Monday, July 30, 2012

Free At Cabaret Dance Camp

The Chubby Girl Goes To Camp, Say What!?!?! You said camp right, as in camping out? I tell you something right now about me, and perhaps other ladies ( thin or chubby) might feel the same way, the word camp or camping scares the shit out of me. When I hear those words dreaded images pop up in my mind. Such as being outside with one million bugs wanting to feed off my body like a buffet, peeing outside and fearful a snake might come up and bite me in the ass, or having to sleep on the hard ground wrap up like a cocoon in my sleeping bag. Now I know I have plenty of cushion on my body, but this lady needs a mattress. And call me a wuss but I live in Texas, which is located right next to the sun, so having a a/c unit or a fan is a big must. So a couple of years ago that scary word “camp” came up in Bahaia class when she started talking about her Cabaret Dance Camp ( a camp she started and continually runs each year in the fall). Truth be told when she started talking about it all I heard was camp, learning, fun, dancing, s’mores, my mind sort of spaced out, I guess the word camp does that to me. Then she said to look at her website for more info about it. Leaving class I was saying good bye to Jessica ( aka Wonder Woman) and she asked me if I was going, now I know I don’t have what you might call a “poker face” you can tell how I’m feeling almost instantly, and I can tell Jessica just witness my scare shitless face. She started to tell me right away how much fun it was, and it was a experience I wouldn’t want to miss, plus I should really really really think about it, and if I had questions ask her. So the next day at work I looked it up on Bahaia website. After reading about it I knew right away it was not what I had imagined, basically I was not going to be spending my time on survivor island. So this is what I found out about Cabaret Dance Camp before I even attended. I was not going to be stuck sleeping outside or in a tent, peeing in a man made hole I had to dig up myself. The camp was located at a place called Camp Rio Vista, it has cabins with bunk beds, fans, and bathrooms (so it has showers, toilets, sinks etc.) I‘m liking it already. I was not going to have to whittle a piece of wood into a spear to go hunting for my food or swim in the river and catch fish in my mouth, all of your meals are provided for, what a relief. Now for the part that really got me, according to the website I was going to a place that is surrounded by mother nature at her finest, here I will be able to step up my belly dance education. After my experience at the convention in my last blog I knew right away I wanted to learn more and more about the dance I love, and here at Cabaret Dance Camp there would be star instructors teaching hours of belly dance. LOVE!!!!!!! Also when there are no classes, you have time to relax by the river, shop around with local vendors that sold everything having to do with belly dance, play games with fellow hip shakers, then at night there are belly dance shows and s’mores/bonfire parties afterwards. I read it over and over again, and each time I did my heart ached more and more to go. So after mulling it over for a couple of weeks I made the hard never look back decision to go.

I did have to make sure that all my bases were covered when it came to my family and my business, my sister Mary made sure she would have off from work in Houston so she could come out to Austin and be back up for my Father in case he needed help with my Mom. And even though camp was still a couple of months away, I had three schedule jobs that week, but my Father said he look after them for me, no worries. I’m so grateful to have a family who support my belly dance, I love them so much, I think I‘ll keep them (wink). But before I could put my money down transportation was a issue, and camp was three and a half hours away. I could not take my own vehicle, it has the lift for my Mom and my Dads truck was out of the question. Its used to pick up materials and haul trash from the jobs, also its use as a back up if one of my guys trucks breaks down ( which has happen) that was not chance I was willing to take. I would take my sister’s car but camp starts on a Thursday and she would not get to Austin until Friday night. The next class I went to Bahaia started talking about camp again, she looked at me and asked if I was going, when I said I want to but I don’t have a way to get there she said “ Don’t worry we will get you there”. She wasn’t kidding, the next day I get a email from a fellow Belly Dancer name Claire (who lives in the same town as I do and is also Bahaia student) saying she be more then happy to give me a lift. I was so grateful that these wonderful women were not going to allow not having a vehicle get in the way of going to camp, so after iron out some details with Claire for the trip I booked myself a hot ticket to Cabaret Dance Camp. The week before camp I found myself not only counting down the days but also the hours. But unfortunately I also found myself getting very nervous, AGAIN!! Now what I’m about to say is what I felt, other ladies who are also overweight might feel the same way as I do, and then again some may feel the opposite. Being obese I seem to experience a lot mixed emotions when I try something new, and going to camp was no different, but Im here to tell my story, I refuse to sugar coat anything. So once again if you can’t handle some information that might make you feel uncomfortable (especially if you know me), stop reading and know this, Cabaret Dance Camp was the best experience I ever had and I beg all my fellow hip shakers to go, just to experience it once is something you won‘t forget, I guarantee it. Now if you want to hear what made me nervous, here we go. Lets start with my body, as I said before I am a five foot lady who’s about 100 pounds overweight ( just to admit that now makes every part of my body twist into a knot) but its true. There are times when I do resemble a M&M and I‘m convinced if I curled up and grab my knees, I could roll to places faster then I do when I’m walking. So the whole insecure stuff starts to rise up like a rash that won’t go away and I start to ask myself the same questions I always ask. Will the other ladies look down on me or feel pity for being fat? Will they make fun of me when I try to waddle up and down the hills? How Im I going to change or take a shower in front of other women without them looking at my body? Also will they watch how much I eat? That’s always a good one, I think everyone would be surprise how may overweight people there are who feel that others are always watching them eat. Also questions about my belly dance experience comes up. Im I ready for this? Do I know enough to pick up whatever I learn? What if I’m the worse one there? All this worries and questions don’t stop until I get there.

Finally the big day arrives, worried or not I paid and I was going. It took me three days to pack, I was trying real hard to minimize how much stuff I was taking, I did not want to overload Claire’s car because she was sweet enough to give me a ride in the first place. But hey I’m a girl, and I think we all know girls like options, so I was very happy to find out that another wonderful woman and fellow belly dancer and Bahaia student Kim, was going to come with her car and put some of my stuff with hers. Yeah!! And off we go caravanning to camp like gypsies. The ride to camp help ease my fears, talking to Claire help kept my mind from not filling up with doubt, plus she had been to camp already so she was able to tell me some good camp stories, it help. When we arrived I was taken aback by the place, the location was beautiful and serene. It was so green and the river that runs along the camp was so tranquil, I’m not even joking when I say the river look like it was mediating. When I step out of the car and look around my body began to decompress instantly, that is the effect the environment at camp had on me. I found the cabin Jessica was staying in and I unpacked my stuff, it made me feel better knowing I was in a cabin with a couple ladies I already know, Im still a bit shy when it comes to strangers, especially when Im in a place I'm not use to. Each belly dancer gets there own bunk and can decorate it however they want, also there was a contest for best decorations. So I thought it would be cool to do a Jason Ski Mask Monster theme one, since he does go after campers. I felt a bit silly afterwards, everyone else had funny, cute girly decorations, oh well that just me. We had dinner and I was delighted to see some more faces I recognize, Bahaia went over the schedule, handed out shirts and introduce the star instructors. Ranya Renee and Roxanne Shelby were the big names that year, and of course like anyone else I looked up information and videos about them, and I was excited to start learning what that had to teach. The next few days were not what I expected, each hour I was there I found myself letting go more and more of the heavy doubt I was having, unfortunately it did not break off fast enough. That first night I actually slept in the clothes I came in and I made sure to get up very early to change before anybody saw me, I was laid backed in bed ready to go while everyone else was getting up. Friday went as plan, the classes were wonderful and I found that I was not worried at all about whether or not I could keep up, or if people were singling me out. All the ladies, even the ones I just met were super nice. And just like the convention, don’t feel like you have to learn every single thing, just take in what you can, believe it or not your dance knowledge does grow. That night was the first show and I signed myself up to dance in it ( what was I thinking) , fortunately liquor is allowed at camp so it help shake a little bit of my fear away. A month before, I had come up with this solo that combined my love for hip hop and belly dance(my first solo), it started out with a Usher song, then turned to a Hakim pop Arabic song. People were cheering and it seem they enjoyed it but as I watch the rest of the dancers perform I started to scold myself. Everybody was doing Arabic songs not mixing it up like I did, I began to worry that the others ladies including Bahaia would feel I did not take this seriously. It would hang over my head that entire night. I woke up the next day dress and ready to go, after breakfast I found myself standing next to Ranya Renee who looked straight at me and said “I really enjoyed your dance last night, you got everyone attention and it was fun, you need to keep that up” she was serious. My stomach did flips and I thanked her. During class that day I had a major breakthrough, after we were given a short break all I can say was I had the sudden urge to cry. I went straight outside and sat down by a tree and balled my eyes out, what was happening to me was that all of the negative energy I had left inside my body was spilling out. And I also found I had a major epiphany about myself. When you bottle all those bad things you feel about yourself, one way or another it will come spilling out, and mine came out like a river. I realized I was not given myself enough credit when it came to my dancing, I have no problem now to admit that even though I’m overweight I ‘m a really good dancer. Not the best but I’m really good one and taking this classes and workshops will make me a better one. And also I don’t care what people think about my body, after that there was no problem getting undress or showering in front of other ladies, I didn’t have anything they have not seen before. After my cry fest I cleaned myself up the best I could and went back in, but here’s the thing about me crying you can totally tell I have and when somebody ask me was I crying even though I say no the tears come back out. So I cried a little bit more and received some hugs, but I love the fact nobody try to force me  to say why I was crying, its as if they knew this experience brings out things in us we never knew we had.

The weekend continued and there was laughing, belly dance games, crafts, relaxing by the river, music, dancing, drinking wine and having s’mores beside a big campfire. Stories were shared, I made new friends that I still keep in touch with even though they live in another state and nobody I mean NOBODY was pushed to the side. There was also some great shopping, always my favorite! When Sunday came around I was sad to go, I hug everybody goodbye and wish them adieu. So there, I popped my camp cherry that first year and the following year was even better! I hope by reading this anyone who is nervous because of there weight can save some of the heartache I went through. Bahaia created this Cabaret Dance Camp, so that everyone can enjoy learning belly dance in a safe and beautiful environment, it makes everyone feel welcome and it’s a great time. And I can’t thank her enough for coming up with it. This year will be my third time to go and I can‘t wait, I wanted to come up with a power word to wear on my shirt the first day of camp this year. Something that sums up camp for me, so I came up with FREE. Cabaret Dance Camp makes me feel Free. F is for Friends, old or new ones, Im always surrounded by my belly sisters who become my dearest friends, we support each other in our love for this dance. R is for Relaxation, being a Cabaret surrounded by nature ( green hills and cool river) my body automatically relaxes and Im able to let my guard down and have fun and not feel insecure one bit. E is for Evolving , my belly dance education evolves more and more as I get to learn from some of the best teachers that come to teach at camp. And the final E is for Epiphany, every time I'm at camp I learn something new about myself and it never fails to surprise me. And just like Jessica said if you feel unsure or have any questions please feel free to contact me. And once again thank you to Bahaia, Kim , Claire , Jessica and the rest of my belly dance sisters for making me feel welcome, reaching out to someone who is alone at a event does make a big difference. See everybody at Camp this year!

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