Belly Dancing, Fulham Style

A complete lack of exercise in my life drew me to Fulham’s Dance Attic Studios, along with a friend who wouldn’t take no for an answer. It’s hard to maintain the British ‘don’t care’ attitude when you’re gyrating in a room full of strangers to the Holly Valance version of Kiss Kiss. It helped that I could actually do it, I admit. No one likes to find out that they’re hopelessly inflexible and uncoordinated.

The hour-long Tuesday class at the studio began with some warm-up moves, which is where you find out exactly how Beyonce and Shakira do those things they do, and realise that they’re not so impressive after all. You also realise at this point that your arms have never really had much of a work-out before, as you snake them around like Cleopatra. “It should hurt a bit,” teacher Fleur Estelle calls helpfully from the front.  That’s a relief.

We learn how to shimmy, and the wonderful thing about this class is that at least half of the women – and they’re all women – have those Turkish belly dancing skirts on, so the room is filled with the sound of light jangling metal and giggling. It’s a great way to feel less self-conscious about the fact that you’re wiggling your bum as fast as you can, while watching the fat on your stomach wobble in the mirror.

“Let it all go,” beams Fleur, “it’s cathartic!”  She, of course, is absolutely tiny, with not an ounce of fat on her, and her T-shirt is pulled up so that we can see the precise movement of her hips along with everything else, so it’s easy for her to say.

After all this wriggling around, during which time the class has relaxed, we do some basic routine action, with our leader in front calling out instructions as we follow. It’s a lovely experience actually; you feel as though you have truly learned something and had a great time doing it. And if belly dancing’s not your thing, you can also learn ballet, salsa, Latin, ballroom, hip-hop, street dance and even breakdancing, all at beginner level if need be. And Fleur is an excellent teacher. I shall try not to begrudge her her flat stomach.

Dance Attic Studios
368 North End Road

Tel: 020 7610 2055

Image by Alaskan Dude courtesy of Flickr

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