I've interviewed belly-dancers for Health24; I've written about the history and benefits of belly-dancing, but I've never actually got my belly out and jiggled it in a class full of strangers.
I was nervous as I entered my first class at Feminine Divine dance studio, but, phew, not a super-model in sight. First hurdle over.
The second hurdle was just as easy: most of the women were casually dressed in gym trousers and t-shirts. My belly could retain its privacy.
It's not gentle
After that, though, it wasn't easy. Just the warm-ups had me panting and aching in places that had beforehand been in eternal slumber.
The first move I perfected (and I use that term loosely) is what I now know is a 'shimmy' and after that, I had what is probably the most fun I have had in ages (in spite of a few hiccups with the coin belt, which did some downward shimmying of its own).
It was an amazing workout and every muscle tingled afterwards, although strangely enough, I felt relaxed at the same time.
The following day, despite fearing I would be in agony, I felt relatively fine, which goes to show the benefits of stretching after class.
So even though I had spent the majority of the day worrying about the embarrassment of being the class clown, I ended up thoroughly enjoying myself. I am really looking forward to the next class.
Cape Town: Feminine Divine Oriental Dance Studio
Phone: 021-712- 1913
Joburg: Charlotte of The Jewel of the Nile
(Amy Henderson, Health24.com, January 2008)