Good Reading : October 2006
BOOKBITE 52 goodreading ı OCTOBER 2006 men with her pelvic thrusts. She had thought it tasteless and embarrassing, almost as embarrassing as if the restaurant had employed a stripper. So she’d been both surprised and a little disappointed when Angie had said she’d like a belly dancer at her hens’ night. The idea seemed vaguely tacky, but Gayle had bitten back the urge to question it – after all, she knew little about what women in their twenties enjoyed these days. At the end of the first dance there had been a brief silence, a silence as significant as the rapturous applause that followed, and Marissa had settled cross-legged on the steps and talked about the origins and traditions of the dance. Lying now with a cool, damp towel over her eyes to stop them burning, Gayle could see her there again, calm and authoritative, talking about a celebration of female sexuality, and about the sensuousness and the self-possession of the dancer being the key to its power. Once again she saw the roomful of women rise to their feet; she felt Trisha’s hand on her arm pulling her up, felt the movement of the women’s bodies, saw the swaying jean-clad hips, the swirl of skirts, and Tony’s mother’s arthritic fingers curled with unusual grace. Self-conscious- ness and embarrass- ment evaporated as they swayed and turned together in time to the music. Then Marissa had taken Angie by the hand, draped a glittering silver veil across her shoulders and shown her the steps for the bridal dance. ‘It was wonderful,’ Trisha said to Marissa later, watching as she rolled her costume into a soft calico bag. ‘You were fabulous, magnificent … Honestly, I was blown away – we all were.’ Marissa grabbed her hair in her hands and pulled it through a scrunchie. ‘Thanks. I’m glad you enjoyed it.’ She turned to Gayle. ‘They all danced. Once they see it and under- stand what it means, women usually do want to give it a go.’ Gayle blushed. ‘I feel really stupid … I’d no idea.’ ‘Don’t apologise,’ Marissa said, struggling back into her leathers. ‘Very few people know anything about Middle Easter n dance or its meaning. I’m glad you enjoyed it.Your daughter’s gorgeous. The wedding’s on Saturday?’ Gayle nodded. ‘Well, have a lovely day.’ She reached into a pocket inside her bag. ‘I’ll just give you these cards,’ she said, handing a few to Gayle and Trisha, and to Sonya, who had now appeared in the bedroom doorway. ‘In case you ever feel like doing some more dancing, I run classes. Beginners always on Wednesday evenings from seven to nine, and Saturday mor nings.The details are on the card.’ She handed over some vouchers. ‘Come along and see if you like it,’ she said. Sonya looked at the voucher. ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘I’ll give it a go. You’ve inspired me.’ ‘Me too,’ Trisha said. ‘We’ll be there sometime soon, won’t we, Gayle?’ Gayle’s breath seemed trapped in her throat. ‘Course we will,’ Trisha continued. ‘Some women find it creates a bit of a change for them,’ Marissa said with a smile at Gayle. ‘And it’s great exercise too. It was lovely to meet you. I’ll get out of your way now.’ They watched her climb onto the motorbike, heard the engine kick into action, and gazed after her as she roared off down the quiet street. ‘That was amazing,’ Sonya murmured as the tail lights of the bike disappeared around the corner. ‘What a fabulous woman … ’ ‘And the mix,’ Trisha agreed. ‘I mean, the bike and the leathers and the dancing.’ She paused. ‘I’m up for it. Why don’t the three of us go together?’ Gayle had bitten her lip and said nothing, slipping the card into her pocket as Trisha and Sonya swapped phone numbers. Now, hours later, she hated herself: her caution, the emotional and physical rigidity carved into her body. And she knew that, fascinated as she had been by her brief encounter with the awesome energy of Marissa’s dance, she would not risk encountering it again. Taken from Belly Dancing for Beginners by Liz Byrski, published by Pan Macmillan, rrp $32.95. Liz Byrski is a West Australian writer, journalist and broadcaster. She is the author of a number of books on social issues, and until recently was a broadcaster with ABC Radio in Perth. She teaches writing and jour nalism at Curtin University, and is also the author of the popular novels Gang of Four and Food, Sex and Money. Once again she saw the roomful of women rise to their feet; she felt Trisha’s hand on her arm pulling her up, felt the movement of the women’s bodies, saw the swaying jean-clad hips, the swirl of skirts, and Tony’s mother’s arthritic fingers curled with unusual grace.