Belly Dances To 1970's Sex Liberation
I had enjoyed soapy showers and then sex with hubby but I didn’t feel sexy while caring for babies. Sex was another domestic routine, a chore for his horny rush. I didn't care. It was duty booty. I accepted his need, was pleased he wanted me, was happy to give it but just didn’t feel sexy. If aroused I had to get mine on top first but usually was too tired and laid back and let him have it.
As the kids grew out of diapers and the Choo-choo train baby talk ended, however, we began to emerge from our marriage shell and rejoin our peers, at least on weekends. Most were still single, partying and sexually experimenting the new Age of Aquarius. They avoided career, house and kid commitments and considered us bogged down. We were bogged down but happy ever after-ing in our little Camelot.
In 1974, six years after our wedding bells pealed, the kids were in preschool and kindergarten. We made a second trip to Disneyland for the kids not us. We flew not drove, rented a car at the airport, stayed and ate in the Disney Hotel and took the monorail to and from the park. The trip reflected our economic rise upward.
With freedom from breast feeding, diaper changing, midnight baby cry awakening and being on the "Pill" my sexual yearnings re-emerged First it was a new dress or lingerie, then a special dinner with wine, then dancing, and best with all these ending on our marriage bed.
Our sex while vanilla was again satisfying and sketches in the book, Joy of Sex, told us how to experiment.
The changing sexual culture swirling around us, however, also shook our marital bed with ideas of greener grass on the other side of the marriage fence not, just doing different positions together.
We didn't talk about it. It was in our marriage closet. By the latter half of the 70's the sexual revolution of the sixties was over. Sex had won. Now everyone was "doing it". An 18-year-old virgin was a source of ridicule. Couples like us who missed the free love boat were urged to get aboard.
By 1975 middle America Tupperware parties became "Fuckerwear Parties" with the middle class married woman host selling lingerie, love making oils and sex toys. Pornography was on the big screen with, Deep Throat and Behind the Green Door. Woman’s magazines like Cosmopolitan and Redbook were full of articles titled, How to Experience Sex, Casual and Anonymous Sex, Your Orgasm and even, Should You Start Swinging?
The local newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News, delivered on the front porch included classifieds filled with couples wanting to meet couples. The Berkeley Barb, s political protest paper, morphed into a thick classified sex ad messenger for every depravity, it’s yellow paper rack pervasive at commercial street corners and restaurant entries.
With the pill and before AIDS there were few ramparts against the onslaught of sex on demand. The media pulled out the stops and advocated sex in the haze of marijuana smoke seeping across suburbia. Commitment meant doing something together, including swinging.
With two kids, we knew about sex. What we didn't know we knew from magazines, books, newspapers and even television, all now vying to outdo one another in sex education. From them we were informed we needed to expand our horizons despite what we knew.
I tested media tips for man pleasing but like new food recipes hubby wanted basic fare of 3 meals a day and 2 to 3 sex romps a week. He did respond to, sexy nighties, lingerie and hula dancing.
The city parks and recreation department offered hula dance lessons. I enrolled to firm up from child bearing. It required only a $20 fee, purchase of a grass skirt, weekly class attendance, a neighbor baby sitter during attendance and practice at home when hubby was absent because all it took was a little swaying in the grass skirt and he was on me fast and furious. It appeared a nylon nightie or hula skirt was more exciting than me.
From hula dancing I graduated to much more difficult belly dancing. I chose Turkish bedlay style known for its energetic shimmies, hip vibrations and clicking cymbals over the more sedate Egyptian. I made my costume with bead, sequin, and fringe decorated bra one stitch at a time. The “V” shaped hip belt included four layers of coin chains for shimmy emphasis and a lavender chiffon skirt for a dream like allure.
Accessories included a chiffon hip/neck shawl, large hoop earrings, bracelets and slave ankle coin charm. Movements are accompanied by finger held brass cymbals called zils in Turkish clicked by the dancer to the music tempo.
As with the other students, my costume was not traditional. It was based more on the TV series, I Dream Of Jeannie, than an authentic but expensive outfit encouraged by our instructor. She was a plump, middle aged former professional belly dancer. The class of about a dozen women was her venue for teaching her art and educating Americans about Turkey, a hobby income supplement to her day job. I learned where Turkey is on the globe and that belly dancing is one of the few things which unite opposing Turkish, Arabic, Armenian and Greek cultures. Eventually hubby and I visited the Middle East where we enjoyed different ethnic professional dances but of course but in different ways.
Belly dancing changed my self-image from long neck ugly duckling to temptress. My costume included a lavender nylon panty except when dancing before hubby due to his rapid response. Gyrations with cymbals clicking in front of hubby resulted in being picked up, carried to bed and nailed before I could go through the next dance movement.
There are 7 core movements to master with many variations due to ethnic and instructor nuances, most unnoticed by the untrained eye. We learned lifts and drops, slides, shimming, twists, circles, figure 8's and finally undulations as we trained muscles to avoid contortion injuries. We also learned to practice when there was no male significant other to interrupt.
My flexible body made it easier for me than for other students to master a movement. My “long” neck was ideal for head slides, my bosom and hips for shimming and my nimble sewing fingers for the cymbals.
My complexion and slanted eyes were assets. With the instructor’s guidance, I wore heavy eye makeup to emphasis “Cobra” eyes and used Liz Taylor in the movie Cleopatra for inspiration.
In costume and makeup, I converted the stigma of youth associated with Cobra to an asset adopted it as my stage name.
Tricks mastered are concentration on the movement of one body part, relaxation of other parts, breathing control, joint flexibility and music response. Once a month our instructor took the class out for a performance, typically before a sedate audience and often before women only. Beginners performed in a group but those advanced did a short solo exhibition of their most recent mastered movement.
As I advanced my dancing began to empower me, first with my husband and then with the audience as my movements captured attention. In belly dancing, one keeps a stoic face while performing but makes eye contact with the audience especially a singled-out male. I began to enjoy selecting a man in the audience, then mesmerize him through movements while keeping eye contact.
After a year, the instructor took I and another advanced student to an upscale Middle East style restaurant/night club with belly dancing in San Francisco. My costume by then had advanced to include a pearl jeweled headpiece and transparent silk veil which added to the allure of eye makeup and neck head slides. We were introduced as novices. No audience money offerings were permitted, innocents among the professional dancers, who didn’t resent us as competition.
The instructor had me perform second. Gyrating to the background music of the darbuka goblet shaped drum and kanoun strings, I swayed among the subdued lighted crowd, clicked my cymbals to shimmering hips from table to table until before one seating powerful looking men. I first got their attention with neck head slides, made indifferent eye contact with a good looking well-dressed man, roped him around the neck with my shawl and led him back to the stage behind my undulating hips.
Sitting him on a little stage chair, I performed before him. I began with hip lifts and drops to the music, advanced to neck and head slides, switched to shimmering shoulders, then breasts, then hips. I went through each progressive body part movement following the music’s increasing tempo with body twists, circles, figure 8's, to twisting undulations.
Finally, spread before him, arched back toward the floor, my torso supported by my buttocks on my feet’s heels, my knees spread apart, with indifferent eye contact I started my finish. I shimmied my shoulders and breasts as my torso and arms swayed to and fro, my cymbals clicked, my head slid from side to side, my eyes stared stoically at his mesmerized attention and swelled pants. The tempo increased with the music until a spasm of sexual exhilaration swept me.
His fixation caused a sense of sexual empowerment never possessed until then. With the music stopped my instructor led him back, limping, to his table. I arose from the floor, exhausted both physically and sexually. Standing, catching my breath, I gave my veiled bow to an ebullient ovation.
At home, still in costume, sans head piece and veil, with dried perspiration stained bra and belt, hubby picked me up before I could shower and took me to bed for his fast and furious. I climaxed thinking of the man's transfixed gaze before my gyrations and his pants stressed erection. Afterwards he attempted to contact me through the instructor but she was an experienced mother hen and ensured he never did. I didn’t want to meet him. I wanted him to remain a San Francisco fantasy but his seeking me boosted my self-esteem.
Belly dancing is time consuming. One needs to keep practicing ensuring flexibility and muscle conditioning to avoid injury. While sexually empowering my class attendance tapered off after my night club performance until ceasing due to going to work. Hubby was disappointed the costume moved to the back of the closet and eventually to a garage trunk.
Belly dancing, however, changed my self-image to someone sexually alluring, a fundamental change from being man shy to seeking their notice. I became a flirt, thrived for confirmation I was not a long necked ugly duckling but a Liz Taylor Cleopatra. Flirting was a game of glances, smiles, banter, innuendos and crass suggestions seeking a man's overt move and then hiding behind the safety of marriage to decline. Each overt male move provided confidence while honing my flirting skill. I continued to wear dark eye makeup, kept the nick name Cobra and often darted my tongue out when flirting.
High school friends who visited envied me. Life was good. Yet with the kids away during the day I was bored and still carried some of the low self-esteem of my youth due to dependency on my husband's income. Only flirting assured my self-worth.
Despite having everything, something was missing, an inoculate yearning disrupting happily-ever-aftering.
Author Notes: Life changes from minor decisions which result in unexpected results.