Last week my very dear friend turned 40. Yes the big 40. Actually her birthday was in May but she celebrated last week in style with belly dancing. Yes hip swinging, hands twirling belly dancing.

Whilst she was planning her party she was very unsure about the belly dancing. Even though that’s exactly what she wanted to do. Wise old me told her, ‘What’s the point of turning forty if you can’t do what you want. Everyone will step into line and join in.  Just do it.’ And she did.

So I drove there on Wednesday evening. The night of the wondrous eclipse. (I tried to wake up the Princes for it but didn’t manage – I’m feeling very guilty about letting them go to sleep without seeing it, but I was too busy going to the party and I clean forgot.) And I felt like such a hypocrite because I didn’t want to belly dance. I, who promotes women getting out of their comfort zones and being the best they can be. Rediscovering their inner girls and twirling their toes through life. I, the woman who says, ‘Just do it.’ felt inexplicably shy. But I dragged my foot on the accelerator and went anyway.

And it was great. Better than great. First of all the teachers weren’t belly dancing babes. They were real life, belly dancing women who were comfortable in their voluptuous bodies. It was so refreshing and I think it made all of us women swing our child rearing hips all the better, not to mention more confidently. And that’s really what belly dancing is about reconnecting to our feminine bodies, our mystique and dare I say, sensuality. (Why do most of us, okay I’ll own it, why do I so easily disconnect from my sensuality. It doesn’t seem a safe realm. WHY? And yes I understand it’s private – but I’m talking basic feminine sensuality. We’ve in many ways hidden it from sight.) We also ululated (a tongue clicking motion which produces a high pitched sound) which I loved, having grown up with it in my family. My grandmother, aunts and cousins are fabulous ululaters. Our Barmitzvas were always that much more noisy and fun, and at least the women had a very clear ululating voice.

I think most of us danced at the party and had fun. (Don’t worry a couple of women couldn’t take it and left. Just in case you felt that I could never do that. You’re not alone.) It showed me again how healing it is to engage our bodies in movement as a group. It’s reenergizing and I’m sure most of the women went home to their husbands looking at themselves in a whole new way. I know that I did.

So yes I give a big thumbs up to belly dancing. Thumbs up to overcoming our fears and insecurities. Thumbs up to letting those hips go. (Although mine, admittedly are always out-of-place the next day.) Go on… try it for your birthday, even if you’re not turning the big 40.