|Current Photos by Michelle Niellose|
But the 1960s, 70s & 80s were a million times more magical & mysterious than the world we now live in. The music, the fashion, the free feeling that anything was possible, & everything was allowed. What sticks with me most are the things that haunt me. A memory of driving away nightly from a Hollywood club with the windows rolled down through the empty streets - blasting Elvis Costello's Get Happy in a drunken depression, longing for a far away love. The laughs the dancers shared - ducking low in the dressing room while a riot broke out. Hot tubs & cocktails in the snow while on the road & silly inside jokes to pass the monotony. Smells, feelings, hazy dusty memories, with no photos or videos evoke such melancholy longing for something I'm not even sure really existed. And in retrospect what happened off stage meant more to me than the actual dancing. In retrospect it was a lonely life.
As much as it seems I'm pining away for bygone times like some modern day Norma Desmond, I'm actually a modernist who loves the trendy & the innovative. I think Belly Dance is more beautiful now than ever. I love finding new music & I search the net & consume workshops for inspiration, because now I'm a teacher, a mentor, a sort of life coach of Belly Dance. If you stick around long enough you eventually accrue some notoriety & respectability, but truth is I'm only a legend in LA - outside of the perimeters of this depressing city I'm known to no one except maybe the thousands of "belly" fetishists who drool over my "Man with Bogart's Face" Youtube video.
I will continue to blog about current issues. I hope to raise some questions, & perhaps the ire of others with some controversial opinions. I hope the current dancers don't forget that us old timers are a living history. We've seen so many changes, trends & styles that we have a unique & well informed take on the business. We've been the "know it all" youngsters, the "It" girls & the "work horses". We may have danced differently, had little contact with dancers in other countries & had little training outside of nightly Middle Eastern club on the job training, but I think all of us 1970s Belly Dancers would agree we wouldn't trade our experience for anything. For that little moment in time Belly Dance was a glamorous, lucrative career. It was my intention with this blog to paint a picture of the world we inhabited. I hope it means something to someone eventually, even if not in my lifetime. So "My case is closed, my case is packed".