Posts tagged Dancing
I never would have thought I’d be able to say it, but I have officially bellydanced in Beijing. To top it off, against all cultural paradigms and assumptions, my teacher was a man, and he was AMAZING!
When I first arrived in Beijing, I signed up for a temporary membership to the local Bally Total Fitness (I know, who would’ve thought) because they were offering a “deal” to people in my program. I’ve usually just popped in most days, run on the treadmill while watching low budget Chinese soap operas. I then usually finish up by lifting some free weights, partly for the workout, partly so I can giggle to myself as I watch Chinese men flex and stare at themselves in the mirrors. There is plenty of other entertainment too, from the revolving disco lights in the spinning room to the multi-colored swishy overalls to that time when I lost my balance and fell off one of the exercise balls…
Anyway, back to bellydancing. I’ve always had a class schedule and had wanted to go to one, but just a few days from leaving Beijing, I still hadn’t gone. At the gym tonight, I was just about to start lifting when I heard some fun music from the group exercise room. I went over and saw that it was bellydancing class. I looked at the clock… it had only started a few minutes ago. I looked at the schedule… this was the last bellydancing class I’d have a chance to take in China, potentially ever. I stood for a few minutes contemplating… do I endure the potential awkwardness of the white girl walking into the Chinese bellydancing class and come out with a great story? or do I go back to my free weights and pretend like I never had the opportunity to give up in the first place? It wasn’t easy, but I managed to fight the urge to be lame and I went in and started shimmy-in’ and shake-in’ with a bunch of Chinese women.
As I was dancing, I couldn’t help but think about the extremes of Chinese culture, how a farmer might feel if he were plucked from his rural village and suddenly transported into our class. The modernization and transformations in Beijing are astounding. Based on the culture that I’ve learned, I never in a million years would have though that I would have been taught bellydancing by a man in China. It’s just one example of new trends and phenomenons that are remolding culture on a daily basis. When I think back on some of my other experiences in different parts of the country over the last 5 years, it sometimes feels like they happened in a whole other world. The tides here unpredictable, and it’s absolutely fascinating. China, you never cease to keep me on my toes!
(Thanks to Katelyn’s creative genius for coming up with the title of this post!)
Arriving in Boulder meant reuniting with Geoff, one of our close friends from studying abroad in China in 2006 (where Katelyn and I met, for those of you who didn’t know). We arrived late Wednesday night after a grueling drive, but despite our exhaustion, it was still wonderful to be reunited.
Thursday was one of those days where you feel like nothing is quite going your way, but thankfully we had some redeeming moments that kept us sane. We planned lunch with Katelyn’s cousin who works in downtown Denver, but since we are GPS-less, we had to google map the directions beforehand. It wasn’t until we had “arrived at our destination” in Aurora, CO did we realize that Katelyn had mistyped the address and we were lost. As we neared the supposed destination, we couldn’t help but laugh as we realized that the nearly deserted area with scattered buildings was far from what Katelyn remembered of downtown Denver. Thankfully, we didn’t end up too far from our actual destination, made it downtown, and despite minor parking frustrations, had a nice meal with her cousin. We even tried to invigorate downtown Denver with some street dancing…
Disenchanted with navigating deep in a city, we decided to head back out towards Boulder after lunch in search of a cafe and shopping while we waited for Geoff to get off of work. The skills I’ve developed for finding WiFi proved useful because we had a hard time finding what we were looking for. Once we made it to a Starbucks, we realized that they don’t have free WiFi! Plus, it started snowing. Feeling a little defeated (and really cold), we did finally find a store and pick up some of the essentials we were looking for. We redeemed the frustrating afternoon by meeting up with Geoff and his girlfriend and their friends for a delicious fondue dinner and called it an early night and came back home to reminisce about our days in China and look at old pictures.
Reminiscing about our days in China (which was over 3 years ago now!) has been an awesome experience. Collaborative memories come out with much more detail than when you are left remembering all on your own. Despite the passage of time, it’s still so nice to see that some things (and people’s personalities) never change. Katelyn and I have both seen a LOT of friends on this trip and it’s been a similar experience, realizing how much we value the people who have impacted our lives at different points along the way.
On Friday, Katelyn and I took some time to regroup (and do laundry) and explore a bit of downtown Boulder. We wanted to minimize our chances of getting lost so we parked ourselves in an awesome cafe, had some wonderful coffee and caught up on various things. Once the evening came, we met back up with Geoff and his girlfriend and cooked a delicious dinner of fajitas as we danced around the kitchen and had a great time.
After dinner, we wanted to relive some of our fondest memories from China and went out in downtown Boulder to go dancing. We had an awesome night, dancing until we were completely exhausted.
We left Boulder this morning en route to our next destination: Kansas City, MO, but we had a great time in Colorado despite the bad weather