Enjoy this vintage post from 2011, written while I was spending a year in Estonia finishing my PhD. I’ve added a picture from my time in Estonia, from a photoshoot I did with the ladies I belly danced with while there. This is to emphasize the creative choices that go into belly dancing: costuming, makeup, jewelry, hair style, prop use (in this case a veil), and so on.
I recently had a revelation about sex that occurred to me in an unexpected context: at a belly dance workshop.
Since relocating to Estonia, I’ve found belly dancers to hang out with and practice with, which has been really wonderful. It may be a small country, but belly dance is really popular here! Ironically, I found myself at a belly dance festival taking a workshop with an American dancer who I’d always admired but never had a chance to study with in America, so, go figure, I got to take classes with her here in Estonia.
Mira Betz is a really amazing dancer–and, better yet–a really insightful teacher. One of the things she said, that stuck with me, was that dancing is all about choices. In order to be the best dancer you can be, you have to be aware of all of the choices available to you. This comes through practice, through taking lots of classes, through messing around and making mistakes. You have to learn the range of your body’s motions (how far can you raise your arms? how large a circle can you make with your wrists? how far can you extend your hips in any direction?) and the various ways in which you can interpret the music.
What struck me, upon reflection, is how true this is for sex, as well. Sex is all about choices–or rather, it should be. People who are interested in sex should have access to every kind of information out there, about contraception and positions and communication and the types of relationships available to them, so that they can make informed decisions. For some, this might mean choosing not to have sex, which is okay too. So is choosing to have sex with one partner, or many, or partners of only one gender, or both.
This is yet another reason I don’t think sex should be treated as a taboo topic, something to suppress and be silent about. Sure, not everyone wants to share the intimate details of their sex life with everyone, or hear about everyone’s sex life, and that’s fine. Learning about the choices available to you could be as simple as picking up an informative book about sex, such as those that we recommend and review on this site, or learning could be more active, like reading new erotica or having an intimate conversation with a partner about new ideas, likes, and dislikes.
Anyway, this is one of those rare posts where I talk about belly dance and sex in the same breath, because of how stigmatized belly dance is due to its perceived sexiness. In the end, though, both dancing and sex are informed by creativity and joy, among a range of other emotions and experiences, so why not discuss the links from time to time?