Bellydance Vs. Latin Dance Aerobics: Compare and Contrast

Venue

Bellydance: At a local community center where, on your way upstairs, you pass some Irish dancers and then some other people with glockenspiels and jingle bells or something that I’m not totally sure what they do except it involves rhythmic hopping. There is a nice art gallery upstairs right by our room. Hardwood floors with mirrors.

Latin Dance Aerobics: In a big cold room at the fairly newly-refurbished university gym sort of right by my work. Right next to a basketball court. Hardwood floors with mirrors.

Attire

Bellydance:A BIG old swoopy skirt with pantaloons underneath and a shelf-bra cami or choli on top. Some sort of something around your hips, either a tassel shawl or a coin belt or a fringey thing, all in pretty colors. If you are feeling a little tired after work you can just put your hair in some clips or something but if you’re feeling sassy you can wrap your head in a turban and put in some fake hair or put a bindi on your forehead. Also you get to wear bare feet. You think about getting a new pair of iridescent pantaloons.

Latin Dance Aerobics: Your tired and unflattering Old Navy yoga pants and a short balck t-shirt you just grabbed out of the drawer because your longer and more concealing black t-shirt with the mah-jongg pattern on it you got at Target in 2000 was in the wash. Your glasses, which you don’t wear at bellydance, because you want to be able to see the instructor clearly. You put your hair up in a little ponytail and you notice how unflattering your whole outfit is and also your feet hurt because your shoes aren’t supportive enough. You vow to make sure your mah-jongg shirt is clean next week and to pick up some better shoes at Target this weekend.

Demographics

Bellydance: Women from about twenty to sixty, usually. Many different shapes and sizes, wearing pretty skirts and dancing at various levels of expertise. Very friendly for the most part, but I may be biased here because I’ve been dancing with many of them for years.

Latin Dance Aerobics: Girls in their early twenties, from what I can tell, probably mostly undergraduates. There was one woman in what looked to be her late forties. I didn’t pay too much attention to how everyone else was dancing because I was too mortified about how terrible I looked in my ugly and ill-fitting yoga pants and too-short shirt.

Music

Bellydance: Pretty middle-eastern-y but without so much fiddles like in cabaret music. Sometimes what sounds to me like trip-hop but is probably something completely else because I’m not completely sure what trip-hop is. Very good and fun to dance to.

Latin Dance Aerobics: Lots of salsa-y stuff obviously, including this song, which I just love. Very good and fun to dance to.

Teacher

Bellydance: Sharon, who has a tattoo and often wears fishnet bodysuits and awesome hair accessories. She breaks down the moves sloooooowly if you need them and is very serious about her work. Sometimes laughs at my jokes and answers questions seriously. Her voice is very soothing and she walks around the class helping people and making adjustments for people…with me it’s always my out-of-control arms and my sticky left hip. Her arms are very much in control.

Latin Dance Aerobics: Kristy!, who is an undergraduate studying psychology and women’s studies and offered to answer any questions we, the Latin Dance Aerobics class, may have on those subjects because she looooooves to talk about her work and will probably tell us more than we ever wanted to know, ha ha! Very short and thin and wore yoga pants and two tank tops last night. She’d really love it if we gave her any feedback? Because she loves to teach this class? And it’s so important to her? So, any questions are totally welcome! Wore hair in pigtails and was very good at weird crunches and making a bridge out of her body.

What You Hear During Class

Bellydance: “So you’re facing the corners for this turn and you’re just going to pivot on the right as you make your hip circle, and then right into a maya. Pivot, hip, aaaaaand maya. Don’t forget the arms! And pivot, hip, aaaaaaaand maya. Remember to circle alllllll the way around before you go into the maya…that’s it. Really push through, go all the way through. And pivot, and hip, aaaaaaaand maya.”

Latin Dance Aerobics: “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOKAY! Adding on! Right! And left! And step! And step! And arm! And arm! AND TWO THREE FOUR AND STEP! AND STEP! AND PUSH! AND DOWN! THROW THE ARMS! AND STEP! AND STEP! GRAPEVINE! GRAPEVINE! AND RIGHT! AND LEFT! Okay, shake it all out!”

The Workout Itself

Bellydance: Short yoga-like warm-up; shimmy drills; drills on specific moves that usually includes just following Sharon while she dances in front of the class, after she’s broken down the moves themselves. Sometimes we’ll work in duets or alone for a little bit. Occasionally zills. Usually we end class with a couple of minutes of chorus work where you’re tacitly expected to include some of the moves you worked on that evening when it’s your turn to be in the center of the chorus, and then a very short cool down. We form a circle and end by putting our hands together at chest level and sort of curtseying to one another, and then clap and/or zaghareet.

Latin Dance Aerobics: Some stretching for warm-up and then focus on a “combination” which involved putting together a couple of moves, first slowly and then at speed. Last twenty minutes of class spent in conditioning, which mostly meant doing various crunches in various funny positions, for example on your back with your legs wide apart. And those pilates things where you stretch out and lift your right arm and your left leg and then vice versa, forever. And then! Then some awful pushups, which involved making your body into a table, facing the ceiling, and then raising and lowering yourself with your arms. Some good old-fashioned leg stretching. We ended when it was time to end and sort of staggered out of the room of our own volition.

Afterwards, In My Head

Bellydance: DAMN I look good!

Latin Dance Aerobics: Oh GOD I suck!

Likelihood Of My Returning

Bellydance: Very high with a chance of “Duh.”

Latin Dance Aerobics: We’ll see.

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