Bad, Bad Fizz

Yeah, I’ve been bad about updating. Sorry to the two people who read this site with regularity! This past weekend we went down to CT to visit with Mr. Fizz’s little sister (who’s at Conn College) and celebrate my mom-in-law’s birthday. This also involved Mr. Fizz’s grandparents driving up from New Jersey, the finding of many bathrooms in small towns in CT, waiting for people to get ready, and a three hour birthday dinner.

Yes.

Sunday I stopped in with my parents and grocery shopped. That is how glamorous my life is.

That warm fuzzy feeling

One of my students, whom I’ve been teaching for nearly three years, improvised for the VERY first time yesterday! I am so proud of her – she got through a whole four minute song that she didn’t know without standing around and looking pouty. Brava!

What finally got her to improvise was either my bad temper or my suggestion to pick one fallback move (a technique taken from the writings at www.shira.net) to use when she couldn’t think of anything else to do. So she’d string some moves together, go to her fallback move, and then put some more moves together. She only had to use her fallback three or four times during the whole song, which impressed me.

And it got me thinking back to when I was a newly minted performer: how had I started to improvise? Well, here’s the thing: I don’t really remember. I think it was something along the lines of this: I was dancing four sets per weekend at one restaurant, and had choreographies to only four songs. Obviously I had to branch out, and I didn’t have time to come up with full choreos to all the songs I wanted to use. So I improvised. I guess to some extent the mere experience of dancing in a restaurant (where choreographies rarely work, because tables move, waiters get in the way, and all sorts of unchoreographed things happen) makes you more open to improvising.

The high cost of dancing

I intend to post this on my belly dance website soon, and hope it’s not too offensive. But I get a LOT of shocked people when I tell them my prices….

***

Why are dancers so expensive?

I only get this question occasionally, but it’s one that’s worth addressing. My rates start at roughly $10 per minute of performance. That puts me right up there with lawyers! But a performance is much more than just the dancing. Prior to being able to put on a performance, I have to:

• Attend workshops and classes to learn the latest belly dance styles.
• Buy music – different styles, from techno to traditional Turkish, are a must.
• Buy costumes – you can get an idea of the prices at www.dahlal.com.
• Select appropriate music for your party.
• Spend time listening to and practicing with the music.
• Put on makeup.
• Style my hair.
• Drive, rarely less than 15 minutes in either direction, usually quite a bit more.

So next time you think to yourself that $150 is a little steep for 15 minutes of dancing, bear in mind that if you truly got only 15 minutes of my time I would have shown up for your party in jeans, with no makeup and messed up hair. And that’s only if you live near me…otherwise my 15 minutes would have been spent in the car!

I do not think you see what you think you see

Last night I performed at a restaurant wearing this costume by Pharaonics of Egypt:
1001 nights
Except mine is teal colored, and I’ve removed the waist loop.

After my performance, my mother in law, who was watching with her husband and some friends, remarked that the costume was a little risque, held up with only two thin straps of beads and all.

Hah! Not the case! Like all belly dancers, I am paranoid; not only is there flesh colored mesh in all those seemingly open triangles, but I was wearing not one, but TWO pairs of grannie undies. One pair of boy shorts to which the costume was carefully pinned with about a dozen pins, and one extra pair of grannies underneath those, just in case the skirt decided to fall down or something.

But it’s nice to know that you can’t see that extensive architecture from the audience.

Points of Locker Room Etiquette

It is late and I cannot remember if locker room can actually be combined into one word. So, here goes:

1) If you enter the locker room and there is only ONE locker with a lock on it, for the sake of all that is holy DO NOT use the locker right next to the only one that is in use. There are, oh, 300 other lockers for you to choose from!

2) If, for some unknown reason, you are THAT PERSON who insists on using the locker next to the one occupied locker, please don’t leave your stuff strewn along the bench while you go shower. I am the person who will re-distribute your offending stuff to random lockers.

2a) Use a damn lock. Otherwise see (2)

3) When your child is 8 he is old enough to change in the men’s locker room. Nuff said.

4) If you happen to be so insecure that you feel the need to change in one of the bathroom stalls, maybe the gym is not the place for you.

5) If you happen to be so secure that you dry your hair naked, maybe the gym is not the place for you.

6) Please quit trying to share a mirror with me if you’re naked.

7) Also please bear in mind that the acoustics in the locker room are so good that I can hear EVERYTHING you say, even the stuff about the guy you met last night and accidentally slept with, and how you think your TA is hot, and what parties you’re going to this weekend.

Venetian Style

There is a huge, HUGE house next door to the triple decker in which I live. I met the woman who lives there once and, after she introduced herself, I brightly asked which floor she lived on (we are in a neighborhood of condos, people!). “All of them,” she replied.

Ah.

But it turns out that’s not quite the truth.

As I was taking the trash out yesterday, I noticed for the first time that all the rooms of the first floor are filled with boxes. Stacked boxes even sit on the kitchen counters. Cats sit on the boxes.

Apparently the first floor has been abandoned to files and accumulated crap, and neighbor lady has moved on up to occupy the second and third floors of the huge house.

And here I dream of one day having a room in our house that is dedicated to being a dance studio. Maybe if I’m lucky I’ll even have a *separate* room for my costumes and sewing stuff.

{sigh}

blah

Yeah, that week after New Year’s? Not so productive.

In fact, all I did was knit one mitten.

Actually the past week wasn’t so bad. Just…long.

The highlight of the week was performing at my belly dance teacher’s mother’s retirement home. Retirees are always a good crowd to dance for – those who are not fast asleep pay very good attention. The cutest part of the show was watching the retirees arrive for the performance – some were dressed in costumes (because they felt like it? because there was a costume theme? we’ll never know). The pensioners who stole the show were two women who came waddling in wearing plastic bags crafted in to penguin outfits. I’m totally stealing that idea for next halloween….

That missing week

What a busy week! But relaxing! Christmas was fabulous – my parents got me the iPod boombox I’d wanted, along with many other things. My parents gave Mr. Fizz all five seasons of the West Wing on DVD (we’re still working through season 1, but I’m hooked!). Mr. Fizz got me some very thoughtful gifts, among them some herbal tea, a massage book, and a journal (as usual, he bought the bestest, most thoughtful gifts ever). After too much food we drove over to the in-laws’ house for the first night of Hanukkah. There was more food there…I think I went into a food coma at that point.

The day after Chrishanukkahmas Mr. Fizz and I set out to visit our friends, A & N, in Hanover. We got started later than we’d hoped, and the roads were totally crappy due to rain/snow, but once we got there we had a good time hanging out with A & N and eating dinner at Molly’s ($2 margaritas! but too cold for them! argh!). N had to leave for work the next morning at the crack of dawn, but A made us a kickin’ breakfast (best bran muffins EVER!).

We then trundled even farther north to North Woodstock, NH. A cute little town, but dead in the winter (maybe dead in the summer too, given how many places were boarded up). Our hotel (and home for the next five nights) was the Franconia Hotel, where we had a tiny room that smelled like old person. But it was warm, and when it came right down to it, that was what mattered. Well, that and the reasonable $50/night price during vacation week.

Our plan was to snowboard at Loon or the surrounding mountains, but warm weather (rain! argh!) put the kibbosh on that. So we spent the next three days exploring the region. We drove the Kancamagus Highway, stopping at Rocky Gorge (where we had waterfalling experiences in August) to do a bit of hiking. We went antiquing all through Lincoln and Woodstock. We went antiquing in Littleton (home of the longest candy counter in America) and Bethlehem. We spent an entire day sitting in the local coffee shop, knitting (me) and programming (hubby). It was an altogether relaxing trip!

Our friends S and M joined us for New Year’s celebrations on the 31st, so we took them out cross country skiing (which was way cheaper than downhill!) and then had an early dinner at the local Chinese joint. After that we joined a bunch of our other friends at Loon, where my friend’s dad has a condo which he’d agreed to let us use.

Because we are now officially old and crusty we spent new year’s eve doing the following:
1) knitting (that was just me, but I did get some help winding yarn)
2) playing celebrity
3) singing along with my friend C, who knows the guitar chords for all the indigo girls songs
4) singing along with D, who knows all the guitar chords for all heavy metal songs
5) making the geeks download some karaoke for us to sing along to
6) singing

We are old.

Mr. Fizz and I left the party around 12:45, but stayed up until 2 watching the food network (yes, we will watch anything when the TV is at the foot of the bed. Anything at all). We dragged our sorry selves out of bed at the crack of dawn (8) on the 1st, checked out of the hotel, got coffee, and drove to Pittsfield. For four hours. Stupid little back roads.

For the last few years we’ve spent new year’s day with our friend K’s family in Pittsfield. It’s always a relaxing day – lots of food, a good fire, fun people. This year was no exception. K’s parents (who used to own a restaurant) made much fine food, we ate it while watching TV and sitting by the fire, and we spent THREE HOURS discussing baby names for K and T’s impending arrival. We’ve discovered it’s much more fun to come up with bad baby names than good baby names, so most of our suggestions were along the lines of Aloysius, Dagmar, Commodore (popular in the 1880s, along with Admiral and Doctor!).

Anyway, we spent the night of the first at the Chambery Inn in Lee, which is in a beautiful victorian-era building. And then back! Stopped in with our respective parents for a bit on the second before returning to our house and unloading a ton of crap from our car.