Dancing, family life and dressing up is my life. I am sat here thinking what I consider the norm of a life of dressing up is not other folk’s realities. I also am sat here thinking how much I love dressing up and share this passion with others.
Yesterday smallish boy and other smallish girls found my wedding dress. I have kept my wedding dress for many years neatly wrapped up carefully in the attic. On moving here I wandered about giving it away but I didn’t. I do not have emotional attachment regarding hanging onto stuff about my ex-husband (missing father of children) which I place on this dress. It is juts that it is a beautiful dress that I wore in my youth when I was happy and full of hope. It has happy memories and remains a very lovely dress.
Anyway the small people all agreed that it was lovely so much so that smallish boy decided to put in on and we added a tiara and veil. He did indeed look beautiful although he repeated several times over that he has no desire to be a tranestiteperson! He loved trying to create fake boobies to fill the dress up and prancing about being a girl, but he also liked the feel of the fabric and how it looked. He afterwards went and put on a leather jacket and a different shirt from Morocco.
Smallish boy last week was wandering around in a very large shirt of lovely mans, the week before his brother’s jacket and for a long time had taken over my fluffy dressing gown until my Mum bought him own for Christmas. He loves fabric and textiles always wanting to feel textures and patterns. His biggest love is unusual T shirts and he has begun to get fussy about the jeans he wears. I can remember large boy undertaking Halloween with great glee in my leopard skin fur coat, heeled cowboy boots, and velvet shirt and zombie makeup. He also had a range of hair colour including pink and blue.
Dressing up in our house has always been a given. When the kids were little we have a huge dressing up back with cloaks, super heroes’ hats and props. As a dancer and performer I have a wardrobe full of fancy frocks and the weird and wonderful. So it is reasonable for my smallish boy to want to dress up and express his identity. It is what we do, dress up parade around and laugh and express joy.
Part of family life that brings happiness and a safe place for youngish boy to explore his identity and who he is. He does this not behind locked doors feeling any shame but openly and publicly with great honesty. What I can see underneath seed pearls and satin is a boy who has a strong sense of self.
When I was a child I had a dressing up box. I dressed up in my Mum’s wedding dress and performed dance routines to old records. A box of silks, petticoats wedding dresses and bridesmaids outfits, friends came to my house to dress up and play make believe. Our house was the place to do this and I can’t remember anywhere else where there was such a dressing up box.
As teenagers we scoured jumble sales every Saturday to come home with bag loads of dressing up which as a group of girls we would dress up and share. As a dancer my Mum made me tutus and all manner of outfits to perform in. I love fancy dress, parties with themes, weddings and occasions to create an outfit. I love clothes and dressing up.
My degree Fine art show and subsequent art work was an exploration of portraits and images of women about dressing up and changing identity. I love clothes, fabrics hats shoes with passion. As lovely man has found out, other folk collect books I collect fancy dresses and fripperies.
I have always said that is one of the reasons women come to belly dance. Watching old videos at a friend’s recently we realised that in the last decade of belly dance women would dress up with all their sequins and Arabian nights in weekly class. I can remember my first class was as much about the dressing up as learning the moves. In order to take the dance “seriously” we have put away our swishy skirts and sequins and janglies for black pants but any hafla you will see an array of wonderful women in their fancy finery. The belly dance world we know is all about dressing up and make believe on a Saturday night.
So many women never had that fancy dress box, nor the opportunity to wear a purple sequined tutu on a stage (I was a jewel in Aladdin’s cave and part of the rainbow). Life is dowdy full of beige and sensible shoes. Clothes are bought to be functional or to “fit in” with the crowd. So the dance world for many creates that “boy in a wedding dress moment”. An opportunity to dress up in fabric that feels lovely, sequins that sparkle and coins that jangle. It is the stuff of fairy princesses and Arabian Nights. There are moments when some of this sparkle may be about being sexy and sensual. But it is also about being pretty, girly and well simply dressing up and prancing about. We are admired by mostly our women friends who spin twirl and prance with us.
At haflas we share the magic of dressing up, the souks and stalls offer more dressing up opportunities from henna to bindi to veils and fantastic frocks and bedlahs it all about the dressing up. We say we love the dancing but our love of belly dance is so wrapped up in the sequins, flowers swishy skirts and finery. We would never survive in just black trousers!
Now the boys have joined us to drum. They are not content to perform in jeans. Smart shirts and trousers have been added to with waistcoats and hats, an opportunity for a medieval fayre making way for galebeyas and fancy Arabian pants! Belly dancing for so many is about having fun and joy. Linked to this seems to be the great big belly dance dressing up box. When we take our dance out to others we always have the bag of belts to share, hip scarves to adorn women over their day clothes. A hen party booked is always about “dressing up” the bride. We love all this fancy dress!
I have recently joined the tribal world and a tribal group. I am really enjoying learning a completely new dance form and enjoying meeting new women and dancing as a group. But also it is a whole new opportunity for dressing up. New swishy skirts to wear and flowers for my hair Judee tee has a new persona to develop!
Last week I put old pictures on Fb that I had found. I had pictures of Elvis outfits, bumble bees, wigs, seventies dresses and a fab hat I remembered and a favourite blue dress and men’s long johns! A history of years and years of dressing up! This month there is the fancy dress challenge of Mad hatters tea party, Mad movies and swishing skirts and tribal! I rest my dressing up case!
Happy dancing and dressing up x