Sunday, August 5, 2012

Momentarily forget about the photographs above.  Picture this:  a white clapboard, middle sized house in a small Cape Cod town.  The house has been turned into a casual restaurant that encourages people to come, chat, have meetings, spend time on their computers, and go out and enjoy the patio, which has a terrazzo area surrounded by wrought iron chairs and tables. The patio is enclosed by a weathered wood fence that protect patrons from the fairly busy street and from the sometimes noisy day care center next door.  There are trumpet vines covering the small porch to the door to the restaurant and at night it sparkles with little fairy lights.  The establishment is called the Chat House and is in the town of Dennis.

Now think of the patio and add five women of various ages and body types.  Some are attired somewhat like the woman above in blue; all have scarves of golden pailettes that sparkle around their hips, three have bare midriffs; two -- the older of the group (one is the teacher) wear more covered up but distinctly middle eastern  gowns.  Only two women are young enough to have what could be called bikini bodies. The last performer is the teacher who is not dressed like the woman in black but does dance with a sword which she variously balanced on her head, on her forehead and on one hip as she continued to dance, sometimes with castanets. Each of the five danced alone to music of their choice, and all seem fairly accomplished to this viewer who is ignorant of serious belly dancing standards.

Impossible to forget it's New England, wonderful to realize that the variety of arts and dance, as well as crafts and music, in this place is far more varied than stereotypes would suggest.  My daughter and I had a very entertaining evening and especially liked a dancer who seems to be expressing a hidden self when she dances.  Her expression told us clearly she was enjoying her gyrations.  But if one met her elsewhere in every day clothing she would look like a bespectacled, rather prim sort.  Hurray for her! To me she personifies something I've discovered about Cape  Cod.



June -- Belly dancing -- hmmm. Not a fan. I know, lots of folks think I should appreciate this dance but I can't get past its origins -- for the amusement of a bunch of men. Sorry -- barbara

June Calender said...

I understand about the history of belly dancing -- the wives were basically harem slaves. But I think dancing might have been an empowering activity, one of their few creative outlets -- and, of course, sex can be a turn on. As it's taught and done today in the US it obviously seems empowering, and good exercise. I suspect the sword dancing could have had a certain frisson with the men a bit uneasy that the woman had a weapon to play with.