It was a hot summer day in North Carolina, somewhere before the “dog days of summer”, but quite honestly those that are intimately aware of the humidity and almost unbearable summer heat in North Carolina; knows there’s really no distinction of where one ends and the other begins. I arrived for my first belly dance class at the YMCA in a hasty nervous pace hoping not to be late. I entered the brightly lit fitness room with a large mirror that extended the length of the room; unofficially marking the “front”; with the typical equipment found in a fitness room; ballet bars, workout mats, steppers, and exercise balls lined against the perimeter walls. Unfamiliar sounds of Egyptian Pop music filled the room like air, free flowing and inviting.
It felt like my first day of school. I looked for the familiar face that invited me there. My instructor was beautiful and appeared exotic her skin was golden and lightly tanned, and she had a friendly and inviting smile. Her voice carried throughout the room and she was super confident. Her long dark curly hair had auburn streaks and she wore a soft pink Nike bra top, black workout pants, pink coined hip scarf, and bare feet. It was hard to believe that I’d just met her a few days earlier. Her name was Diane, but in class and to her students she was known as, “Daliana”. At this moment, I felt a little “special” because, she and I met at my job, Sealy Inc., yes, the mattress company where she personally invited me.
At the time, I worked in R&D as a Regulatory Compliance Test Technician, and she was our “Pressure Mapping Model”. We’d later have a conversation after my former co-worker, “Paul”, said, “Hey, Myra! Have you met Diane?” I responded, “No, not yet.” With an excited response he said, “she teaches belly dance!” I remember thinking that was interesting and that I couldn’t wait to meet her. When we finally met, I told her that I wanted to lose weight for my upcoming wedding at the time, and she said, “you should take my beginner belly dance class. I’m starting a new session in a few days.”
Fast-forward, now, there I was registered in my first class standing in a circle with other excited belly dance newbies. None of us knew what to expect, but for me, this moment dispelled every negative connotation that I had about this dance form.
I was so wrong to be so judgmental previously, thinking that it was vulgar and resembled exotic dancing or striping. Now, I was intrigued and mesmerized by this art form. Daliana greeted this new group of novice belly dancers, “Welcome everyone! I’m so glad you’re here, my name is Daliana. Let’s warm-up!” The first cords “Angelika Unveiled” by Raul Ferrando— her favorite warm-up song—began to play, and my mind and body ascended as Daliana proceeded through a gentle “warm-up”, and this is the day I fell in love with belly dance! That was circa 2008.