from the archives: November 2005
As I watched the bellydancing, I had a story idea. I was watching the dancer (who is really, really, reallygood and I don't know nuttin about bellydancing but you'd have to be blind not to see she's brilliant at it) and thinking that bellydance is very much made exclusively for the female body. Not that men are necessarily incapable of the movements, but that the whole thing is conceived for and perfectly executed by the female anatomy. It's built around it. Tailor-made. Which is way cool.
And then I imagined [cue movie preview announcer voice] the story of a young man, determined to enter the mysterious world of the bellydance. They try to keep him out. A man can't bellydance! they tell him over and over again. [cut to shots of doors slamming in his face, dark-eyed old ladies laughing and shooing him away from their famous bellydancing studios, one woman wisely intones: it will make you a girl] They think he's a joke. But they don't realize - it's about the dance, man. But no one will teach him.
Until he finds One Woman who will teach him her art [she's not the love interest, but cut to quickly interspersed shots of her teaching him, all demanding and strict and as he fails and fails, her voice-over saying like It is work, the bellydance! Women know work. They work their fingers bloody as the men sip their coffee and gossip. What do YOU know about work, boy? Eh? Show me! Et cetera]
His family disowns him. Oh the shame of having this... this... bellydancer, spits his father. [wearing only his undershirt, he shouts A bellydancer is no son of mine! and then our hero is wandering in the street - the camera angle from behind shows him in silhouette against the darkening sky, but a tiny ray of light catches the metal of the finger-cymbals that dangle from his sad little pack of belongings (his mother surreptitiously pressed a little food and money into his hand) and we hear them jingle softly.]
But he works and works and it only takes believing in yourself and he endures the ridicule of friends and strangers [sad dramatic music gives way to the uplifting orchestral arrangement] and Finds Romance Which Proves He's Not Gay [cut to dark-haired, veiled beauty who smiles coyly at him] and works like a dog - no, says the hardened old teacher with a smile, like a woman - and makes it all the way to the Tri-State Bellydancing Championship!
And the preview ends with a shot of him backstage, the curtain before him, his music cued up, the token girlfriend holding his hand with the univeral I Believe In You look on her face, and he takes a breath, sweeps the veil up and over his shoulder to expose his belly (setting the bead-n-medallion fringe of his headdress gently jangling), and steps out onto the stage, defiant!
Close up on his face for just an instant, then the screen goes black and the words
rise up on the screen.
And then we hear from the darkened audience a voice in the back calling "You suck!"
Or maybe "Freebird!" but I can never decide which would be funnier.
And that's what I thought of during the bellydance recital.