Well, today is the first day of class for the fall semester, but guess what? I don't want to talk about that. :0 Let's talk about something infinitely more enjoyable to me, and we can circle back to teaching another time. Because to talk about teaching right now would drain what little energy I have left to give. So there's that.
But Friday night, I had another dancing adventure, and those are always fun. Let's chronicle!
So, this shindig was about 90 minutes from where we live, and so Claire and I had a mini road trip to contend with on either end. 90 minutes isn't a big deal, but we definitely had to plan for it. We set off around 3:15 pm for our 5:30 set time and gossiped the entire way there.
We arrive, and find our destination in a mall. Not exactly what we were expecting, but no matter. We unload our gear (costumes, so many costumes, plus Sword, a candle tray, a cane, and a gigantic set of veil fans), and head in. I notice right away, and happily so, that the restaurant consists of 2 full rooms. It's much easier when you have multiple spaces to travel between, keeps things interesting. You're not marooned in one room with the same people for the entire 20 minute set. I did notice though, that there were no people seated in the second room. Nor was there an abundance of people in the other room. I am struck by a sense of foreboding.
*long suffering sigh*
We find the owner, and he has a real face on him. By which I mean he seemed to be somewhat annoyed by our appearance and existence. We hadn't talked to him prior to this, since we had been booked by his marketing person. He was just very hard to read. By the end of the night, we came to realize that this was just His Face. It just always looks like that, even when he's happy. :0 But we were unsure for a time.
We take a quick look around the place, and he pops us into this dank back hallway where supplies are kept, and which has been designated our dressing room for the night. Immediately, our shoes begin to adhere to the sticky floor.
We creep to the end of the hallway, and carefully set up our stuff, trying not to get grease on anything in the process. I set Sword on a ledge and happen upon a squashed spider.
*shudder of revulsion*
We change into our first set of costumes, and head out to ask him when he wants us to start. There aren't many people there yet, just 4 tables full, and we'd be happy to wait until 6 pm to start, to allow for more people to fill in, we tell him. Once again, we are accosted by The Face:
"Go ahead and start."
I'm up first (yayyyyyyyyyyyy!) and Claire sets up my music. I swirl out with my veil. I assess my 4 tables:
Table 1 - large, full of older people. They do not seem to have even noticed that there is a belly dancer waving a giant silk veil around in the middle of the restaurant.
Table 2 - a family with 2 young children. They are friendly, but the toddler appears to be terrified of me.
Table 3 - 3 other belly dancers that I recognize from Facebook. They enthusiastically came to see us dance, and establish themselves early on as the safe spot to refresh and recharge.
Table 4 - a couple who look up from their food and beam at me whenever I hip drop in their direction. They are also on my good list.
I make my way around the room. The belly dancer table is predictably very loud and raucous in the best possible way, and give me the energy boost I need to keep trucking. The couple table is just so sweet, and they also make me feel good every time I dance in their corner. The young family finishes up and leaves shortly after I start my set, so now I'm down to the two happy tables plus the older people table who still appear to not realize I am there despite my dancing several enthusiastic circles around them. There is only so many times I can bask in the glow of the belly dancer table praise and applause. Let's just say that the set began to feel verrryyyyyyyy.llloooooonnnnnggggggg....
Finally, I decide to take matters into my own hands. WHO IS GOING TO GET UP TO DANCE WITH ME?! Because it was going to be SOMEBODY. "No" was not an answer I was willing to hear.
I dance over to the cute couple, but they had just gotten back from the buffet. They both beam at me, but they were about to eat and I did not want to disturb them. I shimmy over to the belly dancers. The first woman I ask declines.
You're killin' me, girl!
I am not budging. I am hip circling over there until somebody gets up, and that was that. Realizing that I was not so easily dissuaded, one of them finally clamors out of the booth.
We dance together for the remainder of the song, and as is always happily the case, getting people up to dance always raises the energy level in the room. She sits back down, and I steel myself to head back to the older people table.
This time I elicit a response. They seem to finally notice my existence, which is a pleasant change. I wasn't feelin' asking any of them up to dance, but they were now a friendlier crowd. Mercifully, this helps the set to pass faster, but I am still incredibly relieved to hear my drum solo queue up, and then finish off. I float away, awash in exhaustion.
I head back into our sticky dressing room to find some fresh air. Claire dances next, and comes back with a very long suffering expression:
"Good heavens. I really wish they had let us wait to start until later."
We change into our second set costumes and kill as much time as we can. It's about 7 pm, but the restaurant has advertised belly dancing until 8:30. Our sets are 20 minutes apiece, so as you can see, the math isn't really adding up on this one. Us peeking out from our little hovel finds us, once again, confronted by The Face:
"There are new people. Go ahead and start."
New people? *Two tables* 2. That's a TOTAL of 2, just to be clear. And one of them is the same older people table, just with a few new additions.
Sword and I nervously queue up as Claire starts our music. There is a big open space between the two tables, and Sword and I linger there. He gets a LOT of attention in this set, just for the sheer reason of using up some time. I swoop him around for a bit in that middle area, then troop him over to each table to balance. As is always the case, Sword is a crowd pleaser. Everyone is certainly now paying attention, and Sword actually accompanies me, ON MY HEAD, across the span of the entire room. He brought his A Game, that's for sure.
I keep Sword with me for the entire song before reluctantly handing him back to Claire. I now have 16 more minutes to fill with these same few people.
I will say this: when your situation is less than satisfactory, you're much more likely to drop your nervousness and perform better, because hey. What is there to lose at this point?
I dance over to the new table, a family with teenaged children. They are extremely attentive and I immediately deem them likeable. I overhear the girl mention something about loving dance, and that she used to tap dance, and I waste 0 zero seconds hip bumping over to ask her to get up and dance with me. She appears terrified and declines, which is disappointing, but you can't win them all. I dance back over to the older people, and there is now a woman at the end of that table who is extremely friendly and STARTS A CONVERSATION WITH ME WHILE I AM DANCING. While I appreciate interactivity, that's not exactly what I had in mind in this particular situation. I ask her up to dance:
"Oh no. I am a terrible dancer. I'm Italian!"
I inform her that I, too, am Italian, and this delights her to no end. She leaps up and begins to dance with me. The set has taken a definite turn for the better.
Her entire table is now watching us and clapping along, and it couldn't have come at a better time. I mean, there wasn't really anywhere else for me to go. :0
After she sits back down, I make my way back to the other family, and they are delightful and attentive, but good gracious, everyone must be sick of me by this point. I am like their personal belly dancer when they really didn't want one.
By the time my long drum solo for the end of the set finally starts playing, I am bathed in sweat and I can see the hair near my face sticking straight up in the air as a result. Sweat runs into my eyes, making them burn.
All glamour, all the time.
I love the drum song that I picked, but I was ready for this little shindig to be OVER. I move to the open area and am accenting my little heart out when I experience the sinking realization that the restaurant is silent. I glance nervously out of my arm formation and see that it is silent because everybody is watching me. They loved the drum solo. All 10 of them. 😂
We stalled as much as we could before Claire's set, but Face Guy really wanted her to begin, so she did. As she danced, closer to 8 pm, the restaurant began to fill in.
We told him so. :0
When Claire finished, there were a decent number of people there, although nowhere near enough to start filling up the second room. We change and pack up our belongings, very relieved to have this one behind us.
By the time I get home, it's after 10 pm and I am beyond exhausted. I am grateful to have a bit of a break from performing. For a few weeks at least!
Now I have classes starting. 😠 Not exactly fun times, but we do what we can. How was YOUR weekend, dear reader?!