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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Risky Business (digression 3)

my dancer parking sign
So one night I had a private party (holiday celebration) in a super swanky gated community.  When I drove through security and arrived at the estate, a guard stopped me at the entrance to the driveway (and by driveway I mean the enormous semi-circle of pavement lined with trees & lamp posts, arcing across the front of the house.) When I identified myself as the belly dancer (as evidenced by sparkling make-up and elaborate cover-up,) he indicated that I should drive over to the left wing of the house to find my parking space.
parking space! How cool was that? The space had a sign, "Dancer." At this point my night was already made regardless of how the performance went.

When I got out of the car, the bodyguard (packing heat!) carried my stuff to the door, where he introduced me to a woman who would be my "assistant".  She would help me with whatever I needed to get ready. She guided me to "my room" which was a large bedroom with a bathroom and a private pool outside of the sliding glass door. I'm sure they didn't intend for me to use the pool, but it was there none the less. This evening was just kept getting better!

I set about changing and organizing my props. I sent my "assistant" off with my music. While I fixed my hair, I heard giggles outside of the door. The door opened a crack and I saw girls peeking in trying to get a glimpse of me. When I waved, they giggled more and shut the door. I was starting to feel like a celebrity.

A few minutes later "my assistant" (I did ask her name, but let's call her Isabel) came to tell me that they were ready for me. I followed her into the foyer. She explained I had to go through the first kitchen, then a pass-thru hall into the second catering kitchen (seriously) and then into the bar/ballroom. I was wearing suede dance sandals since I wasn't sure of the flooring in the dance area. While we were talking about the entrance route, one of the workers came back carrying the CDs along with the dread news (which I frequently encounter at wealthy homes with built in sound systems): They won't play. For some reason, some of these systems won't play home burned CDs of any format. Since there is no Belly Dancers R Us with a huge variety of routines, we all like to select our own music and mix it into performance CDs (I burn in MP3 and Wave formats, but there you have it.)

I sighed and went back to my room and brought out my back-up boom box with jacks. But again, the message came back that the jacks were not compatible. I wasn't totally convinced of this, but as it wasn't my house and it would spoil the surprise if I walked into the party to work on the sound system, a neighbor was sent off to get his stereo.
Isabel and I hung out chatting away about her family, her home country, her boyfriend (new), her ex, costumes, music, food. Finally we were told that the music was a go!

I waited through the music intro and then swept dancing through the two kitchens and into the bar area. As I smiled and danced, I observed that the bar and ballroom were multi-level (3 tiers.) There was band equipment set up (after show) in the first level that I had to avoid.
I wove in and out of the groups of guests, zilling away until I reached the center of the second level. I did a quick spin. This floor section was marble. The suede shoes became ice skates: I went into a dramatic Tom-Cruise-worthy slide across the floor. Other than (sort of gracefully) throwing out my arms for balance, I didn't react; but I was thinking furiously. When I finally skidded to a stop at the other side of the floor, I repeated the spin and slid back again (do it once, it's a mistake; repeat it, it's a move.) I recovered my bearings, continuing through veil and fast routines in the first and second room tiers.

I confidently stepped down into the third level to do my sword routine. The third level had a heavily fringed carpet. As I danced I felt the long stringy fringe tangling around my feet. I sank to the floor to do floor work and managed to pull at the fringe behind my back. When I finally stood up and put my sword down, I could feel long strands still caught in my feet. I did a few slow spins trying to pull them out from my toes - and I realized they were the laces of my sandals: I had accidentally untied my own sandals. I turned my back on the guests, doing some slow arm and undulation movements while using first one foot and then the other to pull off the sandals. I was looking directly at the body guards who were trying not to smile. I was giggling a little and I indicated the sandals with my eyes, mentally begging them to pick them up for me.

I dance with the body guards
At last it was time to get the guests to dance.
The host, his wife and a few of the younger guests enthusiastically danced through first song. But during the second song, I was unable to tempt anyone else out to dance. Alas, the rest of the guests proved to be members of the sit and stare crowd. The host grabbed my arm and hustled me over to one set of people after another, demanding that I make them dance. Despite his faith that I could some how coerce his friends to the dance floor, the guests' hard stares and firm "no"s made this unlikely short of a request made at gunpoint. Gunpoint! I made my way back across the room and collected the body guards who, as employees, probably had little choice. They proved to be enthusiastic dancers and we enjoyed an additional 25 minutes of rowdy, fun dancing.
At the end of the finale, I swept out, trailed by my protesting host who wanted me to dance for just another half hour. Without thinking, I said, Dude! That was already 15 minutes beyond our contract, but I am very glad you enjoyed the show.

Dude! I just called a client Dude! I am so fired.

Fortunately Isabel began to giggle, then so did a few other people, and then so did the host. He paid me (tipping most handsomely!!) and I left, accompanied and helped by one of the body guards.

I so wished I had asked to keep the Dancer parking sign.

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