do almost no work whatsoever. That is - none of the movement is really motivated by the hips. They just move along with things.

Tribal dance is a joyous celebration of the hips by every other aspect and angle of the body. It makes your hips from wood, paints them and carries them through the town, showers them with gifts and adoration, and stops just short of burning them on a ceremonial boat-shaped pyre. It's dance as a religion of the hips.

And I think I've been converted.

this entry is brought to you by on display and fat chance belly dance.

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