When I was a little girl, my favorite dance to perform for my family was the Hoochie Coochie…which is weird now that I google the meaning. A lot of terms such as “sexually provocative,” and “belly dance” pop up. I had a whole outfit, rife with a coconut bra held on with dark blue yarn, and a plastic lei skirt to finish the ensemble.
How my mom thought this was appropriate doesn’t really matter at this point. I wiggled and squirmed my way into adulthood, really appreciating Technotronic’s Pump up the Jam on car rides.
Fast forward a couple years, hell a few decades, and I’m a 33-year-old who has, on occasion, danced burlesque.
I attended my first burlesque show in Fort Wayne with mom. I sat in awe as I watched women interpret songs while also stripping down to pasties. There were performers of all shapes and sizes, and I thought they were the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.
I never even considered that I could be part of that type of group. I had wiggly parts that most wouldn’t pay to see, let alone show off for free. I didn’t know the path I would go on would lead me to this group of ferociously loving women who put so much work into performing.
But here I am. In a few weeks, I will be performing again with the group that brought me back to life after the split from Boyfriend. Up until joining, I had made myself so small so that no one would notice the pain I was in.
The first time performing on stage, I stood off to the side before it was my turn to go on and I almost passed out from hyperventilating. My heart performed a twerking of the ages, blood rushing to my head. But behind me was a bevy of feminine strength that basically launched me onto the stage. “You got this girl,” someone whispered in my ear.”
On that stage, as I stripped the pieces of clothing off and I revealed pieces of my body I’d always been ashamed of.
I’ve spoken of this before, but it’s important to speak of now. In a couple weeks the group will be performing again. The thing is, the venue that we usually perform at will be closing it’s door, so we’re doing a “best of” show. Now, I wouldn’t call my little diddy a best of anything, but I’m going to do my best.
I am bringing back my first dance set to a song near and dear to my heart. It’s annoying, in a catch phrasey sort of way, but it’s from my roots, from a Puerto Rican musician. I’ve actually decided to rework it and add things to it. In the process, I’ve looked up dances from my culture. One I am not familiar with. Growing up in Indiana, there are a lot less Puerto Ricans per capita. I’m learning about pena, and bomba dancing from the past. Women literally used their skirts to rustle up dust so that slaves could escape under the cloud cover. This I would have never known without finding this group.
Some might think it in bad taste to add a cultural vein to what I do with the burlesque group. But if I don’t use those ingredients here, where do I use them? What other reason would I have to investigate the dances of my heritage?
Besides, they’re just boobs.
See you August 18th at Soups Salads and Spirits for the last show performed on the premises!